Replace the Legal Pad!

There are few tools or devices that are uniform to nearly all types of law practice, yet also used almost exclusively by lawyers. Probably the single most important one of those tools is the Legal Pad. Seriously, other than lawyers, who else uses them regularly once they’re done with college? Exactly. Yet, if you’re a practicing lawyer (or spend much time around us), you know that we’re rarely without them. So here’s my pitch: Replace the Legal Pad!

It has been my position for YEARS that the technological innovation that would be the lawyer’s version of “building a better mousetrap” was something that could eliminate the need for the legal pad. Evernote’s Penultimate 4.1 may be the closest thing yet to that proverbial “better mousetrap.”

For more detailed reviews of Evernote’s Penultimate 4.1, check out our Review Catalog.

evernote_logo_center_4c-smAt its heart, Penultimate 4.1 is a note-taking app. Using either your finger or a stylus, you can use the screen of your tablet just as you would your notepad – at least that’s what Evernote hopes you’ll believe. Despite my sarcasm (and skepticism), Penultimate actually succeeds at putting together a lot of the aspects of a legal pad, provided you don’t mind carrying around a stylus (which I hate).

However, the best feature in the updated version of Penultimate has little to do with note-taking, but a LOT to do with one of my recurring themes in this blog – security. Assuming you’re paying for Evernote’s premium services ($45 annually), Penultimate allows the user to add an extra layer of security to their saved notes beyond simply logging in to the tablet. Think about it: how often do you allow others to use your tablet, requiring you to enter in your login information and hand it over to them? A lot, probably. And it’s quite likely that the people you allow to use your tablet are not always going to be people that you’re comfortable allowing to see your work-product-protected notes regarding your cases. The new passcode feature means you’ll never have to deal with that again.

For a further look at the new features available in Penultimate 4.1, check out this video:

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  • CaptainParker

    So….where is the increase in efficiency? Instead of writing on paper, you write in the tablet. Net gain – zero…but you get to pay a $45 annual fee. Sorry, but getting technology just for the sake of getting technology is not worth it.

  • MultusNeMultus

    The increase in efficiency for me is access to information I need away from the office. A note does me no good during a hearing or mediation when that note is in a filing cabinet in another location. Regarding the premium service subscription, I may have to reconsider when I need more space, but for now the free service meets my needs. Incidentally, I use Notability instead of Penultimate because I can “open in” individual files in an encryption app.

  • Bernard Stea

    I agree with your premise – saving time by capturing notes electronically Improves efficiency. What I didn’t see in the review is handwriting recognition – converting notes to text. That makes taking notes extremely efficient. It is now available with apps like 7NotesHD, and you can choose which notes to convert, and which to leave as handwriting. I’m assuming it will eventually make its way to Penultimate. That, combined with Evernote , will be a great combination.

    • Brian Focht

      I tend to think handwriting analysis/conversion is never really going to be an effective method of data entry on the most sophisticated systems, but I freely admit that my basis for that belief is how it’s worked in the past. It’s quite entertaining to think, though, that the QWERTY keyboard, which everyone has gotten used to, is decidedly SO inefficient on touch screens that, with no other option really acceptable to the public, handwriting recognition may actually become necessary.

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