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There are more than 100,000 third-party apps available for the iPhone, and over 10 million iPhone apps are downloaded every day. The sheer quantity of apps can be dizzying, but you can always find some good ones by asking around. Most iPhone owners are happy to show off their favorite apps. Here are the ones I consider essential for my iPhone
iPhone Mail, Contacts, Safari, iPhoto, iCalendar and iPod. Yes, these are built in to the iPhone, but they should be mentioned because they were carefully designed by Apple to be both powerful and beautiful—and they all really work well right out of the box.
Documents To Go Premium. This fantastic document viewer from DataViz also lets you edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. No, you aren’t going to write your next Supreme Court brief on a screen the size of a playing card, but this app does a great job when you want to make a quick change to a document and offers many improvements over the iPhone’s built-in document viewer. Also, this is the only app that provides direct access to e-mail attachments if your firm usesMicrosoft Exchange for e-mail. (Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite is an excellent alternative that lacks direct Exchange access but offers other advantages.)
Cliff Maier FRCP. While many companies offer the text of rules and statutes on the iPhone, the dozens of law-related apps offered by Cliff Maier are some of the very best. With FRCP (Federal Rules of Civil Procedure), you can browse a list of rules, jump directly to a rule, browse sequentially from rule to rule, find relevant rules by using an advanced search engine that allows simple Boolean searches, and bookmark your favorite rules to make them easy to find in the future.
DaysFrom Date Calculator. I frequently need to calculate dates—a brief is due in 45 days, a petition is due in 90 days, a contract or an order compels performance in 150 days. Several iPhone apps let you calculate dates, but DaysFrom Date Calculator by QD Ideas is my favorite. It is easy to use, fast and only costs $0.99. Set up the app just once with the date ranges that you use the most, and subsequent uses of the app are quick because you just pick the starting reference date and the ending dates are automatically listed.
NotifyMe. My iPhone often acts as my second brain, and this app from PoweryBase is a great example of that. When I want to make sure that I don’t forget to do something, such as pick up dry cleaning during lunch next Thursday, I simply set that event in the app. When the time comes, a pop-up notification reminds me of what I need to do. Setting up reminders takes just a few seconds, and then you can forget about it … until your iPhone gives you that critical reminder.
Twitterific. I use Twitter to keep up on news. There are many great Twitter clients for the iPhone, but Twitterific from the Icon Factory is my favorite because of its beautiful interface and advanced functions.
Facebook. I use Facebook to keep up with old friends, who sometimes become clients or co-counsel. The Facebook app for the iPhone is, in my opinion, better than the traditional Web interface because it is focused, fast and ad-free.
NetNewsWire. I use Google Reader in a Web browser to keep up with Web sites on my PC at work and my Mac at home. NetNewsWire, an RSS reader from News- Gator Technologies, is a great Google Reader client on the iPhone.
LogMeIn Ignition. This app is pure magic, allowing me to quickly and easily access my home or work computer from my iPhone. Now I never have to worry that I left an important document on my desktop. With this app, I can control my desktop remotely and e-mail myself the file. I can even accomplish tasks via the firm intranet that normally would require a full computer.
Dragon Dictation. Speaking of apps that work so well they seem like magic, I am continually amazed at the accuracy of this app, which is powered by Dragon Naturally Speaking from Nuance Communications. I can quickly dictate a few sentences, press a button to send the transcribed text into the text of an e-mail, choose a recipient and hit Send. There are few transcription mistakes, and any that do occur are a cinch to fix. Every iPhone-using lawyer should have and use this app.
Black’s Law Dictionary. The book I purchased in law school collects dust on my shelf, so it surprises me how often I use this app, published by West, either to look up an unknown term or, more often, to find a concise way to describe a legal concept in a brief. I suppose that my iPhone is always with me so this app is always with me, and that makes all the difference in my using it.
Fastcase. With this newly released app you can search and find cases and statutes on the iPhone fast and for free. The desktop version of the legal research service—a lower-cost alternative to Westlaw and Lexis—has been around for 10 years. The Fastcase app is incredibly useful, and especially handy in court when you want to quickly pull a case at issue and read it.
Jeff Richardson is an attorney in the New Orleans office of Adams and Reese LLP. He blogs about the iPhone at iPhoneJD.com.