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Monday, July 21, 2014

Evernote for Lawyers: Essential Tool for the Information Age

I discovered Evernote a few months ago and soon realized that it's more than just the latest "new thing."

I am a busy lawyer who constantly searches the internet for factual information and legal research. Evernote has become not only an essential tool for organizing the many projects in which I'm involved, but also a means to keep a clear record of interesting articles and other interesting things that I find on the internet.

What is Evernote? At its most basic, it is a completely free cloud-based application for taking and organizing notes. A note can be created with one click. But unlike ordinary notes, you can include in the note a photograph, a document such as PDF, a voice memo, a URL link, or a website page (or portion thereof).

 The beauty of Evernote is that once you create a note, you can then access the note on your other devices such as your smart phone, tablet, and PC. 

For example, suppose your surfing the internet to investigate the viability of filing a claim for products liability. You could spend either a few minutes or several hours over the course of the month concerning (a) the whereabouts of the manufacturer and distributors; (b) whether similar suits have been filed against the same defendants; (c) the best jurisdiction within which to file the claim; and (d) the laws regarding products liability in the various candidate jurisdictions, etc. 

As you surfing the internet, you will inevitably find useful information and useless information. In the past, you would likely bookmark useful sites and perhaps print out pages that you wanted to read later. Using Evernote's web clipper, however, you can keep track of where you've been. With one click, you can save a particular website by instantly copying its link, or a screenshot, or even a stripped down version of the website as a note. Later, you can create a notebook, which is essentially a folder containing related notes, and then easily "move" your notes into that notebook. 

Because Evernote is always synchronizing itself, your notes will be immediately available on every other device you have. Thus, if you're running to the airport, or sitting in a doctor's waiting room, you can immediately pick up where you left off because each device on which you've downloaded Evernote will have each note and noteback saved on your other devices.

Evernote has other easy-to-use features that are great for lawyers. It has a dictation feature in which your spoken words are transcribed and instantly saved directly into a note. Evernote has a easy "checklist" feature for making simple list of things to do along with a little "checkbox."

Additionally, your free account comes with an email address that I use to send legal research. For example, suppose I am in Westlaw Next doing some research and find a few cases to read later. I send those to my free Evernote email address and that research is saved as a note. Later, I can read the case on my iPad and attach it to a particular notebook (i.e., a folder) with similar research for that project.

 In my judgment, Evernote is not simply the next new thing. This software, and especially the web clipper, represents a new type of tool that eventually everyone will use to make the internet searches more productive.





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