An Unpaid Endorsement of the iPad and Apple Pencil (Which I Would Gladly Revise To A Paid Endorsement if Only Tim Cook Would Hook Me Up)

I got my first iPad in 2013 when starting up my previous firm.  I am relatively sure I did not use it to its potential.  Over time, it became kind of glorified paperweight, if I’m being honest about it.

That was not for lack of trying to make it useful, however.  I actually bought a stylus to use in attempting to take notes on the iPad.  My attempt to make this particular use of my iPad did not last long.  The lag time between the motion of my hand when “writing” to when the writing appeared on the screen was fairly substantial, and certainly, highly annoying.  Back to paper I went.

In 2019, I picked up a new iPad pro (12.9-inch, which I recommend) and apple pencil, and it has fundamentally changed the way I use paper.  By which I mean I have a bunch of legal pads I will likely not use anymore.

The Apple Pencil is really quite remarkable.  There is a very slight lag time between the marks one makes on the surface of the iPad and the appearance on the electronic paper on the screen.  It is close enough in time however, to be almost unnoticeable.  You have to really pay attention to notice it, and if you’re not paying attention, it feels no different than writing with ink on paper. 

It also performs like a pen (I typically use it in pen mode -blue ink).  It is pressure sensitive, and truthfully, if you take notes long enough, you forget that you’re not actually writing in ink.

I use the Goodnotes app.  This is the version I downloaded in 2013, which re-loaded onto my iPad pro.  It is a simple app where you set up different notebooks, and as you fill up pages, you add more.  It is very straightforward and easy to use.  Most importantly, it allows you to export either the page you’re writing on or the entire notebook.  This is huge.  I try to be as paperless as I can be and with notes from phone calls, what that means is that I need to scan and store the notes electronically, then shred the notes.  That has actually proven to be somewhat of an issue.  Under the best of circumstances, it is labor-intensive.  By the way, if you are like me and a solo practitioner without an assistant, “labor-intensive” is a four-letter word.  However, I have a Brother DCP L-5600DN multi-purpose printer/scanner/copier, which I have been otherwise very happy with, except when it comes to scanning multiple pages of notes from legal pads.  Legal pad paper – whether it is too thin, to thick, or something else – seems to jam a lot.  And so I have resigned myself to maintaining paper files containing my notes.  With the iPad pro and Apple Pencil, along with the Goodnotes app, everything begins and ends electronically, no scanning involved.

One additional quirk of the Apple pencil which is fun and helpful (although I forget about it quite a bit) is that you can double tap the shaft of the pencil and it will toggle back and forth between (I believe) the last two settings.  So, for me, I’m typically toggling back and forth between a blue pen and an eraser, or a blue pen and a yellow highlighter.  More often than not, I forget about this, and just tap the icons at the top of the screen in the Goodnotes app.  But when I remember this feature, I do really like it.

The late, great comedian, Mitch Hedberg, once said, “I bought a seven-dollar pen because I always lose pens and I got sick of not caring.”  Well, I will care a lot if I lose my Apple Pencil because it set me back $125.00.  But it was worth it, if nothing else, from the standpoint of time saved NOT needing to scan paper into electronic files (and the frustration of the inevitable paper jams).

At some point I plan to post a blog about how technology has stealthily lowered the barriers of entry for lawyers, because I think all the time about how the way I practice law and the efficiencies I can pass along to my clients would not have been possible when I first began practicing law.  The Apple Pencil and iPad pro fall into that category.  Other things, like online legal research and e-filing, are more significant to be sure, but look: lawyers take notes.  Those notes have to go somewhere.  Using the iPad pro an Apple Pencil is probably the quickest way to go from taking notes to storing those notes electronically, and that is important, too.