YourABA March 2013 Masthead

Scroll the smarter way: The latest iPhone and iPad apps to help lawyers work more efficiently

The most downloaded iPhone and iPad applications may be the hit cartoon game Angry Birds, the popular social network Facebook and the Internet radio service Pandora, but among the 1 million different apps are some useful tools for lawyers on the go who crave organization, easy access and synchronization between their office and everywhere else. In a recent continuing legal education course, “iPhone and iPad Apps for Lawyers,” experts hand-picked apps in a variety of categories deemed most valuable for legal professionals.

Tech-savvy panelists Jim Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program, and Tom Mighell, a senior consultant at Contoural Inc., a provider of information governance consulting services, presented the most exciting applications for iPhone and iPad users that can make these devices the Swiss Army knife of successful lawyers.

Evernote was labeled the “most valuable player” of iPhone and iPad apps based on its ability to allow users to log information as they find it and search for it later.

An overarching theme is the concept of a “mobile office” that provides tools away from your desk. Rather than a static paper calendar, apps such as Fantastical and Pocket Informant Pro can be accessed from a mobile device. For Internet searches, Calloway identified the Atomic Web Browser app as ideal for the iPhone and iPad because it “has the ability to remember your settings … so the next time you go to the site, you won’t have to zoom in and out.” Google’s Chrome browser app allows users to access sites saved on a computer at work via their touch-screen devices.

“If you are a Chrome user on your desktop, you can synchronize all of your bookmarks back and forth (between your iPad and desktop),” Mighell said. Calloway reiterated that point, admitting that “many times that’s bailed me out where I had a bookmark I wanted to get back to.”

The panelists said that the question lawyers asked most about when using iPhones and iPads was: “How do I use Microsoft Word?” Document creation, revision and annotation are critical to many in the legal profession to access important attachments and make changes. As of now, there is no official app made for Microsoft Office.

Documents to Go and Quickoffice Pro HD are popular tools for editing and manipulating documents, but experts shared that lawyers who seek consistency should download the app CloudOn to enjoy the entire suite of Microsoft Word features.

“With CloudOn, you are actually accessing Microsoft Office in the cloud,” Mighell explained. “It will load the document into a full version of Microsoft Word.” Mighell noted that CloudOn does have a limitation because it requires an Internet connection.

Panelists said another important task for legal professionals is note taking. Notability is a versatile app that lets users log information through handwriting, typing and audio. But Evernote, a popular new player in the app world, was labeled the “most valuable player” of iPhone and iPad apps based on its ability to allow users to log information as they find it and search for it later.

“Evernote is just, in my view, a must-have app,” Calloway said. “It has a great Web-capturing ability.”

As a cloud-based service, Evernote is a tool for tracking information and making it accessible by organizing the information with “tags” and storing those details in different “notebooks.” Users cannot only store their own notes and lists, but also articles they find and pictures they take while out and about. For instance, if a lawyer sees a street sign that needs to be documented for a particular case, a lawyer can snap a photo of it in Evernote, tag the photo with the case name and find the photo later by searching for that case name.

“Evernote will use optical character recognition technology to be able to read the text in any image that you upload,” Mighell said. “You can easily read it and that makes it searchable.”

Experts stressed that lawyers also focus on security, especially because client-privileged information and personal information should be confidential. Mighell and Calloway recommended locking a device and instituting 12-character passwords rather than using the previous eight-character standard. An easy way to store these passwords is through password manager apps LastPass or 1 Password, Mighell said.

“A password manager is something you should have on your iPhone or your iPad,” Mighell advised. “Keeping track of passwords is just not easy to do and shouldn’t be done anymore on a notepad or sticky note.”

Experts also discussed how to digitally sign documents; how to use accessories to film witness testimonies with an iPad; how to scan documents with Scanner Pro; and ways to use an iPhone or iPad as a remote for presentations, such as through KeynoteRemote.

The panelists said legal professionals should download carefully, advising that they check with their IT department to verify if one app is preferred over another and to build a “support network” of friends and co-workers who also use the same apps. Several apps come in both free and paid versions, and experts recommend paying if a user enjoys the app enough or will frequently use it.

More information can be found in Tom Mighell’s book,iPad Apps in One Hour for Lawyers. The CLE was presented by the ABA Law Practice Management Section, Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division, Section of Intellectual Property Law, Young Lawyers Division and the Center for Professional Development.

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