Nicole Snapp-Holloway is an attorney at Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst, PLLC in Edmond, Oklahoma. Nicole has been in practice for 23 years, focusing the past 13 years on plaintiffs’ nursing home cases. A long-time LIT SUITE fan, she has found over the years that even though TrialPad is the flagship app of the LIT SUITE, the vast majority of her daily work happens in DocReviewPad and TranscriptPad.
The bulk of Nicole’s practice is brief writing and appellate work, both of which require reviewing, analyzing, and understanding an enormous amount of case data for each and every case. For that task, Nicole’s go-to tool is the LIT SUITE. In fact, she told us, “I don’t know how people analyze or review cases without DocReviewPad and TranscriptPad.”
Nicole is a systems person and experience has taught her that complex or difficult tasks become easier and more manageable whenever there is a system in place.
When documents arrive at her office they’re organized, scanned, and imported into DocReviewPad. Nicole assigns bates numbers to all the documents, and then begins her process of breaking large documents down into smaller manageable pieces using the Split or Extract tools in DocReviewPad. As she breaks down the documents, she organizes them into folders by topic. This ensures that future searches and exports will yield precise results, rather than more nebulous results that may require yet another review. Nicole told us, “The secret to using DocReviewPad really well is to take the time to build the case. The front end work of breaking up the large documents has the effect of breeding familiarity with the documents, but more importantly, the time spent doing it pays off in usefulness, saving days’ or weeks’ worth of time throughout the lifetime of the case.”
After breaking down large documents, Nicole assigns Issue Codes to just about everything in the case. In a typical nursing home record, the chart would be broken down into nursing notes, physicians’ orders, medication administration records, treatment administration records, etc. Issue Codes might include the names of doctors, nurses, aides, or other treaters; important dates or time frames; medications; order changes; assessments etc. Further, each of those categories might be assigned a specific color, i.e. each witness will have their own Issue Code, but all witnesses are yellow. As she reviews, she also makes pointed observations with the Notes annotation tool.
Once everything is organized and issue coded it’s easy to know, for example, which particular treater was involved in changing a medication dosage on a specific date. She would know that type of information immediately by referencing a prescription Issue Code (maybe “prescription up”, “prescription down”, “medication X”) in the medical administration records folder, overlapping with an Issue Code for “change” and an Issue Code for “treater Y”. A note she may have added to the resulting document will contain any information she believes necessary to provide additional context.
When Nicole began using DocReviewPad, she was impressed with the amount of flexibility it offers. She told us, “You can use DocReviewPad and organize however you like. 90% of the time you can implement whatever process you already have in place in your practice - but with DocReviewPad it will be faster.”
In fact, Nicole organized her cases in a similar way before DocReviewPad even existed, but she used to use Adobe Acrobat and a complicated file and folder structure on her computer. Using Adobe and her custom folder structure took much more time (in days), and there was no way to manage and record her work for a partner or associate to pick up and use when joining in on a case; and there was no way to create reports. DocReviewPad has made all that easy. Now, any work she has done can easily be shared with someone else in the firm if necessary and they can step in without reading 4,000 pages of records.
DocReviewPad is Nicole’s tool before deposition, and TranscriptPad is her tool during deposition. Prior to deposition, Nicole simply exports any documents that have Issue Codes relevant to that particular witness. She sends that exported file to her opposing counsel ahead of time with a note that says, “here are all the documents I might use in this deposition.” That same export becomes the foundation for her deposition outline. The export takes seconds, and a process that used to take several days, becomes a straightforward day-before prep session.
During deposition, Nicole ensures TranscriptPad is loaded with the entire transcribed record of the case to date. A search for a term referenced by a previous witness yields instant results during the deposition. This allows her to compare other testimony of witnesses, experts, etc. and refine her questions for every witness as the deposition proceeds.
Nicole handles a large volume of her firm’s appellate work, and she finds DocReviewPad and TranscriptPad useful at trial as well. When monitoring for appellate issues, she always has her iPad and DocReviewPad with her. This allows her to cull through the volume quickly, making issue codes and notes in the moment, and adding to any preparation she did before trial. Nicole also adds daily trial transcripts to TranscriptPad, rounding out the record of deposition and hearing testimony on the case. After trial, all her work in DocReviewPad and TranscriptPad as the case evolved pays enormous dividends as she finds that the appellate work “writes itself”.
TranscriptPad in trial is another great resource to have at her fingertips. In a recent pre-trial hearing for a case with about 30 depositions there was an objection from opposing counsel stating that an expert witness never talked about a particular subject. Nicole searched that expert’s testimony, and used the Annotate Search Results Tool to create an Issue Code from the results in seconds, showing the judge that the witness had actually discussed it multiple times in their deposition testimony.
Nicole’s appellate work is often for cases where she was not heavily involved with the underlying litigation. She finds that when she begins work on an appellate case she has not previously worked on, it is important to quickly understand the underlying case so that she can develop the argument for appeal. To do this, she brings all the pleadings in the appellate index into DocReviewPad, breaks them up and adds Issue Codes for legal issues, marking sections to see the progression of the legal arguments. Then, she’s easily able to pull exhibits out and organize her thoughts.
TranscriptPad is also extremely helpful to search and sort through the record quickly, including depositions, hearings, and trial transcripts. Like in DocReviewPad, Nicole searches the record and creates Issue Codes for legal issues. Relevant testimony is then easy to locate, reference, and copy and paste as necessary.
A recent 10th circuit qualified immunity appeal included an Appendix with eight volumes of records and transcripts. Between DocReviewPad and TranscriptPad, it was easy to pull all information and issues for the appellate brief. For example, she was able to find all the medical evidence presented to the court about the death in the underlying case in mere seconds.
Nicole takes seriously the ABA rules and recommendations on using technology in the practice of law, telling us, “There is an obligation to your client to find technology that will make your representation to them effective.” She devotes a portion of her time in practice learning to be more efficient, including researching and implementing new technologies. Since she found the LIT SUITE, the efficiencies created with DocReviewPad and TranscriptPad have allowed Nicole to create massive amounts of product in a very small period of time, including brief writing, deposition preparation, and appellate work. In her practice, those efficiencies also mean better quality work product, and the ability to take on more work than ever before. As she told us, “I don’t know why you’d review any other way.”