Whether it’s on-the-go legal research, checking and ticking off tasks, reviewing transcripts, creating depositions or selecting jury panels, the world of apps has opened up to the legal profession and there are more and more each year (or week!). If you’re keen for some flexibility and mobility in your legal life, then apps are definitely the way forward. As Dennis Kennedy, lawyer and technology expert, has said:

“Mobile apps are especially good for three things: allowing you to perform tasks anywhere and at any time, extending the range of what you can do with computer programs or Web services, and taking advantage of the features of a mobile device (camera, microphone, sensors) to give you new tools right at hand.”

With so many to sample, how do you decide which ones to use for your business? Here’s our quick snapshot of cool apps under $10 so Apple and Android-loving sole practitioners and attorneys can dip their toe into the smart phone and tablet waters without the hefty price tag.

PRODUCTIVITY

1. GoodReader

According to MacWorld, this is the No 1 non-Apple app for Ipads in the USA. With reviews like “magnificent, “killer app” and “the best” (and Mashable describing it as “a Swiss army knife of awesome”), Goodreader is the popular PDF reader, meaning you can read and view practically anything, anywhere from books to movies to pictures as well as mark up PDFs with typewriter text boxes, sticky notes, lines, arrows and freehand drawings. Jeff Richardson (author of the Iphone JD blog) also gives the thumbs up for Goodreader.

“I store key pleadings, briefs, exhibits, et cetera, in a Dropbox folder on my computer and then, with the press of one button in GoodReader on my iPad, they are synced over. This is the most useful app on my iPad.”

Price: $4.99.i

For: Iphone/Ipad/Ipod Touch.

2. Evernote

OK so it’s not an app specifically for lawyers but it deserves a mention for lawyer apps globally purely because of its capacity for its digital note taking, storing and organising functions and accessibility. The beauty of Evernote is that, conveniently, it has an app for every platform (iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry and a web version) and syncs across all your devices seamlessly so you can view your docs, notes and images anywhere, anytime.

Price: Free but to access PIN security, more storage space and other features, you can sign up for the premium version ($5 monthly).
For: Android/Iphone/Ipad/Blackberry/Windows.

3. Documents To Go

An app that scores another high five from Jeff Richardson is Documents to Go which allows you to review a Microsoft Word document on your Iphone or Ipad and deal with footnote:

“Documents to Go also shows red-line edits and is rock-solid, unlike some other apps that handle Word files. I love the way that the app lets you zoom the text and reformats the line wraps, thus making it the best app for reading the words in a Word file.”

Price: $9.99.

For: Iphone/Ipad/Ipod Touch/Android.

4. Dragon Dictation

A real time saver for sole practitioners AKA Dennis Denuto and small firms, Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application powered by Dragon NaturallySpeaking that allows you to easily speak and then instantly see your text or email messages. It may not be a substitute for your virtual assistant or secretary but it’s a great place to start to cut down on typing and document creation time. Android devotees should check out the Droid Lawyers’ recommendations on this front (think Dictadroid and Google Now). Also, check out BigHand mobile dictation app (you’ll need a BigHand account) – they’re doing great products in the workflow, speech recognition and voice recording space!

Price: Free.

For: Iphone/Ipad/Ipod Touch.

Apps let you practice law on the go.

Apps let you practice law on the go.

TRIAL AND PRE-TRIAL

5. Mobile Transcript

Busy, hotshot lawyers can review and annotate deposition files or court transcript files, and it’s specifically formatted for an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, and Android smartphones. You annotate the transcript by highlighting important points of testimony, then email a log of your highlights, in page and line number format, or email the entire highlighted transcript in PDF to colleagues, witnesses or assistants working on your case.

Price: Free.

For: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Android.

6. Depose

This clever app makes case preparation a dream as it allows you to take depositions easily on your smartphone or tablet. For Droids in suits, resident expert, Jeff Taylor, loves this one:

“This app gives attorneys the ability to prepare for and take depositions using their Android device. The app gives users the ability to directly enter the questions or upload them in plain text. Users can attach exhibits to the question; then you’ll only need one copy for the witness. The developer is eager to improve the app too, adding functionality and beefing up the user interface.”

Note: this one is great for Aussie lawyers too.

Price: $7.70

For: Android.

7. iPleading Editors note : iPleading is no longer available

One of the first mobile litigation template generators, this app was created by lawyer, Adam D. Brumm (and Esq apps) for lawyers to design and generate quick PDF pleadings, ready for filing. A great one for US litigators, the app is simple to use, with the end product able to be sent to any email address.

Price: Free.

For: Iphone/Ipad/Ipod Touch/Android.

8. TrialDirector

TrialDirector for iPad is a simple, easy to use evidence management and presentation tool where you can create a case folder, add exhibits to your case through Dropbox or iTunes and interact with your evidence using the annotation and presentation tools.

Price: Free.

For: Ipad.

LEGAL RESEARCH

9. AustLII

Australian lawyers, fear not: you’re not forgotten in the app scene although there’s definitely room for more Aussie apps! AustLII is Australia’s most popular online free-access resource for legal information and this app puts it right at your fingertips. You can browse Commonwealth and state and territory-based legislation from your smartphone and review cases from over 140 courts, tribunals and boards.

Price: Free.

For: Iphone/Ipod Touch/Ipad/Android.

10.  Fastcase

Research on the run has never been easier. Launching its first research app in 2010, Fastcase is a comprehensive legal reference guide for US attorneys offering access to cases and statutes from all 50 states as well as the federal government. Fastcase users can search by citation, keyword (in Boolean or natural language) or browse entire statute collections. And with customizable, sortable search results, what’s not to like? Plus it’s free.

“In my opinion, every attorney should have this app on his or her mobile device. . . . With this app, it is quick and easy to do legal research on the road. And at a cost of zero, you can’t beat the price.” (Bob Ambrogi, Law Sites Blog)

Price: Free.

For: Iphone/Ipad/Ipod Touch/Android.

11. HeinOnline

Providing access to the world’s largest image-based (PDF format) legal research database, HeinOnline lets iPhone and iPad users access content by citation, browse by volume, navigate a volume via a table of contents, and use full advanced-searching techniques.

Price: Free.

For: Iphone/Ipad.

12. WestlawNext

A companion app to WestlawNext, it is cited as the most advanced research system for attorneys on the go and includes access to features such as WestSearch, KeyCite, folders, history, document notes, and highlighting. You’ll need a WestlawNext account for this one.

Price: Free.

For: Iphone/Ipad/Android.

Witness the explosion of research apps.

Witness the explosion of research apps.

COURTROOMS, WITNESSES AND JURORS

13. Jury Notepad

Quite simply, this particular one is a notepad app designed to help lawyers create, store and  organise notes about jurors during the selection process, like Evernote for jury trials.

Price: $4.99.

For: Iphone/Ipad/Ipod Touch.

14. iTestimony

Created by the developer of the popular iJuror app with more feedback used to create the product, this nifty app tracks witness information before and during trials to save the litigators headaches in that department. Providing a place where you can store all your case and witness information, you can assign avatars to each witness for easier identification, look for patterns over time and share witness information by email.

Price: $9.99.

For: Ipad.

15. JuryTracker

Jury tracking, observation and selection is big business in the US: PS I’ve watched Runaway Jury so I am pretty sure I have my head around it, right? Could John Cusack have played cat and mouse with Gene Hackman with this app in the mix? A jury observation tool, this app stands alone in its category allowing the trial attorney, paralegal, jury consultant or client to identify key jurors, observe and report on juror behaviour effectively (are they smiling, fidgeting, clipping nostril hair?), enhance and simplify note taking and share reports about jurors with your trial team. Using the app, you can record the jurors’ gender, race, age, religion, education level and more.

Price: $4.99.

For: Ipad.

16. Courtroom Objections

A quick guide to making and meeting objections in court, Courtroom Objections provides a list of common objections and related responses. Users can review material by objection category (form of question or admissibility).

Price: $3.79.

For: Iphone/Ipad/Ipod Touch.

So there you have it – only a scratch of he surface really but you get the gist!! The more you can make your life easier with a mobile app, the less stressful your day will be. You might send some emails or check documents on your commute home, leaving more time with your family or you’ll be able to leave the office slightly early and go grab that cocktail or bite to eat with a colleague or friend. For a comprehensive trial lawyers’ guide to apps, check out Bob Ambrogi’s posts in this area – he has done a brilliant wrap up of apps for lawyers wanting a lowdown on all the hot products.

What you want (or need) really depends on your type of practice, clients and work priorities but hopefully this list will kick start the process and stay tuned for more posts!

A FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON LEGAL
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