Lawyers in their various incarnations (attorneys, barristers, advocates) have very different workflows and needs to many of the other disciplines who use Devonthink. Now and again there has been a post in this forum focussing on how lawyers use Devonthink, most notably by John Maassen, but it is a topic which deserves more attention. I hope in this thread to make an occasional series of posts on Devonthink for lawyers.
For lawyers who use Macs, Devonthink is particularly interesting. While Windows has a number of interesting software packages, especially for trial lawyers, the custom Mac solutions for lawyers who want to be paperless tend to be very expensive and inflexible.
The difficulty for lawyers, busy as they are with their day jobs, is that the freeform nature of Devonthink makes it difficult to see its value without a great deal of trial and error and some guidance. Over the course of the last three years I have found that Devonthink has a power and flexibility for managing trial litigation that few other pieces of software can match. Formally time consuming tasks become trivial and the interesting work of finding the diamonds in the dross much more rewarding. I hope that some of the workflows and insights I will share show what Devonthink is capable of and how useful it can be for lawyers.
Being a trial lawyer myself, these posts will have a bias in that direction, but I hope others, whose practice may have a different emphasis, will add their own commentary to the thread as it progresses. Most of these posts will focus on those who practice solo or with a small number of other lawyers and assistants, simply because Devonthink is better suited to that, and corporate firms are likely straitjacketed into a non-Mac solution anyway.
Over the course of these posts I will look at some of the following topics :-
- Litigation workflows
- Structuring a database for litigation
- Preparing documents for use in Devonthink
- Bates numbering
- Document review
- Approaches to research and document annotation
- Chronologies and summaries
- Dealing with email
- Collaborating with non-Devonthink users
- Exporting for witnesses, discovery and trial
None of what I post about is intended to be canonical but is merely one way to approach a workflow. Your workflow and therefore your solution is likely to be different. This is especially so in a world where every legal jurisdiction has it owns standards and requirements. Hopefully though lawyers who read these posts will find enough in common to devise a workflow for themselves from these posts.