Workspaces - Appellate Advocacy

I have been a DT user for 5 years and it is definitely software whose functions need to be peeled away layer by layer by the average user. Because it is a matrix of functions in one app that is designed ( but need not be used ) to be not just an app but the engine room of your computing. It is software that the ordinary user has to apply a lot of focus to in order to use its power.

In an appellate environmental case I am doing there are 2 appeals each with 4 legal points or issues to resolve. The appellate documentation from the hearing in the lower court is about 6 GB with case law all electronically bundled.

For each trial of this nature as it approaches a hearing I put it into a separate database so the search function in the standard database pane will only search that database because the global search parameters are too wide.

When it comes to the oral hearing I have addressed each of the 8 legal points in separate arguments using a spreadsheet. Each point of law has an array of materials ( evidential and legal) I want to refer to. These are identified in the spreadsheet references in legal shorthand e.g. CB 2/3/1327 = common bundle vol 2 tab 3 page 1327.

I then use individual workspaces function in the 'Go" menu item to open all the materials relating to each point identified by appeal point number. I can cycle through the opened windows for each item using keyboard shortcuts. The workspaces are like opening 10 binder volumes in all the right places ready for argument on each point. Because each document in DT and each page has its own url you can open a pdf of say a decision of another Court at the key paragraph you have highlighted and want to refer to. The correct naming of files means you can check the name of the document in the window pane. This is extraordinarily convenient.

Workspaces are also good for active files where you are working on a problem that involves getting documents on the screen quickly.

These tools are amazing but to maximise them you need to use them regularly and have good file management hygiene by which I mean using the functions as you work to get back to the place you were working easily.

As Court systems become more electronic D T provides a way to take them and work on them conveniently and turn up at Court confident you can address the material better and faster than with hard copy.

Interestingly, this case was a biodiversity case concerning rare habitat for a threatened seabird and a proposed marine farm. At the lower Court I appeared for the local authority alone opposing with my Macbook Pro. It went for 2 weeks and involved dense marine and avian science. I was 52. The 30 year old lawyers (x3) for the applicant turned up with 15 eastlite folders in a van. They could not get their head around it . I won round one and so did the birds. Only D T (as far as I know) could have a helped me achieve that level of portability.

This is great advice, for newbies and old hands alike, and it really helps to know how and why you use each step in the process. Thanks so much for sharing your workflow with us!

By the way, about the search, you can narrow it down in Tools -> Search -> “Search in:” so that you can specify individual groups. Alternatively, of course, there are the advanced search parameters, which I imagine could be really helpful for a specific case you know you will be accessing. In this respect, the saved searches might come in handy. That said, there are sometimes very good reasons to have separate databases as well.

Thanks so much for this, John. Not only is it great to hear that DT was in your corner against those youngsters, but it’s also a great example of workspace use.

DEVONthink is a deep and powerful app, leaving many things to be discovered as the situation arises. It’s part of what I love about it. There’s always something new to learn about it! :smiley:

This is an excellent case for the workspace feature, which might not get as much attention in the forum as it deserves. A the database viewed in a workspace does not need to be open at the time you press that workspace’s keyboard shortcut – invoking the shortcut will open the database and the saved view.