How to Successfully Integrate an iPod Into Your Litigation Practice.

From: TechnoFeature: The TechnoLawyer Community, (April 8, 2008)

BY: David W. Mykel, M.A.

Attorneys constantly search for ways to increase their efficiency, bill more hours, and make life easier. Imagine you’re working from your laptop at 35,000 feet: reviewing video deposition testimony, reading over transcripts and documents, and viewing case photos. Now imagine doing all of this without having to carry around a bulky laptop, mouse, power source, and a bag.

Can you? Probably for an expensive price tag, right? What if I were to say that you could accomplish this with something you already own? Now imagine doing all these things as well as recording your “on the fly” ideas, proofing PowerPoint slides, and listening to some relaxing music all while in the back of a sedan. Thanks to the iPod, a lawyer’s work has become increasingly more efficient and portable.

We all know that iPods play music, but as technology advances these devices have taken on more and more tasks for the digitally savvy user. The newest version (and some older versions as well) can now handle music, photos, videos, files, and act as an organizer.

So you may ask yourself, how can I use an iPod for my litigation practice? The iPod fills the void as a litigation tool that is not only user-friendly, but also portable and capable of completing all the above tasks.

Imagine having the ability to walk into a deposition, hand your iPod to the court reporter, have her download the deposition transcript, then hand it to the other side and have them download all their exhibits, and finally hand it to the videographer and download the deposition video onto it as well. As you’re waiting for your cab, you take some beautiful pictures of the city skyline at sunset and download them to your iPod to share with your family. Now you’re sitting in the cab on the way to the airport, listening to your favorite MP3’s to unwind for the plane ride. Once you board the plane, you can now review the deposition, read the transcript, examine the exhibits, and record your thoughts without having to worry about your battery dying (because of the 8+ hour battery life).

An iPod is similar to a mini-computer; in fact, it operates on very similar principles. However, because it was built primarily as an audio player and evolved into a multimedia device, some files (video and text) need to be converted for compatibility. To ensure video compatibility, you will need to use Apple’s proprietary player iTunes. (Note: iTunes will support all video formats that can be played in QuickTime.)

To convert videos:

1. Open iTunes.
2. Open folder where videos are located.
3. Drag the video file to your iTunes library.

Some videos may be ready for use with an iPod after you import them to iTunes. If you try to add a video to your iPod and a message says the video cannot play, then you must convert the video for use with iPod.

To convert a video for use with iPod:

1. Select the video in your iTunes library.
2. Choose Advanced > “Convert Selection to iPod.”

The most commonly available and widely acceptable format of video for this application is MPEG-1. Most videographers use this format and it’s the only format that can be used in trial presentation software like Sanction and TrialDirector. As such, it’s important to request that the videographer provides the deposition video in MPEG-1 format.

Adding videos to your iPod follows the same procedure as adding songs. You can set iTunes to sync all videos and audio files to your iPod automatically when you connect it, or you can set iTunes to sync only selected playlists. Alternatively, you can manage files manually. Using this option, you can add videos from more than one computer without erasing ones already on your iPod (this is especially helpful if you’re sharing these files with different colleagues).

Syncing Files Automatically

By default, your iPod is set to sync all songs and playlists when you connect it to a computer. For the simplest way to load A/V files onto an iPod, connect your iPod to the computer, watch it add songs, videos, and other items automatically, and then disconnect it. Loading songs into iTunes is just as simple as dragging and dropping in any other Window’s application.

Loading music into iTunes:

1. Open iTunes.
2. Open My Music folder.
3. Drag audio files from My Music folder into iTunes.

To load music onto iPod:

1. Connect iPod to your computer. If iPod is set to sync automatically, the update begins.

1. Select iPod in the Source pane and click the Music tab.

2. Select “Sync music” and then choose “All songs and playlists.”

3. Click Apply.

Important: The first time you connect your iPod to a computer, a message asks if you want to sync songs automatically. If you accept, all audio/video files are erased from your iPod and replaced with the songs and other items from that computer. If you don’t accept, you can still load songs onto your iPod manually without erasing any of the content.

Although automatically syncing is the easiest and most user-friendly way to load items on your iPod, it is not the most efficient method when dealing with multiple computers and files from your colleagues. If you are going to use an iPod successfully in your litigation practice, you are better off managing your files manually. Setting iTunes to enable you to manage your iPod manually gives you the most flexibility for organizing A/V files on an iPod. Also, you can load audio and video files from multiple computers to your iPod without erasing existing items, which is extremely beneficial when receiving files from the other side (refer to deposition example above).

Note: Setting the iPod to manually manage music and video turns off the automatic sync options in the Music, Movies, and TV Shows panes. You cannot manually manage one and automatically sync another at the same time.

Syncing Files Manually
To set iTunes to manage music and video on iPod manually:

1. In iTunes, select iPod in the Source pane and click the Summary tab.

2. In the Options section, select “Manually manage music and video.”

3. Click Apply.

As previously mentioned, you have the ability to manage and view photos and case exhibits on your iPod manually or as a slideshow. The most commonly used format of photos is JPEG (i.e., .jpg), which is compatible with an iPod. However, the most commonly used format for exhibits (i.e., TIFFS and PDFs) are not automatically compatible with an iPod. To overcome this slight inconvenience, be sure to request case exhibits in JPEG (.jpg) format.

Once you’ve handed opposing counsel your iPod, have them follow these simple instructions in order to download case exhibits.

To add photos from a folder on your computer to an iPod:

1. Drag the images you want into a folder on your computer. If you want images to appear in separate photo albums on your iPod, create folders inside the main image folder, and drag images into the new folders.

2. In iTunes, select iPod in the source list and click the Photos tab.

3. Select “Sync photos from:…”

4. Choose “Choose Folder” from the pop-up menu and select your image folder.

5. Click Apply.

When you add photos to your iPod, iTunes optimizes the photos for viewing. Full-resolution image files aren’t transferred by default. Adding full-resolution image files is useful, for example if you want to move them from one computer to another, but isn’t necessary for viewing the images at full quality on your iPod.

To add full-resolution image files to an iPod:

1. In iTunes, select iPod in the source list and click the Photos tab.

2. Select “Include full-resolution photos.”

3. Click Apply (iTunes copies the full-resolution versions of the photos to the Photos folder on iPod).

Viewing Photos on an iPod:

1. Choose Photos > All Photos. Or choose Photos and a photo album to view only the photos in the album (keep in mind, thumbnail views of the photos might take a moment to appear).

2. Select the photo you want and press the Center button to view a full-screen version.

An iPod can do a lot more than just play multiple A/V files. You can also use it as an external disk, alarm, or sleep timer; to show the time of day in other parts of the world; or to display notes as well sync contacts, calendars, and to-do lists.

• External Disk
When your iPod is enabled as an external hard disk you can use it to store multiple data files, similar to a portable hard drive (i.e., thumb/jump drive).

Please Note: To add music and other audio or video files to an iPod, you must use iTunes; however when using the iPod as an external hard drive, you can simply drag and drop files.

To enable iPod as an external disk:

1. In iTunes, select iPod in the source list and click the Summary tab.

2. In the Options section, select “Enable disk use.”

3. Click Apply.

Note: When you use iPod as an external disk, the iPod disk icon appears on the desktop on Mac, or as the next available drive letter in Windows Explorer on a Windows PC.

• Contacts, Calendars, and To-Do Lists
Not only can your iPod act as a jump drive, but it can also function as an organizer, similar to today’s Palm Pilot or BlackBerry.

If you’re using Mac OS X v10.4 or later, you can use iTunes to sync the contact and calendar information on your iPod with Address Book and iCal. If you’re using any version of Mac OS X earlier than 10.4, you can use iSync to sync your information.

If you’re using Windows XP and you use Windows Address Book or Microsoft Outlook 2003 or later to store your contact information, you can use iTunes to sync the address book information on iPod. If you use Microsoft Outlook 2003 or later to keep a calendar, you can also sync calendar information.

To sync contacts or calendar information:

1. Connect your iPod to your computer.

2. In iTunes, select iPod in the source list and click the Contacts tab.

3. Do one of the following: To sync contacts, in the Contacts section, select “Sync Address Book contacts,” and select the option to either sync “all contacts” or “selected groups.”

• Viewing Documents
Similar to devices like Palm Pilots and BlackBerrys, an iPod has the ability to view documents. One of the main differences between the devices is that for an iPod to display documents, they have to be in a certain format. As such, always be sure to ask paralegals, staff, and/or court reporters to provide the documents in text (.txt) format. Once your iPod is connected to a computer and the files are in .txt format, simply drag and drop the files, just like you would in any Windows Explorer application.

• Voice Recording

In addition to these features, you can also record on-the-fly voice memos using an optional iPod-compatible microphone. You have the ability to store voice memos on your iPod and sync them with your computer just like A/V files. Voice recording can be saved as either low-quality mono (22.05 kHz) to save space, or high-quality stereo (44.1 kHz) for better sound.

Note: Voice memos cannot be longer than two hours. If you record for more than two hours, the iPod automatically starts a new voice memo to continue your recording.

To record a voice memo:

1. Connect a microphone to the Dock connector port on iPod.

2. Set Quality to Low or High.

3. To begin recording, choose Record.

4. Hold the microphone a few inches from your mouth and speak. To pause recording, choose Pause.

5. When you finish, choose Stop and Save. Your saved recording is listed by date and time.

To play a recording:

1. Select Extras > Voice Memos and choose the recording.

Voice memos are saved in a Recordings folder on the iPod in a WAV file format. If you enable iPod for disk use, you can drag voice memos from the folder to copy them.

As you can see, the iPod truly is a “little white wonder” (though white is no longer offered as an option) and can be used for a variety of everyday tasks and across multiple platforms in your litigation practice. Now that you possess the know-how, put down that bulky laptop and power adapter and pick up your iPod!

Copyright 2008 David W. Mykel. All rights reserved.

David W. Mykel is a litigation consultant for Courtroom Sciences Inc., located in Dallas, Chicago and Washington DC. David has been consulting for 7 years working both independently and with CSI. He comes from a psychology background, with a B.A. in Psychology and Criminal Justice as well as his Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology. David considers himself to be part of a new breed of technologically savvy psychologists who specialize in witness preparation, case presentation, strategy and graphics, jury selection as well as trial technology. His background also includes mock trials and focus groups.

Contact Information