The Thurgood Marshall School of Law has more than 699,000 volumes in its library, subscribes to a multitude of journals, and makes available countless other digital resources to the faculty and students. Walking into a library to conduct legal research offers a nostalgic sense of yesteryear mixed with a feeling of importance. The diligent student finds a large table hidden in the back so as not to be disturbed. He takes in the physical evidence of the accumulated wisdom of masterful legal scholars and seasoned jurists. After the awe wears off, he pulls out his iPad and laptop and begins the journey.
Legal research in the past five years has shifted from library research to online researching. Technology has changed the research process just like it has changed the practice of law. “There’s an app for that” has transformed itself from a catchy slogan to an everyday reality for the modern attorney.
Beyond advances being made by Westlaw and LexisNexis, there is an entire digital world that can help lawyers practice more efficiently. It is safe to say there is an app available to enrich every aspect of the practice of law. Here are a few.
• Black’s Law Dictionary: This is probably the most fundamental app available to law students. This app carries a hefty price tag of $54.99; however, it beats carrying around a dictionary. Another great aspect of this app is that it provides audio pronunciation of the word, which is valuable for the traditional Latin phrases. This app is available in the iTunes app store or in the Android Marketplace.
• Nolo: Nolo provides a free alternative to the Black’s Law app. Nolo calls itself the “Plain English Law Dictionary” and is available for download in iTunes.
• Courtroom Objections: This app was developed by Texas litigator Anthony Shorter. It is a hybrid of the federal rules of evidence and the Texas rules of evidence. The app displays common objections to form and admissibility, along with the Texas rule on which the objections are based. This can be a helpful trial partner for the seasoned litigator or a first-year associate. This app is available in iTunes for $2.99.
• Fastcase: This is a free case law research app that accesses U.S. cases and statutes. At this price, how could you go wrong? Fastcase is available for download in iTunes.
• LawBox: This is another free app that provides you access to the U.S. Code as well as Texas statutes. LawBox is available for download in iTunes.
• Wolfram Lawyer’s Professional Assistant: This app does it all and is modestly priced at $4.99. It provides access to a legal dictionary, statutes of limitations for each state and a calendar calculator. It also performs a variety of other calculations. This is a powerful tool that can be carried in the palm of your hand and is available for download in iTunes.
• RateDriver: This app is designed to help the attorney who just hung out his shingle. Now available for free, this app displays firm billing rates for major markets in the United States. Factored into the calculations are geographical location, practice area, firm size and experience. This will ensure that the new lawyer’s billing practices are in line with the competition’s. RateDriver is available for download in iTunes.
These apps do not even scratch the surface of what is available to enhance the practice of law. There are literally hundreds of apps that can enhance your specific practice area. Don’t be afraid to search the app store for an app to fill a need in your practice, because as you know, “there is an app for that.”