There's an App for You
California Lawyer

There's an App for You

September 2013

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The phrase "there's an app for that" may conjure images of restaurant reviews, news articles, and strangely addictive games, but these handy little tools aren't just for playtime. Dozens of apps are designed specifically for attorneys, and others will lend organizational aid to any busy professional. Whether it's a remote desktop login program for sole practitioners on the move, or one that aids trial lawyers performing jury selection, there's an app for every kind of practice.

This poses its own problem, of course: With just short of a million apps available in both Apple's App Store and in Google's Android Marketplace, figuring out which to go with can be daunting. "It's hard to go through an app store and know what is going to be handy to use and what isn't," says Ashley Hallene, a Houston sole practitioner who uses a handful of different apps in her daily practice. Really, the only way to know is to try them out.

She recommends that users keep it simple: Start by looking for apps that focus on one or two key functions. A good rule of thumb, Hallene says, is to ask: Is this something that enhances productivity? What you want is a tool that helps you work more efficiently, eliminating that "dead time" in your routine.

Don't download a lot of apps at once, she cautions. Be discerning about where it is you want to be more efficient, be it in organization, communication, research, or other areas. When you find an app you like, says Hallene, "look at how you can incorporate that into your practice so you have pieces of a system that work together."

Here are a handful that may be useful.

Apps for Lawyers

Cost: $19.99 iPad, $9.99 Android, and $4.99 Windows 8 tablets
One of the most popular apps for the voir dire process, iJuror is a leading asset in jury selection and analysis. Within its customizable layout, users can add information for dozens of potential jurors with the tap of a finger. Juror profiles are easy to set up, and users can create rankings and rate responses to questions. You can exchange the information with colleagues via Bluetooth, sync it to shared devices in real time, and configure the app to match the courtroom setup.

Cost: Limited version free for individuals. Multiple-user plans start at $14.99 a month.
Devices: iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch and Android
This electronic signature app is a time-saving tool from Adobe that electronically converts documents that need to be signed into a PDF file. They can then be emailed to recipients, who can sign them as a Web form using special keystrokes on their computer, a legal and binding form of signature. Karl Kronenberger, of San Francisco-based Kronenberger Rosenfeld, says EchoSign has revolutionized the way his firm receives documents from clients. But traditionalists need not worry: Users who prefer to sign hard copies still have the option to print, hand sign, and fax the forms back, if they prefer. For his part, Kronenberger likes the Web form method. "Sometimes it takes days to get people to sign documents and fax them to us. With EchoSign, documents go out and within minutes I can have them signed by both parties."

Cost: $89.99
Devices: iPhone/iPad/Mac. Not available for Android.
A superior case tool that gets consistently high marks, TrialPad is a trial organization and presen-tation app with rich functionality. During a trial, it enables users to access files, store and play media, and mark up or highlight evidence. TrialPad can import almost any cloud-accessible documents, from email to iTunes. It allows lawyers to classify key or crucial parts of a presentation, and can help organize transcripts and exhibits. This tool set comes at a price, but may be worth the money for litigators who want a leg up.

Cost: $9.99
Devices: iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. Not available for Android.
With this Apple program, users can create and exhibit slide shows รก la Microsoft's original PowerPoint software. "Since I'm in the business of doing trial and mediation presentations, the hands-down favorite for me is now Keynote for iPad," says user Morgan C. Smith, founder and president of Oakland's Cogent Legal. The simple interface makes it easy to create, organize, and even animate slides for a sleek, professional presentation, and Smith notes that Keynote "works beautifully with multimedia videos and images." A separate app called Keynote Remote allows users to control a presentation stored on one device, such as a desktop, with another, like an iPhone or iPod Touch. Smith uses both versions: "I can control Keynote on the laptop and see the presenter notes on the iPhone." Apple says Keynote will soon sync to the cloud, letting users access their presentations online from any computer through an Apple account.

Personal Productivity

Cost: $4.99
Devices: iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. Not available for Android.
This robust PDF reader, file organizer, and sync tool packs a ton of versatility into a single app. GoodReader merges the file management, editing, and sharing processes, so you can mark up a case, convert the files, and share them wirelessly - to an FTP server, your DropBox account, or to GoogleDocs for offline viewing. One ardent fan is Jeff Richardson, a New Orleans-based attorney with Adams and Reese who handles class action suits and appellate litigation. "I use GoodReader to store pleadings, exhibits, and other documents for my cases so that I have the documents at my fingertips all the time," says Richardson, who also reviews apps for Mac devices on his website But GoodReader isn't yet available for non-Apple devices, and designers say its iOS infrastructure can't be adapted for the Android market.

Dragon Dictation
Cost: Free
Devices: iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch and Android
For taking audio notes on the go, Dragon Dictation is great to have. It transcribes voice commands and renders text with a high degree of accuracy. (To make corrections, users simply tap a finger on a word on the touch screen.) The app also has communication and social media features, allowing you to compose emails or text messages through voice-only commands. The voice-command technology does have some flaws, but then again, it's free!

Cost: Free; a pro version is $69.95 per year or $14.99 per month per year.
Devices: iPhone/iPad and Android
It happens all the time: You're out at a meeting and the one file you need is sitting on your hard drive back at the office. But with LogMeIn (the PC version is called LogMeIn Ignition) tech-savvy attorneys can get access to their files remotely from anywhere. Hallene says she frequently uses this app when she's traveling or working from home. "If I need to send myself a file that I don't have access to, as long as I have the Internet set up ... it works. I can quickly get in and out."

A Few Other Gems

Another versatile electronic note-taking and annotation tool for transcripts, it helps cut down the paper trail cluttering up your office and briefcase. ($89.99)

Lets you snap a photo and instantly turn the picture of a document into an editable PDF file. ($1.99)

With this handy little networking program, users can convert a photo of a business card into a digital phone or email contact. (Free)

This app gives anyone with a digital Westlaw subscription instant access to enormous volumes of legal research and information. (Free)

Helps you track what you do for clients, manage projects, issue invoices, and account for billable hours. ($1.99)

Kerri Connolly is a freelance journalist based in Oakland.

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