Livescribe’s Echo Smartpen has taken my note taking to a new level. I love using technology that saves me time. Time saved means I can get more done – equals me making more money. The Echo Smartpen is one of those innovations.
One of the toughest things about writing your law outlines is writing them. But, if you are like me, then you probably take tons of notes. The problem I had in law school (and still today) is what do I do with all those notes. For the last couple of years I have taken to having one notebook for everything. Then I have pages scanned or transcribed into particular client files. My rationale is that I have everything in one place. I have tried using pen tablets and even the iPad, which I love, but I can never get use to taking notes with these devices. Enter Livescribe’s Echo Smartpen.
The Livescribe Echo Smartpen has been in my arsenal now for a couple of months and I really like using it. I’m using the Echo in my daily law practice. And, after using it I think it has real application in a law school environment.
The only downside is that you have to buy their paper for the pen to work. But, that is a small price to pay for the advantages.
One of the cool features is that this pen will record audio while taking notes and actually syncs the audio with the exact spots of my handwritten notes. This has proven to be very valuable. A note of caution here is that I always ask permission to record conversations during meetings. This has been helpful with client meetings. Sometimes I miss something and with the audio recording I can go back and edit my notes. It also saved me one time when an adversary was not completely truthful and I had the audio to prove it.
Most law professors will not let you record their lectures, but the notes you take are yours. Even if the other party does not allow me to record our conversation I still have notes that can be quickly downloaded, categorized, and indexed. And, that is the greatest feature and what I see as a huge advantage when putting together your law outlines.
Once you download notes to your computer they are converted into what they call Pencasts. It is kinda fun to watch a Pencast because it shows me taking notes with full audio. But, what I think is fantastic is that I can search with the Livescribe software for any keyword and it instantly finds all my notes with that keyword. This feature has been extremely handy weeks after a meeting when trying to remember who said what.
I have also been using an app called Evernote and recently upgraded to their Premium service. What is great is that Livescribe Echo Smartpen will upload my notes either from my desktop or from the paper. I know this sounds crazy, but you can basically send your notes to an app like Evernote or even email a colleague the notes you just took. Now, when I first heard this I thought the pen did this with wifi, but in reality the sending is done the next time you sync the pen. This is still a cool feature and saves me from having to remember to send my notes to somebody or upload to Evernote – the Livesribe software does it for me.
I mentioned earlier that the one downside is that you must use Livescribe paper. The paper is kinda like a gps for the pen. There are tiny dots on the paper that allow the pen to know exactly where it is on the paper. When you buy one of their notebooks they are numbered 1 through 8, which is part of how Livescribe categorizes your notes. I have continued my practice of having one notebook and then with the desktop software moving the Pencasts to the appropriate client file. I have a couple of really big clients and they each have their own notebook number.
If I need my notes transcribed, then there is a paid app for that called MyScript for Livescribe. I have not tried it yet, but I can see where I might need it someday. For law school outlines it is probably a must, and will allow you to instantly create class outlines.
For law school, you should use one notebook for each class: Notebook 1 for Civil Procedure, Notebook 2 for Property, etc… In law school, I had a separate notebook anyway for each class. The advantage is that all you notes will be automatically categorized and indexed. Then with the transcription app your law outlines will write themselves every time you sync the Smartpen.
The Livescribe Echo Smartpen has changed the way I take notes by not changing anything. I still take notes like I always have. The difference is that they are now categorized and indexed automatically and I have the audio to fill in the blanks.