Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Law librarian ranks top 10 iPhone apps for law students

I realize that I am a latecomer to this craze. Like most Apple products, I was content to admire from afar. However, this past July, I decided to join the ranks of the uber-cool and purchase myself the geek's most powerful tool in the arsenal of geekdom: the iPhone.

It did not take me long to discover the amazing functionality of this incredible piece of equipment. When they say, "There's an app for that," they aren't kidding! There are apps for virtually everyone, covering almost every interest! The legal community is definitely no exception.

So, being the blogging librarian that I am, I have decided to share with you 10 of the coolest apps applicable to the lawyer and law student. Some of these might also be available on Blackberry or other devices, whatever they may be.

  1. QuickOffice. This app actually allows you to edit Word and Spreadsheet documents. Honestly, I mostly use this app as an easy way to transfer documents to and from my iPhone, and to view them on the iPhone.
  2. Any of the Cliff Maier reference apps. These apps are designed for legal reference and include the following:

    • Constitution
    • Federal Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil and Criminal Procedure
    • Federal Rules of Evidence
    • Intellectual Property Laws
    • State Evidence Rules for various states (not Kansas).

    Price ranges from $0.99 to $7.99. Each app offers the ability to jump to a section or to search. There is cut-and-paste (for iPhone 3GS), as well as linking. The cool thing is when you are done looking at your link, you can go back to the app and it will still be where you left off.
  3. Black's Law Dictionary is now available for the iPhone. This is Thomson Reuters' first venture into app-dom, and I hope it's not their last. You find terms in the app by typing into a search bar. Results appear as you begin to type, so you don't even need to finish typing to find what you need. There is an audio button which, when tapped, will pronounce the word for you. Slick! It runs $50, which is a little pricey for an app. It does work really well, though. And it IS cheaper than the hard copy.
  4. Law in a Flash – iPhone Law School Flashcards. You know the product, right? Little flash cards with humorous scenarios on Criminal Procedure, Torts, Corporations, Criminal Law, Federal Income Tax, Professional Responsibility and Wills & Trusts. This is a great resource for law students on the go needing to study as much as they can for exams and/or the bar exam. The application allows users to take notes within the program, bookmark cards and put cards into shuffle mode for quick study. The cards are modeled after the multi-state bar exam. Each subject is $39.99.
  5. Law Pod Foundation provides some legal reference apps not unlike Cliff Maier. There's not as much there, but at 99 cents per app, it's well worth a look. Includes Federal Rules of Civil, Criminal, Appellate and Bankruptcy Procedure as well as the Constitution. Each one is searchable. There is also an app called Title 35 that gives you similar access to the patent-relevant parts of the United States Code for $2.99.
  6. The Legal News Reader app, which costs 99 cents, conveniently aggregates all recent legal news in one place, for those not interested in the time it takes to search for it on their own.
  7. DocScanner, available for $8.99, is another great app for lawyers. With this app you can scan a document to your iPhone by taking a photo of it. It is then converted to a .pdf file that can either be e-mailed or saved to your phone.
  8. Amazon Kindle is a great, free app for long, unexpected delays in court. You can download books, some for free, directly to your iPhone and peruse them in an easy-to-read format at your leisure.
  9. Law School 100 is an iPhone app that ranks 100 law schools in the United States and provides capsule profiles of each school. It's produced by LawTV Inc., the publisher of The Law School 100.
  10. TimeWerks. Sure, you thought that the iPhone meant you were a free-wheeling, outside-the-box kind of lawyer. But nobody escapes death, taxes and, if you're a law firm attorney, billable hours. While no programs that I'm aware of can seamlessly sync with firm billing apps, it's a step up from filling out paper billable sheets while you're out of the office. TimeWerks, $9.99, will track your projects and time spent in a way that, while not strictly built for lawyers, is user-friendly and versatile, and lets you export a .csv file that may streamline getting the data to your main billing program. A lite version does exist for free if you just want to try things out.
As you can imagine, there are tons more out there. Do you know of any? I would love to check them out! Just shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment.

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