Free Software for Trial Lawyers

On a budget?   Here are some software programs that will help you prepare for your next jury trialand won’t break the bank.  Most of these programs work on a variety of platforms, but since I’m a Mac guy, one or two of them might be Mac-only.

IMAGE EDITING PROGRAMS

GIMP: www.gimp.org
Need to crop photos, modify images, or enhance images for trial?  This is a cheap (free) alternative to Adobe Photoshop.   It includes a wide variety of image editing tools.   It’s not easy to get started, but it’s a powerful resource.

Seashore: www.seashore.sourceforge.net
A simple image editing program that’s easier to use than GIMP.

Inkscape: www.inkscape.org
This is an illustration program (similar to Adobe Illustrator) that lets you create vector drawings and illustrations. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the professional program, but it lets you create amazing artwork.

Hugin: www.hugin.sourceforge.net
If you’re trying to take photos of a large, panoramic area, you usually can’t fit the entire scene into a single photo (at least not without a thousand dollar camera lens).  Hugin solves that problem by letting you stitch 2+ photos together into a panoramic view.

AUDIO EDITING PROGRAMS

Audacity: www.audacity.sourceforge.net
If your evidence includes audio recordings of depositions, interviews, or police interrogations, Audacity is an invaluable tool.  With this program, you’ll be able to edit audio recordings, extract smaller portions from extended interviews, and perform other audio editing functions. 

3D MODELS / CRIME SCENE MODELING

Sketchup: sketchup.google.com
Create 3D and 2D models, apply textures, and voila! you’ve created an interactive model of the crime scene!

Sweet Home 3d: www.sweethome3d.eu
Need to layout a residential crime scene or a slip & fall scenario? Sweet Home 3d can render home layouts, furnishings, and create floorplans.

OFFICE SUITE PROGRAMS

Scribus: www.scribus.net
This program is great for producing flyers, brochures, newsletters, etc.   You can use it to create posters or enlargements for use in direct examination or closing argument.

OpenOffice: www.openoffice.org
Can’t afford (or don’t trust) Microsoft Office? OpenOffice includes a full office suite programs.   You’ll get a word processor, spreadsheet, database, graphics, and presentation programs. 

Google Docs: docs.google.com
Create and edit web-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.  
The documents are stored online, so multiple parties can modify them at once (beware of attorney-client privilege violations).

AbiWord: www.abisource.com
This word processing program is similar to Microsoft Word.

PRODUCTIVITY PROGRAMS

Evernote: www.evernote.com
This program works on your computer, iPhone, PDA, etc.  You can synchronize your notes everywhere at once.  It’s invaluable for jotting down notes, websites, and more.

Freemind: www.freemind.sourceforge.net
Need to brainstorm new cross-examination questions?  Trying to organize your direct-examination, but not sure which topics you should address or which order you should present them in?  Freemind is a mind-mapping program.  If you’ve never used a mind-map before, it might take a little getting accustomed to, but it will make it much easier for you to get those brilliant ideas out of your head and onto paper.

TimeBridge: www.TimeBridge.com
If you’ve ever tried to schedule a meeting with several busy people, you know how difficult it can be to find a time that works for everyone.  This online meeting scheduler allows all of the invitees to choose a preferred meeting slot, then it finds tha day and time that work the best for everyone.

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