iPad app helps trial lawyers with depositions

By Sylvia Hsieh

The Daily Record Newswire

A new app for the iPad helps trial lawyers create and organize deposition questions.

The Deponent App has 150 generic deposition questions that lawyers can modify for their individual witnesses and link to exhibits. The questions are organized into stock categories, such as admonitions, expert qualifications, accident and basis of opinion.

Lawyers can create their own questions and categories, and each question has a text box where you can type a witness' answer. A flagging system lets lawyers mark certain questions with flags, and supports up to four different color-coded flags.

"You can build a deposition outline online, email it to yourself so you have a record, and use your iPad in depositions with the listed questions," said Joshua Gilliland, an attorney in Santa Clara, Calif. who created the app.

Gilliland got the idea for the app after coaching high school students in a mock trial who used cloud computing to share deposition questions. Around the same time, a friend who is a local trial lawyer told Gilliland how much he wanted an iPad but didn't know how to use it in his everyday practice.

"Depositions are the backbone of discovery. Every litigator on the planet takes a deposition. I also wanted something accessible to solos and small firm lawyers," said Gilliland, a former construction defects litigator.

Angela Storey, an in-house attorney with Farmers Insurance who defends personal injury cases, has debuted Deposition App in three depositions since the app was released on April 15.

It was the first time Storey, who conducts several depositions per week, had found a reason to use her iPad at work.

Her favorite feature is the ability to link exhibits to deposition questions.

"Typically, I'll ask questions about someone's medical history. Rather than having to bring in a two-foot stack of medical records, I imported one or two documents that I was interested in and linked to the question, so when I got to that question, I could go back to the medical record by just tapping on it," Storey said.

The hardest part was building up the stock questions and typing them into the iPad, she said.

"Getting started takes a little while in terms of getting your own questions in there and lined up. Once I did that, it was fun to use," she said.

The start-up time might be an issue for lawyers in particular practice areas.

Michael Berman, a commercial litigator in Bethesda, Md., noted that Deposition App is "designed for certain types of cases" and would require groundwork to create stock questions.

"If you were doing a contract case, it might not have stock questions [for that type of case]," said Berman, an attorney with Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver.

While the flagging system allows you to tailor flags for your own purpose, Berman noted that Deponent App doesn't allow you to filter by flags, such as if you wanted to call up all questions you have flagged as "instructed not to answer."

A tweak solving a security concern in the original version is already in the works. The 1.1 version of Deponent App will change its default sync folder to Drop Box from its original default location, which was the public folder. The new default folder will not be in the public folder.

The change is imminent, pending approval from Apple, Gilliland said.

The Deposition App costs $9.99 and is available through Majority Opinion's website www.molimited.com

Published: Thu, May 12, 2011