A Lawyer on Every Smartphone: Maryland Young Lawyers Make Technological Strides

Volume 38, Number 2

By

Sahmra A. Stevenson-Smith is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and principal in the office of Stevenson & Associates, LLC in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) is blazing new paths in technological development right now thanks largely to the leadership efforts of 2011−2012 Young Lawyers’ Section Chair Erek L. Barron. With the practice of law becoming more mobile than ever, the MSBA has taken the bold initiative to develop a free smartphone application that provides Maryland attorneys with easy, on-the-go access to the Rules of Evidence, Rules of Professional Conduct, and Rules for Attorney Trust Accounts; the Court of Appeals’ Ideals of Professionalism; and the MSBA Code of Civility. The new app allows users to search for rules by chapter, title, or rule, and to bookmark them for future reference. In addition, it features links to portions of the MSBA website (www.msba.org), including the MSBA Ethics Hotline, Ethics Opinions (accessible to members only), and Fastcase online legal research (accessible to members only). Versions of the MSBA’s App are available for users of the iPhone and iPad, Android, and Blackberry smartphones, and can be downloaded directly from the Apple iTunes Store, Android Market, and Blackberry App World.

“With this free app, there’s no need to guess what the ethics rules are, wherever you are—so long as you have a smartphone, the answer is literally right at your fingertips,” says Erek Barron, former Chair of the MSBA Young Lawyers Section (YLS), which developed the new substantive app as part of its technology initiative last year. The mobile application is the first of its kind. “The development of mobile applications, or apps, has exploded in the last few years, and now there are literally hundreds of thousands of apps from which to choose,” says Paul V. Carlin, MSBA Executive Director. “Our Young Lawyers Section has impressively taken the initiative to develop practical, relevant apps for MSBA members.”

As the sitting Chair of the Young Lawyers’ Section, Erek acted deliberately in his efforts to expand the MSBA’s ambit of influence in the social media world. The actual development of the application required collaboration among the MSBA, Mr. Barron, and the application development company, TenPearls. Ten Pearls is an award-winning, global application development company focusing on cross-platform mobile development, games, and enterprise applications. “Congratulations to Erek Barron for spearheading this initiative from concept to completion,” said Imran Aftab, President of TenPearls. “We are excited to be a part of this effort with the Maryland State Bar Association for the launch of this important mobile initiative.”

The MSBA app has already garnered positive reviews. “I love that the Young Lawyers Section of the Maryland Bar saw the need for an app and created something that is free for all attorneys,” wrote New Orleans attorney Jeff Richardson on his tech-review blog, iPhone J.D. “[P]erhaps this app can serve as an example and an impetus for other state bar associations to provide useful iPhone and iPad apps to their members.” In addition, Jeffrey Taylor, an attorney in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, writing on his tip/review blog, The Droid LawyerTM, called the MSBA app “a well-designed application that all Maryland attorneys should be proud of.”

Other technology-driven YLS projects last year included the launch of a new YLS website (www.yls.org) and blog (http://ylsgavel.wordpress.com). “Technological advances are changing how lawyers practice law and how they relate to clients and one another,” says Barron. “The organized bar should lead the discussion regarding these advances and what they mean for the future.” The YLS celebrated the formal launch of its mobile application at the end of 2011. “Interestingly,” he adds, “I’m already hearing that one or more of our local bars are considering [creating] their own apps based on what the MSBA has done.”

For more information on the MSBA app, contact Erek L. Barron at ebarron@wtplaw.com.

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