A paperless way to highlight text and take notes, then email or upload into Dropbox

By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.

Using iAnnotate on iPad to review cases

In law school, I went through a lot of highlighters. When preparing for class, I would read the cases in my textbook and leave behind a page painted in yellow with notes scrawled in the margin using blue ink.

Today, I still read cases, especially recent hand downs. But instead of a textbook or paper version, I read it on my iPad. I still mark up text only virtually using the iAnnotate app which sells for $9.99 in iTunes. (Affiliate link) When I’m done, I have the flexibility to add the case to Dropbox which also integrates it into my Nozbe to-do system or even just email it and then add it to Evernote through Outlook.

This week, Lawyer Tech Review explains how to download cases into your iAnnotate app, take notes and then upload the information.

1. Fetch case law from the Internet

iAnnotate can be a little intimidating when you first open it on your iPad. The app comes with a lot of features and the choices can seem overwhelming. For this blog post, we’ll just focus on accessing case law and making notes.

For this example, I chose a Sept. 13 case handed down by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District. The case is available both on Google Scholar and on the Missouri Judiciary’s website.

Open the iAnnotate app on your iPad and select the Fetch icon on the upper left hand corner. It will reveal a drop down menu. Select Web Download and the app will open an Internet page.

iAnnotate fetchs web download

2. Navigate to the case on the Internet and download into iAnnotate

You can now navigate your way to the Internet page of your choosing. For this example, I went to Google Scholar, searched for Nokes v. HMS Host, et al., found my case and opened it. Once again, I selected the Send icon in the upper left corner.

iAnnotate send to PDF options

I chose the option, Save Page as PDF. A clickable note appeared in the lower right hand corner that stated: Read scholar_case.

iAnnotate saved PDF

I was sent back to iAnnotate where I could begin using the highlighting and note taking tools to mark up the case.

iAnnotate tools for iPad

I can also follow the same steps and pull a case into iAnnotate from the Missouri Judiciary’s website. Only when I fetch the PDF, I receive this screen:

Fetch PDF document using iAnnotate

Press the red arrow button to read the opinion and you are directed back into iAnnotate where you can now begin using the tool bars – including the highlighter and comments features.

iAnnotate highlight and comment tools

3. Uploading your annotated case to Dropbox, iBooks or emailing it

Once you’ve reviewed the case and taken all the notes you need, iAnnotate gives lawyers several choices. In addition to saving the app in iAnnotate and iBooks, lawyers can direct just the notes or the entire case to Dropbox or send via email.

Select the Send icon in the upper left hand corner and select the option you prefer.

open document in iAnnotate

You can also choose the Open In option which will pull up a screen that prompts you to choose a file format.

Choose file format on iAnnotate

Once the format is chosen, iAnnotate will allow you to select which app you’d like to upload the document to on your iPad, depending on the apps you are using. As you can see from this screenshot, I have four choices based on my iPad apps: iBooks, Dropbox, DocsToGo and iZip.

upload iAnnotate document to Dropbox

As we have noted previously, some lawyers choose to skip Dropbox because of security concerns. However, others attorneys are comfortable with the service or use it when a project does not involve security risk. (See Dropbox in the Hotseat.)

One of the advantages to using Dropbox is that it integrates with Nozbe, the productivity and to-do list app. When I upload the case to my Dropbox file, I also know I can access my notes in Nozbe. (See Nozbe App Review: Productivity App to Get Things Done.) In addition, when I email a file to Outlook, I can also add it to my Evernote. I also have Evernote integrated with my Nozbe account. (See Evernote App Review: An Alternative to Printing Information.)

I have multiple ways to access my notes while working on projects. One of the biggest advantages for me is that I don’t have to hunt down the stack or folder for one particular document. It is at my fingertips in a variety of ways – and without ever having to print a piece of paper.

iAnnotate allows for many different approaches

Just as there is no one right way to try a case, there will be no one right way to use iAnnotate. This is just one approach I have found that makes sense for me when reviewing research.

How do you use iAnnotate? If you have a tip on how to boost productivity in your law practice using iAnnotate on your iPad, we’d love to hear from you.