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Legal Currents: Useful iPad apps for the tech-savvy lawyer

By NICOLE BLACK, Special to Lawyers Weekly

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Nicole Black

Nicole Black

A friend of mine from my Public Defender days who still works at the PD’s office recently emailed me and asked to write an article about iPad apps for lawyers.  I was happy to oblige – especially since I regularly write about topics like this at my blog, the Legal iPad (www.legal-ipad.com).

First off, before you purchase any apps, spend some time with your iPad, think about your workflow and decide whether you plan to create content, consume content or both. This decision will necessarily affect which apps you choose to purchase. Since iPad apps tend to cost quite a bit more than iPhone apps, you may as well avoid wasting your hard-earned money and invest in apps that you will actually use.

If you plan to create content, including documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, you should consider purchasing either QuickOfficeConnect Mobile Suite ($14.99), which allows you to create and edit Microsoft-compatible files or Apple’s productivity suite of apps, Pages (word-processing), Numbers (spreadsheet creation) and Keynote (presentation software), each of which costs $9.99.

A file-management app is another important tool to have on your iPad if you plan to work with a large number of files. Absent a file-management app, your files will be segregated inside of different apps. File-management apps store all of your files in one place and some also allow PDF annotation.

There are a number of apps of this type, but two of the most popular are GoodReader ($2.99) and Readdle Docs ($4.99), both of which, in addition to file management, also provide decent PDF annotation capabilities.

If your file-management app of choice doesn’t permit PDF annotation, or if you would prefer a feature-rich PDF annotation app, there are a number of great apps to choose from that make it easy for you to mark up PDFs. Using these apps, you can input text, add written notes, highlight text and more. Some of my favorites include SignMyPad, iAnnotate PDF ($9.99), Readdle PDF Expert ($9.99) and Noterize ($3.99)

Many of the apps mentioned above sync with a number of cloud-based storage options, making it easy for you to access and import into the app documents stored in the cloud. For that reason, and for the sake of convenience, you may want to consider using a cloud-based storage app such as DropBox (free), the online storage option that is most likely to be compatible with most apps. Another option is Box.net, also free. These apps allow you to upload and store your files in the cloud, so that you can access them anywhere, anytime and from any type of Internet-enabled device.

Another way to access files using your iPad is to remotely access your desktop computer. There are a number of apps that facilitate this process, including LogMeIn Ignition ($29.99), Splashtop Remote Desktop ($4.99), Wyse PocketCloud Pro ($14.99) and Remote Desktop ($5.99).

There are also a number of legal-specific apps available that you may want to purchase. If you are a litigator, there are three different trial presentation apps: the RLTC Evidence ($9.99), Exhibit A ($4.99) and TrialPad ($89.99). An app that assists with jury selection is also available, Jury Tracker ($9.99).

Other legal apps include Lawstack, which includes, among others, the U.S. Constitution, the Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure, the Federal Rules of Evidence and certain state codes. LawBox (free) is another app that is very similar to Lawstack.

Finally, Fastcase (free) is a legal research app that includes cases and statutes from all 50 states and the federal government.

For more information on using your iPad in your law practice, check out the following blogs, in addition to my own: Tablet Legal (www.tabletlegal.com), iPadLawyer (www.ipadlawyer.co.uk), iPad Notebook (www.ipadnotebook.wordpress.com).

Editor’s note: Black, a Rochester, N.Y., attorney, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier and is writing a book about cloud computing for lawyers that will be published by the ABA in early 2011. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology.

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