Taking Notes on PCs and iPads With Synched Audio Recordings

There are a number of PC programs and iPad applications that can be used to audio record voices and sounds while an attorney takes notes—synching the recording to the notes for easy reference. This is an extremely useful tool when conducting witness interviews, attending meetings and when conducting or defending depositions

For example, suppose you are deposing the expert for an opposing party.   The expert gives long detailed answers during the course of the deposition.  If you have recorded the deposition with a program or app that synchs the recording with your notes, you simply highlight or click your note entry on the particular part of the testimony in which you have interest, and that section of the deposition recording is played back for your review.  You can then determine whether you are satisfied with the testimony or whether further examination is required.  It’s like having real time court reporting without the expense.

Those that follow this blog know that I am a big fan of MS OneNote for the PC.  See   The Paperless Lawyer, http://hytechlawyer.com/?p=95  OneNote has many useful case management attributes.  One of them is an audio recording feature that permits creating a recording that is correlated with the typewritten notes being taken.  Access this functionality by clicking on the microphone on the tool bar.  Video recording is also supported.

On the iPad, there are a number of applications that provide this same functionality (audio only).  My favorite is AudioNote ($4.99 App Store).  AudioNote is unique because it records and synchs with handwritten notes, or typed notes, or both.  As you play back the audio, your notes (handwritten and/or typed) are highlighted.  If you want to hear the part of the recording that correlates with a particular section in your notes, just tap on the words and voila, the App advances or reverses to that section of the recording.  I really would of loved to had an App like AudioNote when I was a student back in the dark ages.

In preparation for a recent deposition, I preloaded my examination outline (cut and paste) into AudioNote on the iPad.  I took notes for the deposition by hand and typing, while simultaneously also using the recording function of the App (after informing those present of my use of a recording device—see below).  In my preloaded outline, I had a checklist for each of my “objectives” for the deposition. As that objective was addressed by witness testimony, I simply checked it off the list. On a break toward the end of the deposition, I then reviewed the key testimony by tapping my objective checkmarks on the outline.  The App then played the correlated testimony.  I found the quick review of testimony to be very useful.

Obviously, there are many situations in which a recorded backup synched to your notes could be useful.  However, one word of caution, a number of jurisdictions require that everyone present be informed that that they are being recorded.  In my home jurisdiction of  South Carolina, the general rule is that an attorney may not surreptitiously record anybody, i.e., that everyone be informed.

As a practical matter because my practice takes me all over the country, when recording, I advise everyone in the room.  I have not had any objections so far to the recording of deposition testimony. This is probably because the deposition is being recorded anyway by the Court Reporter (often with an audio recorder backup) and deponents expect to be recorded.  In the case of investigations and meetings, you will need to assess whether the advantages of recording outweigh the potential disadvantage of chilling discussion or candid responses.

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