The following Guest Post is from one of my readers, John Millard, an attorney in Texas, in which he explains how he implemented his new MacBook Air into his practice:
I bought my new 13′ MacBook Air three weeks ago at a local Apple Store. I opted for the higher end 2.13 GHz processor and 4GB of memory. I also purchased trial presentation software called TrialSmart made by Clarity Legal Software. In order to display in high definition, I picked up a DVI connector and long HDMI cable.
Out of the box, everything worked perfectly. In no time at all, I was able to load exhibits (mostly pdf’s) into the software and present them on our HD display. TrialSmart is simple to learn, and it’s incredibly easy to mark-up and call out portions of exhibits on the fly.
I had Clarity Legal synchronize a video deposition to its transcript, which they returned in less than a day at minimal cost. I simply put the transcript (.ptx) and video (.mpg) into the public folder of my Dropbox, and Clarity synched everything up and emailed back a synch file to load into TrialSmart.
Once the synchronized transcript was loaded into TrialSmart, I was able to easily create video clips for impeachment use and strings of clips for a video deposition offer. When a video clip is called up for presentation, the screen shows the witness testifying with the synced transcript scrolling directly beneath the witness. I have to tell you, the MacBook Air and TrialSmart combo works very well.
Putting it to the test
I had a chance to try the new system out last week in mediation. Using my trusty Rubbermaid utility cart, I was able to haul a 40” monitor, case file and backpack containing the MacBook Air and cables to the mediator’s office. Setup was super easy, consisting of connecting a mini display adapter to an HDMI cable and then plugging it into the monitor positioned at the end of a conference table. The MBA immediately recognized the monitor as a secondary display.
During mediation, I was able to seamlessly switch between Keynote and TrialSmart. With a few clicks of the magic mouse, I presented and marked-up emails and medical records while making points during the opening session. The ability to zoom in within a document and underline text using TrialSmart’s annotation tools was especially effective.
I didn’t have a chance to use video clips at mediation, but intend to do so next week when presenting testimony at a hearing. I’ve practiced playing back impeachment clips enough now that I feel comfortable in my ability to pull up and present video excerpts. Because creating new video clips is as easy as highlighting text on the transcript, I’ll be able to create impeachment clips on the fly. This setup is so simple, I’m confident I’ll have no problem operating everything by myself while examining witnesses.
We use PC’s in the office, but have considered going all Mac when it’s time to replace our existing system. For now, the purchase of the MacBook Air is a great start toward the goal of switching to an all Mac office.
The MBA is particularly well suited for trial and mediation presentation, so even in an all PC office, this laptop would be an excellent addition to your trial arsenal. Because I’ve found TrialSmart to be easy to learn and dead simple to operate, I’m confident I can use this setup by myself during mediation or while questioning witnesses at trial. It was easy to immediately put the MBA to work in my practice in an effective and practical way. So far, I really love this laptop.
Handling wrongful death, serious personal injury, auto and trucking accidents, divorce, custody and general civil litigation in the Houston and Sugar Land, Texas region. John Millard is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.