Tech-savvy attorneys know that if they want to track billable hours, share documents or encrypt files, there’s probably an app for that.
But how do you know if the app is any good?
Kris Turner, a reference and technical services librarian with the University of Wisconsin Law School, recommended sticking with apps with “an intuitive interface.”
“Attorneys need to be able to find what they’re looking for right away,” he said. “You open up an app and you don’t want to be confused and flummoxed.”
Jenny Zook, a reference and instructional services librarian who works with Turner to update the school’s ever-evolving online database of apps for attorneys, favors apps with flexibility. So, if she can’t share documents, access the Cloud or work across platforms, an app isn’t likely to impress.
But what really matters is whether an app can help an attorney get the job done, which is why Zook and Turner have developed app databases on topics including legal research, jury selection, encryption and productivity.
Here are 20 standouts for 2014:
Boomerang: This email app allows users to switch between three accounts, with access to the Cloud and the ability to schedule emails to be sent later. For now, it integrates only with Gmail, Google Apps and Microsoft Exchange accounts, although the developer promises other services will be included soon.
Picture It Settled Lite: Track negotiations by following the money and time between offers, then use that history to predict a deal.
Smart AppLock: This security app, formerly known as Smart App Protector, provides password protection for any other Android app. An encryption function also puts your device into a fake shutdown mode — a lockout screen appears — if someone tries to crack your password.
COST: Free, with option for in-app purchases
DictaDroid: Dictate notes, meetings and other audio, then share them via email, Google Drive or Dropbox with this encrypted voice recording app. Then, use the companion app Quicktate to have your recordings transcribed.
SignMyPad: Going paperless just got easier. Instead of printing documents, bring up a PDF on your phone or tablet via email or Dropbox, then sign the screen. Stylus optional.
TimeClock Pro – Time Tracker: Track billable hours and expenses, then generate spreadsheets and invoices, or send the data to Google Drive or Dropbox.
eDepoze: This app condenses piles of papers into a digital format, then allows users to introduce, mark and share those electronic documents as exhibits in depositions – all in real time.
Fastcase: Winner of the American Association of Law Libraries New Product of the Year Award, this searchable database of American laws and cases is updated daily. Registration is required to customize searches and save favorites.
COST: Free for Wisconsin Bar members
SlideShark: Upload and share PowerPoint presentations on iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch with this app. Includes 50 MB of free online storage (with the option to buy or earn more), offline access (no Internet required), and iPhone remote control and laser pointer capabilities when you project a presentation from your iPad.
COST: Free version is limited to 100 slides per presentation
Microsoft Word for iPad: If Microsoft Word is more your speed, you can finally access it on your tablet. Released in April, this app allows users to read and print documents for free. Get an Office 365 subscription to create, edit and print documents.
COST: Free for read-only, from $69.99 a year for annual Office 365 subscription
Pages: Considered by many to be as close a comparison as you can get to Microsoft Word in the Apple platform, this word processing app allows users to create, edit and share documents. It’s compatible with Microsoft Word 2013 documents. And it’s available for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.
Numbers: This spreadsheet app was designed exclusively for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. It’s compatible with Microsoft Excel 2013 files. Spreadsheets can be password-protected via iCloud. Users can share files with or without the option to edit.
Keynote: Create presentations with interactive charts, pictures and video, or access actual PowerPoint presentations, on your phone or tablet with this Microsoft PowerPoint-type app. An iCloud interface allows collaborations with up to 100 people simultaneously and password protection.
Time Master + Billing: Track time and expenses, calculate taxes and generate reports. An in-app upgrade allows users to export the data to QuickBooks.
eDiscovery Assistant: Access electronic discovery from any location. The app also includes digests, sample checklists, templates and access to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
COST: $29.99 plus subscription
ANDROID & APPLE
Dropbox: This storage app allows users to access, edit and share files, photos and video. Anything saved in the app automatically saves to your computers, smartphone and the Dropbox website.
Evernote: A mainstay on Top 10 lists, this app allows users to keep notes, but also sync those notes across devices, share files, take photos and add handwritten notes or sketches. Many users like the combination of business-friendly functionality and real world practicality, since Evernote also can track receipts and keep grocery lists.
Word Lens: This translator app promises to let you see the world in your language. Simply hold your smartphone or tablet camera up to a sign or printed text document, then get the translation on your screen. Available in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish
COST: Free, with option for in-app purchases
WestlawNext: This case research app allows users to find cases on the go, make notes and highlight documents, then email the document or selected passages.
COST: Free app, but requires firm subscription. Price varies based on firm size.
iJuror: Create seating charts for up to 60 jurors, track demographics and log voir dire questions and answers, then share them with colleagues via email, or drag and drop to dismiss or select jurors.
COST: $9.99 Android, $19.99 Apple
Want to learn more about apps and earn CLE credit? Check out Apps for Lawyers, a one-hour workshop exploring Android- and Apple-based mobile tools for productivity, legal research and litigation.
When: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Aug. 7
Where: Wisconsin State Law Library training room, 120 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Madison
More info: Registration is limited to 25.
For more information, CLICK HERE.