ALM launched 14 smartphone apps – including one for the Connecticut Law Tribune – for use on Apple Inc.'s iPhones, iPods, and iPads. The apps provide content from the company's national and regional web and print publications, and support iOS 6.1 and above.
The Law Technology News and Corporate Counsel apps are free; for a limited time the other 12 apps – including the Law Trib's – will provide free access to all editorial content in their publications, made possible by sponsors who are identified within the app. Three publications also retain their existing digital magazine apps, powered by Texterity, which offer PDF versions of the print magazines: Law Technology News, The American Lawyer, and Corporate Counsel.
Readers' preferences were at the heart of ALM's decision to create the new apps, said ALM officials. "In the past the first place our readers would turn to in the morning was our legal newspapers. Today, the first thing they reach for is their smartphone and tablet," observed Bill Carter, ALM's president and CEO. "With the launch of these 14 native apps, we now offer unparalleled access to ALM news and insights for the time-conscious and news hungry legal professional. This marks a big step in ALM's transition to being a digital-first media company that delivers relevant, timely, news and insights to lawyers throughout the day, no matter where their practice takes them – from the office to the courtroom," he said.
Over the last two years, surveys and studies have documented a surging demand by lawyers to "bring your own device" to work (BYOD), and for connectivity on demand. "As lawyers are increasingly mobile, it's crucial to provide the news and information they need in the formats they prefer," said ALM's David Brown, vice president and editor-in-chief. "When news breaks, minutes can matter to legal professionals who are protecting and serving clients."
Jeffrey Litvack, who Tuesday was promoted to chief digital officer at ALM, was the leader of the project. "The introduction of these 14 native apps is just the latest component of our digital-first initiative, he said. "We have focused our digital strategy on meeting our readers' preferences and now provide a portfolio of options for readers to access ALM's up to date legal news and information on smartphones and tablets," he said. The apps project followed an upgrade of about 50 ALM newsletters, optimizing layouts for reading on mobile devices; as well as a renovation of ALM's websites, said Litvack.
"In the last year, the number of visitors to ALM's online news sites who are using mobile devices has increased nearly 60 percent, far outpacing the growth in desktops and laptops," observed Litvack. "More specifically, litigators – who are often out of the office and otherwise on the go – make up the largest percentage of mobile readers on ALM's Web sites, now representing more than 45 percent of unique visitors," Litvack said.
"These native apps place online legal news into the palms of readers who use iPhones and iPads as part of their daily routine," he said. "The apps offer a superior and faster reading experience than what is possible through a smartphone or tablet web browser."
Litvack cited ease of use, and touch access as key factors in the new apps. Users can easily find decisions, news, and public notices, and move quickly from one article ot the next. The apps integrate with Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and email, said Litvack. The apps cache front page stories and decisions and maintain your Favorites to read offline.
The team decided to launch initially on Apple's iOS because of its strong popularity among lawyers. According to the 2012 Am Law Tech Survey, when it comes to reading legal news, Apple's iPad holds a 98 percent share of the legal market. Android and BlackBerry versions will follow.
Of course, no launch would be without some minor glitches, and Litvack said his team is still tweaking. "The easiest way to find our apps is to link from our website," he said. "Right now searching from the App Store can be challenging; we are working to fix that." And he reminds users to follow Apple's advice to keep your software current. "The apps were built for iOS 6.1 and above. Readers who haven't updated may experience some challenges in that content may be cut off."
ALM is the parent company of Law Technology News.