Jimmy Wilkins is a trial attorney who practices in the areas of general product liability defense, premises litigation, insurance defense, and personal injury litigation defense at Watkins & Eager in Jackson, MS. Among other distinguished memberships, Jimmy is a member of the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC is an invitation-only premier defense trial lawyer association). In 2018 he attended FedTech U, a trial practices program put on annually by the FDCC. Prior to attending, they recommended downloading TrialPad, TranscriptPad, and DocReviewPad. Since then, he’s more than mastered all three apps, incorporating them into his practice, and returning to FedTech U as its Chair.
Jimmy told us, “There really are four or five apps that I cannot live without, and three of them are in the LIT SUITE.” He took some time out to talk to us about why that is, and exactly how he uses them.
First, the Why
The LIT SUITE apps have made Jimmy’s practice more efficient in three main ways. First, his review of documents and depositions is faster and more effective. Second, he has automated much of the process of writing motions, letters to clients, position papers, and witness examinations. And third, his presentations in deposition, mediation, and trial are more dynamic and persuasive. Jimmy said that the effect of the LIT SUITE apps on his practice has been “absolutely phenomenal.”
Faster and More Effective Review
From early on in his practice, Jimmy has used color codes to categorize and indicate issues in case documents and transcripts. While that was previously done on paper with highlighters, pen marks, and no small dose of sticky notes, now Jimmy does the same work in DocReviewPad and TranscriptPad. Whether reviewing documents or transcripts, green refers to cross-examination, yellow is for a motion in limine, red indicates he needs to discuss a potential issue with his client, and so on.
In TranscriptPad, Jimmy uses the colors as broad-stroke categories. The colors are the “what” categories. He takes the additional step of naming an issue code to identify the “why” as well. For example, as he reviews a transcript, he will create a yellow issue code called “cumulative - Dr. Y”. At a glance he knows the “what” - it is a motion in limine issue because it is yellow, and “why” he marked it for exclusion is that his opinion is identical to that of Dr. Y.
Automate the Process of Legal Writing
After the deposition has been reviewed he typically creates reports depending on what the next step is in the case. For example, he will run a report on yellow (motion in limine) issue codes, exporting them in .txt format, and then paste the results into a Word document as the basis to write his motion around. He can do that report across a single transcript or an entire case, depending on what he needs, and easily see everything he would want excluded, and the reason why. He told us that judges reading his motions appreciate the depth of information from TranscriptPad, as the export he creates and adds to the motion. A small inset includes the page and specific line numbers as well as the text of the transcript, rather than the customary, “see deposition of X, pg. 35.”
In TranscriptPad, the same report can be created to form the basis of client letters, mediation position papers, and more. All of the reports are created in seconds, which saves Jimmy hours of time on every matter. Jimmy told us, “it is amazing how fast report results come back.”
Jimmy uses DocReviewPad in much the same way as TranscriptPad, with color-coded issue codes assigned to pages of documents in a given case production. After creating a motion in limine on testimony, he can create one based on documents in the case as well with a simple export from DocReviewPad which creates a folder of PDFs that he can reference and attach to his motion, as well as a report of which documents he’s moving to have excluded and why.
Dynamic and Persuasive Presentations
While TrialPad is the presentation app in the LIT SUITE, Jimmy uses the entire LIT SUITE during presentations. TranscriptPad and DocReviewPad allow him to quickly reference testimony and documents he may not have planned to use, especially in a hearing or mediation setting. At hearings, he can access and search all testimony in the case using TranscriptPad, which helps him quickly respond to argument with page-line detail, and the ability to read out the testimony that favors his argument. In a recent mediation, on a fairly substantial personal injury claim, Jimmy used the color-coding system with DocReviewPad and had the following issues coded including 1) prior arthritic changes left shoulder, 2) attorney-recommended doctor, 3) degenerative changes, 4) missed doctor appointments, 5) improvement after injury, 6) no objective evidence of trauma, 7) x-ray film - no fractures, and 8) smoker. Thus, when the mediator stated in a breakout session that the plaintiff stated she never had any problems with the left shoulder prior to the injury or that she suffered a dislocation of the shoulder after the injury, all Jimmy had to do was tap on the issue previously coded and he could debunk the contention with DocReviewPad in a matter of seconds with specific document references. Jimmy used DocReviewPad extensively in that mediation to quickly bring up pages in a very document-intensive case. He was easily the fastest person in the room to find a referenced section of a document. Halfway through the mediation, the mediator called Jimmy the “single source of truth” due to his ability to bring up a document and respond on the fly.
Remember how Jimmy used green issue codes for cross-examination? In trial, that means he can look at a green issue code called “back surgery 2 years”, and at a glance, he knows to ask, “Isn’t it true you had back surgery two years before this lawsuit?” In a trial, Jimmy can cross-examine a witness on the fly based on a deposition review he did months before. Thus, for example, if the judge allows a witness to be taken out of the planned order because of a scheduling issue, Jimmy can be ready for cross-examination in a matter of minutes. All he has to do is open TranscriptPad to the deposition and simply pull up the issues that have been coded in green and ask every cross-examination question he had marked in green. If the witness answers in a way that differs from their deposition testimony, he merely can tap on the designation to reveal the question and answer asked and refresh the witness’s memory or impeach them. That is the efficiency Jimmy is thinking of when he says the LIT SUITE is “absolutely phenomenal.”
When it comes to making his case presentation, Jimmy uses TrialPad initially to bring up documents and create demonstratives with the annotation tools and the Snapshot tool in TrialPad. He also uses other iPad apps to help illustrate a case to the jury. For example, he will open a 3D medical app and create a screen recording to orient the jury as to a particular part of the spine. He will then import the screen recording into TrialPad, and play it for the jury during opening, narrating live what they are seeing, and pausing as necessary. In closing, he often creates a demonstrative listing the plaintiff’s allegations and uses TrialPad to place the list on the left-hand side of the screen. Then on the right-hand side, he brings up documents and testimony from the trial to refute or disprove their theory of the case. Jimmy said, “The jury clearly sees ‘what the plaintiff is telling you’ on the left, and ‘what the evidence is telling you’ on the right. TrialPad really is a work of art.”
Prior to using the LIT SUITE apps, Jimmy tells us that he always felt like he had to also go to war with and wrestle with the voluminous documents and numerous transcripts in a case. Now, with the LIT SUITE apps, Jimmy indicated that he has one less war to fight and feels like he has complete mastery of the documents and transcripts in any case. Jimmy believes the LIT SUITE apps have made his practice “highly efficient and highly effective.” His ability to bring up testimony and evidence, and present when needed, makes him the most competent person in any room. And the proposition of going to a deposition, mediation, or trial is lightweight and mobile. Jimmy no longer brings a laptop, or boxes of documents. Instead, he brings an iPad and an Apple TV, plugs the Apple TV into a projector or television in the room and is ready to present wirelessly in seconds, from anywhere in the room. It is also worry-free. Jimmy told us, “The LIT SUITE is incredibly stable. I always use it in my most critical and most stressful cases.”
Update from Jimmy: “TranscriptPad was recently utilized to handle a crisis on a case with fast approaching motion (dispositive and Rule 702) deadlines in a case. Facing a motion deadline that was set to expire in two days, I had to pull together depo page references for multiple witnesses over dozens of topics all in a two-day time span working as the sole lawyer on the file. For this particular case, all I can say is the Transcript Pad app is like bringing a F-22 fighter jet to battle. The app has tremendous power and its ability to generate reports is top-of-the-line. It really saved the day and was a powerful tool in pulling together and accurately citing depo page references for multiple witnesses across multiple topics.”