While we owe smart phones a debt of gratitude for familiarizing us all with the epic, ongoing avian/swine battle (now with an Easter edition!), there are also a myriad of applications that can increase productivity and efficiency for lawyers. Taking a break from our traditional blog roll, in this week’s Sociable Lawyer Roundup, we give you our top 10 smart phone applications for the legal profession.
Whether you’re an L1 student or seasoned attorney, chances are that you’re rocking an iPhone (fingers crossed for iPhone 5) or you pledge allegiance to the Android army. Useful attorney mobile apps for these phones range from apps that cover legal reference material to document management suites to simple apps that act as a clock to track your billable hours. When enhanced with relevant and powerful mobile applications, you can use your smart phone to untether yourself from your real-world desk. Now you can work anywhere, the bus, the beach, waiting in line at the DMV…the options are endless! Of course, just because you can doesn’t mean you should…but that’s another topic entirely.
You’ll find a combination of iOS and Android based mobile apps below, complete with a brief review and their respective Market link for downloading. Have a legal app that you couldn’t live without? Tweet at us (@sociablelawyer) on that smart phone of yours and let us know!
Price: Free, Platform: iOS, Requires: iOS 3.1 or later, Purchase Link: iOS Market
Fastcase for iPhone is a mobile law library that allows its users to search cases and statutes from all fifty states, federal government included. Smart search technology pulls the most relevant cases to the top of your search query, in addition to other customizable features that help filter search results. Libraries are searchable by keyword (or Boolean search), natural language search or citation lookup. While the application itself is free, account registration is necessary in order to enable certain features like document saving or search history. More than 400,000 lawyers have access to Fastcase’s desktop application while 18 state bar associations have purchased subscriptions for their members, making it a trusted research service within the legal profession.
Price: Free, Platform: Android, Requires: Android version 2.0.1 and up, Purchase Link: Android Market
DroidLaw is a legal reference mobile application that includes the following in its base application: the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence., the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. Additional reference materials, such as the United States code or U.S. Constitution add-on, are available in the Android market for a fee. As of March ’11, 31 state codes in their entirety are available for purchase as add-ons in the Android Market, with a promise by the developer to bring all fifty state codes by year’s end.
TimeClock – Time Tracker
Price: $3.99, Platform: Android, Requires: Android version 1.5 and up, Purchase Link: Android Market
An aptly titled application, TimeClock helps legal professionals track the start and end time of a task while on the go. Simply set your hourly rate per client and this app calculates your total earnings at the end of your work. Once these billable hours are tracked, you can export the data or transfer it into a spreadsheet to create your invoices. Each time record allows you to store client or job information, notes, and a secondary data field you can use to note location, case, category or whatever marker you deem fit. All time records are accessible within the app and can also be edited with ease.
PocketJustice ‘brings the U.S. Supreme Court down to earth’ and into the palm of your hands. This mobile app offers case information and audio on constitutional law cases from the Supreme Court canon. While the free version contains information for the top 100 constitutional law cases, the premium version for $4.99 affords users access to all 600+ cases. In many cases, PocketJustice even offers synchronized and searchable transcripts pulled from the Court’s public proceedings. Curious as to what expertise Justice Sonia Sotomayor is bringing to the bench? PocketJustice has you covered there, too. Users can view voting alignments and biographies of all 110 justices within the app. Additionally, the new ‘share’ function allows you to send noteworthy cases out via email, Facebook and Twitter.
Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Edition
Price: $54.99, Platform: iOS (coming soon to Android), Requires: iOS 3.1 or later, Purchase Link: iOS Market
Regarded as the most widely cited law book in the world, Black’s Law Dictionary mobile app for iPhone brings over 45,000 terms (with spelling pronunciations for over 7,000) and nearly 3,000 quotations directly to your handheld. With real time and progressive look up search features, this mobile app is the legal dictionary for today’s law students and lawyers alike. Integrate with your WestLaw log-in for full access to hyper-link cross references (will pull up and redirect to your mobile browser). You’ve used the dictionary. You know the benefits. Now experience it all at the touch of your fingertips, anytime and anywhere. With an application for Android coming soon, Black’s Law Dictionary mobile app is a luxury given the price but a necessity given the value.
Cam Scanner – Phone PDF Creator
Very rarely do you see a lawyer lugging a portable scanner alongside their laptop, tablet, briefcase and latte. If you find yourself in need of a PDF image in a pinch, perhaps while meeting a client at your local Starbucks (no brick and mortar office for you!), Cam Scanner turns your phone into a document scanner using the built in camera. Simply snap a picture of the paper document, receipt, agreement or even whiteboard discussion and you will get the cropped and enhanced scanned image from the app. Once converted to a PDF, you have the option of tagging, storing or even uploading your documents into your cloud server to share with others.
Price: Free, Platform: Android, Requires: Android version 1.6 and up, Purchase Link: Android Market
An RSS reader customized for your mobile device, Google Reader aggregates the feeds from your favorite sites into one convenient mobile app. Avid reader of Above the Law blog? Big on Big Legal Brain, perhaps? Not only does the Google Reader app make it a cinch to add your favorite blogs or websites, it also syncs with the web version you may already have fully loaded with your preferences. A key feature is that this mobile app supports offline reading; download everything via Wifi and you’ll never be stuck underground on the tunnel again without the comfort of Lawyerist in your palm (only one week left to enter that Fujitsu ScanSnap s1300 giveaway!). With features like the ability to track keywords and searches across various news and search sites and the option to ‘share’ anything across your various social networks, Google Reader is one of the most comprehensive feed apps on the market.
25 million users across 175 countries cannot be wrong. Dropbox has long been the go to application for mobile storage management. Any file you save to your Dropbox, whether its photos, docs or videos, will automatically save to your computer, Android or iPhone device, and even your Dropbox website account. You can easily transfer email attachments straight from your inbox into your Dropbox and even upload multiple files in batches. Never worry about accidentally misplacing a document or leaving behind that contract at the café; Dropbox affords you the mobility, privacy and security needed to keep you on the go. Now also available in French, Japanese, German and Spanish editions, Dropbox is a must have document management and file transfer application.
Over 125 million devices worldwide run LogMeIn service to provide comprehensive personal and business remote access. From the palm of your hand, you can remotely control your PC or Mac directly from your smart phone as if you were standing right in front of it. From this single app you can view, transfer and save files or folders between all your devices with a simple click. You can also remotely run any business application you have installed on your computer from your smart phone. With LogMeIn Ignition, the contents of your desktop are always with you. Installation is simple enough, as well. Purchase the mobile app from your phone’s respective market, create an online account with LogMeIn Ignition, install the software on your computer and you’re ready to go mobile. For those of you who view ‘9 to 5’ as merely a classic Dolly Parton track, this mobile application is the definition of untethered.
QuickOffice Pro (Android) | QuickOffice Connect Mobile Suite (iOS)
Considered a global leader in mobile productivity solutions (with numerous accolades to prove it), QuickOffice brings your Microsoft Office productivity suite straight to your phone. You can create, view and edit any Microsoft Office file such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or Powerpoint presentations. Coupled with integrated cloud access to such services like Google Docs or DropBox (we told you this app was big!), not only can you access stored files but now you can also make those last minute revisions before your presentation or meeting. With a plethora of updates brought in with updated versions 4.0 for Android and 3.3.0 for iOS, such as clipboard access, voice input dictation, undo/redo prompts and the option to save to your SD card, QuickOffice truly does take your mobile productivity to the next level.