How Lawyers Use Evernote

Evernote is more than a note-taking application. We use it to store ideas, recordings, projects, tasks, images…The list is as comprehensive as we want it to be. Evernote allows us to offload our brain and organize our lives.

And how do lawyers use Evernote? I asked a few Evernote-loving lawyers. Here are their stories.

Evernote Lawyers
Ben Stevens – I use Evernote on a regular basis for two main things: (1) keeping track of ideas for blog posts (through Clearly and/or Evernote Web Clipper), and (2) as a repository for notes, documents, and ideas for the various AAML Committees on which I serve. The ability to easily get information into Evernote and then access it whenever and wherever I need it make it an invaluable tool for me.

David Sparks – I use Evernote a lot more for my personal business than my legal work. I do, however, like to use Evernote to store legal research. I keep links to useful web articles and PDFs containing research materials. I use both notebooks and tags for this purpose. I know Evernote security is better than a lot of servers sitting in lawyers’ offices but I still haven’t got myself to a point that I’d put anything sensitive there.

Jay Fleischman – I use Evernote to save scraps of information I find online as well as in my daily travels. Pictures, articles, snippets of audio – it all goes into Evernote. I also share notebooks with business partners so we can collaborate on projects more effectively.

Jeffrey Lewis – Evernote is an essential organizational tool for my business litigation and appellate practice. When a new matter comes into the office, a new Evernote notebook is immediately created for the matter. As the case progresses, the following are typical notes created: Witness Interviews, Deposition Outlines, Discovery Needs, Photographs, Key Cases, Notes, Opening Statement and Closing Argument. All of the notes (and most PDFs of key documents) are word searchable in the Evernote database.

All of the firm’s legal research is compiled in separate Evernote notes with headings and tags to call the note up at a later date for any case.

Any note can be easily accessed on any phone, tablet or computer running the program. During trials, any extensive editing of notes is done on the laptop but reading and using the notes occurs on an iPad which is much more convenient to hold or bring to the podium during trial.

John E. Harding – Using Evernote To Import Business Cards Into Your Contacts

  • Step One: Lay a business card down on a flat surface.
  • Step Two: Launch Evernote on your smartphone, click on the Camera icon, then select the Business Card option.
  • Step Three: Move your camera over the business card until Evernote detects it and then automatically takes the picture for you.
  • Step Four: Evernote then reads the business card and imports all of the information as a new contact in your Evernote account. Nothing for you to do but watch.
  • Step Five: Tell Evernote to send the information to the Contacts app on your phone. Evernote completes the task immediately, and that biz card buddy’s information is now in your system.
  • Step Six: Synchronize you phone contacts with whatever other Contact program(s) you use. Nothing could be easier.
  • Bonus: If you have a LinkedIn account, Evernote has a one-click feature at the end of the business card scan so that you can connect on LinkedIn with your new business card buddy.

Joseph A. (Joe) Bahgat – I’ve been using Evernote in my law practice for a little over three years, and during that time, the way I’ve used it has varied. Having said that, I’ve found a few things that Evernote does better than anything else I’ve tried, so there are a couple uses that have remained constant for me:

  1. As a repository for research and information, e.g. case law, statutes, treatise excerpts, web content; and
  2. As a place to collect and archive all of my informal handwritten notes, post-its, telephone messages, etc.

Evernote’s tagging system makes it perfect for storing research and reference material; every judicial opinion that goes in gets tagged with the jurisdiction, area of law, legal issues/holdings, and anything else that might be a relevant search topic later.

Recently I’ve started using Evernote’s reminders and task list features. This is particularly useful when I forward an email with a project or list of tasks to my Evernote account. The only drawback I’ve come across is I keep most of my task/project lists in OmniFocus (or the Reminders app.), so if I put a task list in Evernote I might possibly forget about it. As much as I use and love Evernote, however, I feel like it has so much more potential than what I’ve been able to unlock.

Katie Floyd – While I don’t actually put any client data into Evernote, I use it for just about “everything else” in my practice. My partners and I have shared notebooks for special projects where we can add information and notes. I have dedicated notebook with general office information, business contracts and the like. I keep a notebook of “samples” so anytime I find a letter, form pleading, motion or other item that I may want to borrow from in the future, it goes in the sample notebook.

I also have a notebook dedicated to legal research where I take advantage of tags to categorize cases based on practice area and subject. This allows me to create my own library of legal research that I can update and pull from.

Check out: Mac Power Users 198: Evernote Power Tips – a podcast hosted by Katie Floyd and David Sparks.

Philippe Doyle Gray – I use Evernote to reduce cognitive load. I have an Evernote notebook titled “Processes and Procedures.” It details recurring tasks to be performed by others to my exacting specifications. I sit down and write the Evernote once, and regardless of how detailed it may be, I no longer need to recall its detail—just that the detail exists in a place where it can be found easily.

  • How do I write the research memorandum for you? The way it says in Processes and Procedures.
  • How do I know what papers to release when someone claiming to be the client calls up? The way it says in Processes and Procedures.
  • I need to buy more coloured paper for the printer—do you have a picture of the package it came in? It’s in Processes and Procedures.
  • How do I configure the office wifi for guest access to a client running Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion? As per Processes and Procedures.
  • What’s the after-hours security procedure for the office? It’s in Processes and Procedures.
  • We had a power blackout and now I need to re-configure the networked office printer—how do I do that? Processes and Procedures.
  • How do I remove metadata from a PDF file? Processes and Procedures. How do I number headings in Word? Processes and Procedures. Who does what at end-of-month? Processes and Procedures.

See: Philippe’s excellent paper on how to optimize your use of Evernote.

Tom Mighell – I mostly use Evernote as a reference tool. When I catch up on the news every day, I save any articles I want to follow up on (check out a new app, read a “how-to” article that will help me on my computer) to an Evernote Notebook. Although I don’t use Evernote for reading of longer articles (I use Pocket for that), I do use Evernote as a more permanent repository for the articles that I want to keep for reference purposes.

I also use Evernote to plan vacations, saving websites and my own notes as I research the place(s) I am going. Finally, I use Evernote as my own “personal Yelp” – when I come across a restaurant around the country that looks interesting (in a magazine, on the Food Network, etc.), I save the web page with the restaurant’s menu to my “Food” notebook, and tag it with the name of the city where it’s located. Then when I’m traveling, I make sure to check out the tag for my destination ahead of time, to see if there are any restaurants there worth checking out.

If you’re a lawyer who uses Evernote and would like to weigh in with tips and suggestions, or have questions, please use the comment box below. We’d love to hear from you.

See also: A Lawyer’s Guide to Evernote E-Book

5 Responses to “How Lawyers Use Evernote”

  1. Gary Smith

    I create a separate client file for each of my clients and I store all email communications there so they are handy wherever I go. My initial consult with each client is carried out using my iPad and a form I created for evernote that helps me make sure I deal with all relevant issues when I first meet a new client. By the time I am through with the initial consult form, my paralegal knows what needs to go into the initial pleadings that we will file in the case. Evernote makes it easy to share these consult notes by email or other preferred method. I also use evernote to store opinions from South Carolina appellate courts as they are sent to us from the Courts. When I use the evernote clipper to save a particular opinion dealing with a Family Court matter, I add tags that include the year of the opinion and the various subjects that are discussed in the opinion. I use it to keep track of important receipts and I use it organize recipes I find online and want to use later.

    Reply
  2. Adam S

    The inability to print in the current version is a real problem. Second, I would like to be able to save an Evernote page in another file on the computer. We have client files on the computer that everything (EN) goes in. I do not want to have to check an EN client file and the actual client file. Would like to clip articles and save them outside of EN

    Thanks. Adam

    Reply
  3. J.R. Pitts

    You can export both individual and multiple notes in a couple different formats, including HTML (Evernote will create a master link page for multiple notes.) The ability to print (including to a PDF if your system has the driver) has been available for awhile.

    Reply
  4. Tom Lockwood

    Agree with JR – Printing and export are not a problem. A couple of thoughts that have been very helpful include:
    – recurring tasks – Build notes for recurring processes or content – checklists, boilerplate, ltrs, forms, notes, references.
    – link note to activities – you can insert note links into calendars. address books, task and task lists; Key information is always available, support blocking time for tasks and increases productivity.
    – Detailed Contact Note – Use evernote for your Contact Management System. Create a notebook “Contacts” and Tags “Contact Log” and “Contact” and create detailed contact notes (copy Linkedin Profile, Photo, add materials, build insights, and preferences). In the note title use name and key contact information; and add note link into your address book URL. From there – can always link that note url into other notes, documents, agenda, schedule and builds into a very mature Contact Management System.
    – Meetings – Create a note, include the mtg agenda and related attachments or links for other notes or web content (read-ahead materials, references, other notes including related meetings or attendee bios); web links to read ahead information, references, directions or note links to attendee notes or related notes – All of the information is available for prep. When done, add a summary of key issues/outcomes of the meeting.
    – Tags – use precise naming and use of tags – but use liberally in notes. Makes boolean searches to find content much quicker.
    Evernote can be an incredible tool.

    Reply

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