Achieve Perfect Recall: Evernote for Current Awareness

assorted books on shelf

You remember seeing an article that would be a great reference for your client. You try to recall where it was – maybe the Wall Street Journal last week? Did you see it referenced in an email? Social media? Lawyers are bombarded with information all day every day from many sources. In order to accurately recall what you saw (and where) you need to set up a system to capture and keep the content, and then organize it to get back to it quickly. Evernote is one way to achieve all that and more.

There are several products and tools on the market that can help you capture and recall current awareness and legal/business research results, including MS OneNote, Pocket, Google Keep, and others.  Evernote is both a note-taking app and a great clipping tool. It is so multi-functional that there is even a book about how to use it to organize your law practice. For capturing and keeping articles and resources it is easy to use, ubiquitous and free or low cost.

Evernote Plans and Pricing

Evernote has a free plan that lets you capture screenshots, record audio notes, and attach files to notes. From the web, you can clip full pages, images, and text from any website. It is a great way to get a sense of what Evernote can do and if it fits into your workflow. The Premium Plan is $8 a month and gives you more options to save content, like emailing content straight into Evernote, and more collaboration features, like sharing notebooks. The Business version requires at least 2 users and offers integration with business tools like Microsoft Teams, virtual bulletin boards, Single Sign-On and more.

Get the Apps and Clipper

Evernote is everywhere you need it to be. There is a desktop application you can download on Windows or for Mac which synchronizes with Evernote in the cloud accessible through any web browser. There are mobile apps for your Android or iPhone/iPad.  There is a web clipper for all browsers. And an entire App Center for add-ons and integrations. To be prepared to capture anything you should get the web clipper for your browser and the app for your phone or tablet (or both).

Organizational Options

Evernote has two primary ways to organize content – Folders, Stacks and/or Tags. Stacks are essentially folders with sub-folders. Tags are subjects. As you save information you can put it in specific folders or subfolders. However, since much of the content you save may have multiple subjects, you can use tags instead. For instance, create a default folder called Research. When you add content apply as many tags as you want.  Once you’ve created a tag when you begin to type it in a drop-down menu appears so you can select from your tag list and you are less likely to create redundant and duplicative tags. For instance, you can tag a single article with multiple tags: “social media” “marketing” “ethics”.

See Content, Save Content

Once you have the apps and the web clipper and have determined what organizational structure you want to use you can start saving content!  Using the web clipper in the browser you can choose to clip the full text of an article, the full page, a screenshot or just “bookmark” or capture the link to the page. If you clip the Bookmark the clipper will automatically add the page title. Then you can choose which notebook to save the clip to and add tags and remarks. If you get the Premium plan you also get a dedicated Evernote email address and you can forward emails to Evernote. If you open a PDF in your browser you can save it to  Evernote.

On your smartphone, you can send articles to Evernote. From the mobile browser, you can send the article to Evernote using the same options you would use to send it to text or email. Or open the Evernote app on your phone, click the + sign and capture a document with the camera to scan it or add an audio note. You can also capture a screenshot and send it to Evernote.

Searching and Finding Notes

You can browse content in folders. They are organized by date of capture or creation, most recent first. You can re-sort by other criteria. You can also browse your notes by tag and re-sort the notes by various criteria. You can search across all notebooks or specific notebooks. You can also search for a note tagged with a specific tag in a specific notebook. Just choose the notebook or notebooks you want to search and then type in tag:”tag name” and your search terms. For instance: tag:”future” artificial intelligence. You can also create saved searches.

Conclusion

In the past lawyers printed or copied useful articles and put them in folders. They may have subscribed to clipping services or were on circulation lists for periodicals. Now, with Evernote any lawyer can save, categorize, annotate, and search useful content and get back to it quickly. For a tutorial and overview of Evernote and OneNote see this video from the Chicago Bar Association How To.. library.