Brainstorming, Tablet Style: An Excerpt from “iPad in One Hour for Lawyers, Second Edition”

Adapted and excerpted from Tom Mighell’s iPad in One Hour for Lawyers, Second Edition, now available from LPM Publishing.

Lawyers do a lot of brainstorming—strategizing on trial tactics, laying out an action plan for an upcoming transaction, or just developing a business plan for a law practice. In recent years mind-mapping software has become a popular way of facilitating the brainstorming process. Mind map is defined by Wikipedia as “a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items, and arranged around a central key word or idea.” The iPad has a few good mind-mapping apps available, and in this lesson we’ll discuss two of them.

MindMeister  is a tool I have used on my computer in the past, and I like it quite a bit. It’s an offshoot of the mindmapping website, but you don’t have to have an account there to use the app. Just click the + sign on the Maps screen to start a new map.

Click the + sign in the upper-right corner to create a new “node,” or box that forms part of the map. The keyboard pops up automatically so you can enter text into the node. In the upper-right corner you can also access a number of great formatting options by tapping on the paintbrush icon; you can format the text size and color, change the box shape and color, insert icons, or change the theme of your map.

Once you’re done with your map, you can share it in one of several ways. By choosing the Share this map option (press the button to get there), you can provide others with a link to the map on the Mind- Meister site. When you press Export, you can email the mind map in a number of formats—PDF, PNG, RTF, MindMeister, Freemind, Mind-Manager, Word, or PowerPoint.

A more powerful mind-mapping app is iThoughts HD , which has some really great features. First, navigation buttons at the top of the screen help you add new nodes to the map. The formatting features are similar, but it’s in the saving and exporting of maps where iThoughts really excels. You can send the map by email or Wi-Fi transfer to the camera roll on your iPad, or to a cloud-based service like Dropbox, Box, or a WebDAV server. And there are currently seventeen file formats from which to choose, although most of the formats are handled by different types of proprietary mind-mapping software.

If you like to brainstorm and never had luck in writing down your ideas, give mind mapping a try. The apps mentioned here, as well as others in the iPad App Store, will make your next brainstorming activity a more pleasurable, or at least more interesting, experience.

For more iPad lessons from Tom Mighell, pick up a copy of iPad in One Hour for Lawyers, Second Edition, now available from LPM Publishing.

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