Maybe you already have an iPad, or maybe you’re planning to get one in the near future. Either way, you probably want to know the best way to put your new tool to use in your practice. After all, an iPad is only as good as its apps. With that in mind, here is a list of what I consider to be the most essential free iPad apps for lawyers:
1. Dragon Dictation
If you’ve dreamt of having an app that will convert your dictation into print, Dragon Dictation is for you. The app uses voice recognition software to convert dictated notes to text. In fact, if you’re daring enough, Dragon Dictation will even integrate with Facebook and Twitter so you can easily dictate status updates. It is surprisingly accurate too (although I recommend carefully reviewing these before making them public).
Fastcase is a powerful legal research tool providing access to a free law library incorporating case law for all 50 states and access to statutes for most states and the federal government. There are some holes in the offerings including only access to select codes and regulations (and no access at all to statutes for Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Ohio, and Pennsylvania). Nonetheless, unlike Westlaw or Lexis, access to the Fastcase law library from the iPad app is completely free.
3. Westlaw Next
If your office uses West for legal research, then this app is essential. It creates an iPad-friendly interface for Westlaw Next allowing you to perform all of your legal research on the go. The Westlaw Next app automatically syncs with the Westlaw Next website so you can begin your research on your iPad and later complete your research at the office. The app also incorporates KeyCite, Folders and allows you to access your search history.
4. Lexis Advance HD
I should preface this one by noting that Lexis Advance HD is still a new app with some major bugs for the Lexis team to figure out. Still, if your office uses Lexis for legal research, you’ll want to download this app for your iPad. Like the Westlaw Next app, it allows you to perform legal research on the go. You can use Instant Search to run a search without having to select a specific source, Shephardize case law, and use Work Folders to synchronize your search results to view them on your work computer.
As I recently discussed in my post about using Evernote to improve your practice, Evernote is absolutely essential for lawyers on the go. I use Evernote for nearly everything. Evernote allows you to store your case files in the cloud and easily search those files from any location. Evernote also allows you to create and format documents. Evernote allows you record dictated messages. Best of all, the app and the basic account are free. I honestly believe this is the best app you’ll download for your iPad. Paired with the Penultimate app ($0.99) you can even take handwritten notes on your iPad and save them to Evernote – effectively replacing your yellow legal pad.
6. Adobe Reader
Odds are you deal with PDFs everyday in your practice. Whether it is notices, pleadings, motions or giant discovery productions, you’ll want a smooth and easy way to view your PDFs on your iPad. Adobe Reader app doesn’t offer much in terms of functionality and editing, but it does allow you to easily view and read PDF files on your iPad.
I’ll presume you are already promoting your practice and engaging with colleagues and clients on Twitter. You should be. The Twitter app is a fantastic way to navigate Twitter on your iPad. In fact, in my opinion, the Twitter iPad app offers a better user experience that their regular website. The Twitter app allows you to easily switch between multiple accounts, tweet on the go, and creates an easy to read conversation view of your direct messages with other users.
This is an essential app for the attorney blogger on the go. It can be a frustrating experience trying to create and edit posts from the regular WordPress.org web dashboard from your iPad. The iPad app mostly solves that problem by creating an easy to use interface that allows you to moderate comments, create or edit posts and easily add images and videos to posts on your iPad.