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Remember the days of yore, when you took notes on legal pads and recorded voice memos with a handheld recorder? Ever lose your notes or leave them at the office? Ever print or copy-and-paste something interesting off of a website, only to be unable to find the site later?
Evernote is an app that has the potential to replace all of those ancient tools. Using your tablet, smart phone, or computer, you can record voice memos, make sketches, type up notes, or take a quick picture. Each of these is stored to a notebook, which can be used in a manner similar to a those manila folders that you used to use to hold torn-off pages from legal pads and cassette tapes from your voice recorder.
The obvious use here would be to use a different notebook for each client, storing notes, sketches, to-do lists, voice memos, and audio recordings of meetings. Or for lawyers moonlighting as musicians, you could quickly record a guitar riff or 120 bars of freestyled insults against Mens Rea, your legally-themed rap rival.
None of this is too groundbreaking. After all, many of us have been taking notes in Microsoft Word or OneNote for years. Some of us have even carried one of those micro-cassette recorders.
It is nice to have one app to rule 'em all though, right? All of your notes and notebooks are also synced via the cloud to your other devices. A sketch on your tablet appears on your PC and phone within moments. Your paralegal can add a note, quote from a case, or citations and it will appear on your device while you're standing in court.
Another feature, available as a separate download, is the Evernote Web Clipper. It's an extension to your browser that allows you to clip pieces of web pages as notes, along with a link back to the original content. When quickly flipping through webpages, such as when researching for a case, it allows you to save snippets and quotes with a couple clicks for later use.
Of course, the free version has its limits. There is a usage meter that tracks the amount of data uploaded and downloaded. Once you've hit the sixty-megabyte cap, which is easy to do if you record a lot of audio or upload numerous photos, the cloud-syncing feature stops working until the next month, though the individual apps continue to work.
Paid licenses raise the data cap significantly but require a monthly fee of $5 for individuals ($10 if you want the special business version) - enough to remove the app from beyond the domain of an impulse buy and into the territory of "do I need this?" Still, if you're moving to a paperless office, Evernote could save $10 a month in office supplies alone.