Snooping around in an attorney’s briefcase, you might find the typical stacks of paper and clutter. You may also come across the snazzy, new iPad (or iPad2) tablet. The iPad certainly has made its way into the courtroom as a tool that many lawyers now use for a variety of tasks. Of course, what makes the iPad versatile is the availability of a wide range of useful apps, many of which are well suited for attorneys and law firms.
This week, we look at 5 apps that can make you a mobile marvel of efficiency.
As the name implies, this free app transcribes everything that you say into text format (punctuation included!). It allows you to compose emails or write quick notes by simply speaking your messages. Dragon claims that this technology lets you “write” things down up to 5 times faster than if you were to type them out.
Need to do 11 things at once? You can use Dragon Dictation to draft a brief while battling traffic on the interstate. This “hands-free” way of writing is fast, accurate, and may save you loads of time when writing long articles or jotting down a quick reminder. It may interpret your pronunciation of amicus curiae as amicus curry, but your assistant will probably (hopefully) pick up on that upon review.
Ringing in at $4.99, this nifty app lets you read different types of files, such as PDF, Microsoft Office, and iWork (the iPad equivalent of Word, Excel, & Powerpoint), regardless of whether you have those applications installed on your iPad. It is particularly well suited for quickly reviewing and annotating large PDF and document files. GoodReader plays well with a variety of cloud storage services including Dropbox, Google Docs, MobileMe, and Box.net. If your research involves reviewing audio or video clips, GoodReader also has the ability to display pictures, maps, and movies. Lastly, if you’re worried about security, GoodReader also features the ability to encrypt files.
Dropbox is an online storage system that allows you to access your files on the go. While Dropbox is popularly used on desktops and laptops, this free app enables you to enjoy many of its features on the iPad. Because Dropbox saves your files to a “cloud”, any computer, laptop, iPad, or iPhone is capable of accessing files you choose to store there. Other popular features include the ability to share specific files with others. Dropbox uses standard encryption to keep your files secure.
Need to recover a deleted file? Dropbox keeps a copy of your deleted files, as well as different versions of files as you update them, so deleted files can be restored and any changes can be undone. Though the app itself is free, there are different types of accounts for storage: ‘Basic’ gives you 2GB of storage for free, whereas paying for a subscription to the site provides increased storage capacity. The Pro 50 plan allows for 50 GB of storage for $9.99/month, and Pro 100 offers 100 GB of storage for $19.99/month.
This $1.99 app converts your iPad into a versatile sketch pad that is designed to mimic pen and paper but with the benefits of digital enhancements and distribution. Diagrams can easily be sketched with a few strokes of the finger, but most people choose to use a stylus for precision. For those who lack the dexterity of a brain surgeon, the eraser tool and undo buttons make it easy to reverse course. The Wrist Protection feature intelligently ignores stray impressions of the wrist. Penultimate also features various note and drawing organization tools as well as a backup solution.
As for sharing capabilities, drawings and notes can easily be saved or emailed in PDF format. Penultimate also supports projectors, allowing you to showcase your masterpiece to a big audience or jury. Unfortunately, the current version doesn’t offer handwriting recognition, nor is there an easy way to annotate PDFs, two features that would be useful to attorneys.
At $54.99, Black’s Law Dictionary is the most widely-used law dictionary in the world and is considered the go-to source for legal terminology. This app comes in handy when your adversary pretentiously blurts out an unfamiliar Latin term in the courtroom and you’re too proud to despairingly request translation. With 45,000 legal terms, abbreviations, and acronyms, it is likely to have any term that a smart-aleck lawyer throws your way. As an app on your iPad, this featherweight cheat sheet sports alternative spellings, equivalent terms, and cross-references that make finding related terms easy. With virtual bookmarking, you can quickly access words for future reference.
Not sure how to pronounce ei incumbit probatio qui? Not to worry, Black’s Law Dictionary can lend a hand with its audio and pronunciation symbols. Best of all, the app does not require an internet connection because the entire dictionary has been downloaded to your iPad.