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LIT SOFTWAREOct 16, 2018 12:00:00 AM5 min read

Featured Pro: Michael Beckelman


Michael Beckelman is a Partner in the Houston office of Wilson Elser, a regional chair of the Complex Tort and General Casualty practice team, and co-chair of the firm’s Design Professional practice. As a litigation supervisor, he works on and supervises approximately 100-120 active files. A couple of weeks ago Michael reached out to LIT SOFTWARE for more information regarding our apps and to discuss how they have made his practice more mobile and more efficient.

TrialPad Makes Its Case in Deposition
The first time Michael used TrialPad was about five years ago in a deposition in a construction defect case. At the time, none of the 15 or so parties attending the deposition had seen anything like it. Even the large conference room was crowded, and when everyone was jockeying for the best viewpoint to simultaneously view a 2’x3’ architectural drawing that was the subject of the witness’s testimony, Michael suggested TrialPad. He had previously loaded a PDF of the same drawing onto TrialPad, and brought it up on the conference room screen. Within a few minutes, everyone was back in their chairs. He was able to zoom into details of the drawing and call them out without losing resolution. The laser tool allowed the witness to easily specify each portion of the drawing he was discussing. Moreover, the witness was able to mark the drawing up.  In the end, the marked up exhibit on TrialPad was emailed to the court reporter for inclusion in the transcript as an exhibit. Already a believer in the mobility of the iPad, Michael was now also sold on the capabilities of TrialPad.

TranscriptPad Wins the Argument in Court
While TrialPad can hold all your documents, pertinent case law, videos, etc., TranscriptPad can be your best reference for every transcript in your case, including deposition testimony, hearing transcripts, and previous or related trial records. With both on your iPad, you will have everything you need to argue in any hearing. A case where this worked particularly well for Michael involved the plaintiff attempting to use a business record affidavit hearsay exception to get a root cause report admitted into evidence. Michael was opposed to the admission of the evidence and contested admission of the evidence based upon the trustworthiness of the conclusions. The judge requested evidence that the conclusions were not trustworthy. Prior to the hearing, Michael created an Issue Code within TranscriptPad for exactly this purpose, and was able to create and print a detailed PDF report for the judge within seconds. Impressed with his preparation and speed, the judge reviewed the TranscriptPad issue code report, and ruled in his favor precluding the admission of the contested evidence based upon the substance of the report provided from TranscriptPad. 

Settle in Mediation with TrialPad
The forum in which Michael presents with TrialPad most often is in mediation. Like most modern conference rooms, most mediation locations have plug-and-play technology, allowing Michael to show up, connect, and present. In a recent commercial auto accident matter, Michael used TrialPad with an Apple TV to present to the mediator and all parties. Everyone was always on the same page, whether reviewing a document or a photo, and the mediator’s questions were quickly addressed and answered as documents detailing Michael’s case were brought up on screen. As impressive as TrialPad is in court, it has the same effect in mediation. Most mediators still expect a slide presentation, PowerPoint, or saved PDFs, but Michael has used TrialPad to keep mediations dynamic and persuasive by quickly referencing and presenting relevant and persuasive documents, and highlighting relevant and persuasive information through callouts, highlighting, and annotations. Mediators love it.

An iPad (or two) Is Really All You Need
Michael’s practice is diverse and constant, and often requires travel. The ability to work anywhere, and bring everything important to your practice with you is important. Michael’s mobile law practice no longer includes a laptop. Instead, he brings two iPads, which are more easily carried and set up, and hold a charge for longer. Transferring files between iPads can easily be accomplished with with AirDrop, eliminating the need for thumb drives as well as laptop charger cables, and angry looks from flight attendants eager to shut down laptops, but happy enough to allow tablets of any kind. Between DocReviewPad, TranscriptPad, and TrialPad his entire case file can be accessed at any time he needs to reference a document, transcript, or video. Michael uses two iPads as a dual monitor workstation. This means that even on a plane, he can have a document open on one iPad, and draw up a response document using Word on the other.  Document drafts that need to be emailed can be placed in queue, and will be sent as soon as the iPad has connectivity, which means he’s working even as he walks off the plane.

Last time he went to trial, he left his laptop in the office, and brought two iPads and an Apple TV to court. No binders. No paper. While everything he expected was important to the case was brought into TrialPad, ready to present, the entire case file was stored within DocReviewPad, ready for easy export to TrialPad for presentation if necessary. DocReviewPad creates and maintains your Bates control, and allows for document culling and production prior to trial, but also works as the new electronic binder of the entire case record in court, allowing Michael the confidence of knowing that anything he could possibly need to reference, was a couple taps away. In trial, TrialPad works as Michael’s trial binder, holding all important evidence, organized into folders by witness or issue, and ready to present when necessary.

While documents can be compared side by side, called out, and highlighted to focus the jury’s attention on key points, TrialPad also makes video and photographic evidence comes alive for the jury. In one case, a series of photographs were taken after the case entered litigation, and the particular room in question had been altered. As the Plaintiff testified, the photographs were marked up to better reflect the changes to the original layout of the room, and tell the story of the case. All the annotations were saved in TrialPad. The judge loved it, and after trial, the jurors told opposing counsel he needed to step up his game

The iPad and key apps like LIT SOFTWARE’s DocReviewPad, TranscriptPad, and TrialPad have allowed Michael the freedom and ability to practice with confidence in any location and any forum.