How to put an end to the cycle of disorganized paper notes and lost legal pads

By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.

iPad as legal pad

Note taking is part and parcel of most lawyers’ lives. Commercials, television shows and even law firm websites often depict an attorney sitting in a conference room jotting down information on a yellow legal pad. But if the notes aren’t filed into the client folder promptly, or the legal pad is misplaced, tracking down the information quickly can be frustrating.

For the past few months, I’ve replaced my legal pads with an iPad. Instead of jotting down notes on a legal pad while at a meeting or speaking on the phone, I’ve been using my Evernote app on my iPad and my laptop. Here are the pros and cons of the practice.

Tagging Notes

When I’m writing in Evernote, I add a tag to the information. Tags are labels that help sort and organize information. With Evernote, I can add multiple tags in order to sort the information differently depending on the purpose. For example, a matter for Jane Doe could be tagged “Doe.” If the matter included a billable item, I could also tag it with the “billing” label.

By grouping the information through tags, I have essentially created a notes folder that, in the physical world, would have been placed inside the client file.

Tag note in iPad

Syncing Notes

Because Evernote syncs with my devices, I can access my information from my laptop, my iPad and even my smartphone. My notes are where I need them when I need them. However, when I am using my iPad, I do not have to be connected to the Internet to create the note. I can create and save my information and once I am signed on to an Internet connection, Evernote will sync my information.

And, as we mentioned in our Nozbe app review, if you use an organizational program like Nozbe, you have the ability to sync your Evernote tags to your Nozbe folders.

Synchronize Evernote on iPad Sync feature in Evernote

Pen and Paper Notes

I’ve been taking notes for decades using the pen-and-paper method. I admit that I occasionally miss having a sheet of paper underneath my palm and a pen in my hand. However, I do not miss flipping through pages and pages of notebook paper to find the information I know I’ve jotted down but just can’t seem to locate.

I also don’t missing managing paper. Sorting, finding, filing and shredding paper is time consuming. If you’re a solo or small firm, reducing the amount of time spent on paper management can be a time saver.

Have you moved away from paper notes? If so, is there an app or software that you prefer?