By Lincoln Mead, Utah State Bar IT Director
There are a number of great apps out there that can streamline your practice and help you catch a couple of extra billing hours a week. (If you do not have a tablet and are thinking of taking the plunge consider this: If you can find an extra 15 minutes of billable time a week using a tablet it will pay for itself inside of a year.) The iPad has the most robust selection of legal specific apps but Android is coming on strong and now, with Microsoft entering the market, you will see a number of legal software vendors releasing their apps for that platform as well. Below is a small selection of Apps that I consider essential tools for attorneys.
What can make a tablet useful is the ability to tie all the data from all your devices together.
DropBox / SpiderOak: Web based data storage apps have been around for a long while but DropBox set a new standard in ease of use and power. Installing this app on all your phones, PCs, laptops and tablets will not only ensure that you have access to all your synched files but can create a great ‘quickie’ disaster recovery service. Spider Oak touts itself and a completely encrypted version of DropBox for those that want to go the extra mile to lock down data. If you are already using Google another related app to explore would be GDrive.
Evernote: The ultimate ‘capture’ app Evernote allows you to grab content from most applications and off of any device and store it for future recovery from the other devices in your arsenal. The tagging feature not only helps you sort the information but helps the app to highlight other associations inside of your archive. A quickie guide I send to attorneys getting started is located at http://www.attorneyatwork.com/getting-started-with-evernote.
Day to day apps for general work.
GoodReader: A file manager that can open a wide variety of file types and has the ability to markup and annotate PDF documents. It can also be plugged into a number of data services such as DropBox , GDrive, and email providing access to all files in your storage system. Currently this app is only available for the iOS devices the developers are considering branching out to the Android and Microsoft world. An Android alternative to consider is ezPDF.
DocumentsToGo: While Microsoft has announced that they will be releasing MS Office apps for both the Android and iOS devices in 2013 DocumentsToGo has been a preferred app for a number of years to access Office documents from mobile devices.
Penultimate: If you are a yellow-pad lawyer looking for an app that comes close to the experience of that venerable tradition consider Penultimate. Currently written for the iOS platform Penultimate was recently acquired by Evernote and an Android product is in the works. If you do not want to wait consider, Quill for Android or Notability for iOS.
AudioNote: A refinement on the traditional note taking app is the ability to record audio as you are writing and have both of them in synch. Written for all platforms, AudioNote allows you to tap on a written note and be taken to the corresponding part of the audio recording. AudioNote is a great tool for client meetings and depositions.
No matter how good the device, there are some niche tools out there to make them better.
Divide: A common question is how to use a personal phone inside of an organization or firm. Divide creates a virtual desktop system that allows an attorney to separate their personal device information from the information services that may be pushed out from the office. An upside to this is that the ‘office environment’ is fully encrypted and does not mingle data or impact the operation of the rest of the device.
Bump: Written for Android, iOS, and PC platforms, Bump allows you to quickly send files between devices just by placing them close together. The PC version also makes it ideal for quickly transferring data from your device to a laptop without hassling with cables. It is also a great tool for sending contacts and your digital business card to others that you meet.
Legal Specific Apps
TrialPad: The gold standard for trial presentation management with a $90 price tag to prove it TrialPad allows an attorney to quickly call up exhibits and mark them up to help get the point across. There are some presentation alternatives out there that support such as Explain Everything and OneNote that can be used to provide a similar presentation experience.
iJuror: A rapid juror data entry tool for voir dire or trial you can select the juror seat to add juror notes. You can also use the drag & drop interface to manage or dismiss jurors and alternates. The system allows for the management of a jury pool of up to 60 candidates. The developer has just release a web based version called iJurorConnect that provides a free 30 trial to see if this technology is a fit for your practice.