By com bbutula dkattorneys Bev Butula
, manager of library services, Davis & Kuelthau
July 7, 2010 – The introduction of iPhones, the Blackberry, the Droid, and recently the iPad has revolutionized the way we conduct business. These tools help attorneys become “mobile.” Immediate access to the Internet and email is now commonplace. These devices also support a variety of applications (“apps”) or programs to enhance the user’s experience. These apps range from games, to weather alerts, to dictionaries, to navigation tools. There are applications to improve productivity or to keep current with news. New apps are developed daily, each designed to perform a function. Apple, for example, currently lists more than 150,000 Apps.
This article focuses on a few apps created for the legal community. A majority of the applications available are for Apple products, such as the iPhone, iTouch, and iPad.
PocketJustice is an application developed by the Oyez Project. It brings the U.S. Supreme Court to your iPhone, iTouch, or iPad. It provides “abstracts of the Court's constitutional decisions and access to its public sessions. The application includes voting alignments and biographical sketches for all justices. PocketJustice harnesses recordings of the Court's public proceedings to deliver hundreds of hours of oral arguments and opinion announcements. In many of these cases, PocketJustice provides synchronized, searchable transcripts identifying all speakers.” There are two versions available. The first is free and provides access to the top 100 constitutional law cases. The other version costs $4.99 and includes all U.S. Supreme Court cases.
The PocketJustice website does not indicate which cases constitute the “top 100” that are available with the free program. This lack of information is a minor issue when considering the value of the information. The program is an excellent source for U.S. Supreme Court decisions and data. As of the time of this writing, there appears to be an issue with the App and the new version 4 operating system for iPhone. A new release to rectify this will be available, soon according to the website.
The LawStack App, developed by Tekk Innovations, is a tool for individuals looking for federal materials such as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence, and the Constitution. LawStack includes all these rules in a single program. It is compatible with the iPhone, iTouch and iPad. A nice feature of LawStack, and many other Apps, is the ability to use the information offline.
The federal rules package is free, and the user has the option to download additional titles. The cost of these other titles varies, but all fee-based programs are reasonably priced. Examples include the CFR, the Delaware Code, and Florida Statutes. An excellent review of this app is available from Jeff Richardson’s iPhone J.D. blog.
Law Pod features applications for both the Blackberry and Apple products. According to its website, various federal rules are available for both devices. Apple users can also download U.S. Code sections, individual CFR titles, and an extensive selection of Texas materials.
WaffleTurtle offers a variety of law-focused programs for Apple devices. Researchers can choose from a nice selection of state laws and specific federal code sections. In my opinion, however, the primary reason to stop at this site is that it excels in practice-specific apps. Securities lawyers can browse a collection of significant securities laws by purchasing the securities research app ($4.99).
Patent attorneys can obtain the Patent Cooperation Treaty for $7.99, patent local rules for $2.99, and a patent research application ($2.99) that “allows you to use your device's internet connection to efficiently retrieve United States utility patent information, particularly claims, title, inventors, and priority information, if you already know the patent number. Patents can be bookmarked and associated with matter names and numbers, and an editable history of patent numbers is maintained.”
There are other legal applications available, and the number will likely increase exponentially. Bar members can download the Fastcase app for their iPhones. Black’s Law Dictionary is available from West for $49.99, and Lexis users can download the Get Cases & Shepardize app to assist in their research. As mobile technologies develop, it will be interesting to witness the impact on legal professionals.
Bev Butula is the manager of library of services at Davis & Kuelthau, Milwaukee. She is a past president of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin. Bev has written articles and spoken to numerous groups on issues such as effective Internet research, evaluation of Web sites and legal research. Prior to obtaining her Master's Degree in Library Science from UWM, Bev was a litigation paralegal.