Ape for Apps: 9 Great Free Applications for Attorneys in 2015

By John F. O'Rourke and Trevor Roberts

This article first appeared in O.C. Lawyer, published November 1st, 2015. Vol. 57, No. 11

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While almost every lawyer uses a smartphone these days, very few appreciate just what that powerful computer in their hand can do. The functionality of today's mobile devices goes way beyond preparing maps, messaging, and making calls. These electronic wonders can serve as the ultimate Swiss Army Knife for an attorney, meeting a wide variety of needs.

Aside from the amazing utilities that come pre-installed in newer phones, there are some truly mind-blowing free applications that one can download to one's device. The problem is that the number of apps that are now available on iTunes and Google Play has become overwhelming. How is one to sort through a selection of over a million titles to find just the right application?

That's where we come in. We have sorted through the clutter to find the real treasures. The apps on this list are genuine gems that any attorney (or student or businessperson) may want to add to their repertoire. Though not necessarily designed for the practice of law, these apps can help attorneys get more done-and get it done faster and cheaper-than they could before.

Periscope (twitter.com/Periscope): Periscope is Twitter's app for live-streaming video from a mobile device. Periscope can really come in handy when you need to show something visual to colleagues or clients. Periscope effectively allows others to see through your eyes. A broadcast can be made private and available to only specified people by pushing the lock icon, or you can make it public-for instance, if you wanted to stream a live podcast on a legal topic. Your broadcast can even be stored online for up to twenty-four hours (at your option) so that viewers can replay it. Alternatives: Meerkat, YouTube.

Skyscanner (www.skyscanner.com): Skyscanner helps users quickly and easily find the cheapest way to fly from city A to city B. This can be especially useful for an attorney who has received last-minute notification of a client meeting or ex parte hearing. In seconds, you can compare many different flights on many different airlines, and then link directly to an airline or travel agent to purchase your ticket. You can also search for hotels and car rentals. And best of all, you can do it while on the go! Alternatives: Invisible Hand, Hipmunk.

Evernote Scannable (evernote.com/products/scannable/): Just point Scannable at anything with writing: a report, a receipt, or even a whiteboard, and Scannable will transform it into a high-quality, crystal-clear document. If your scan is a little crooked, or if there is a crease, this amazing app will fix it. Scannable also recognizes business cards and transforms scanned information into rich contacts complete with photos and LinkedIn details. You can then save all of this info directly to your phone's contacts. Alternatives: Scanbot, Office Lens.

1 Password (agilebits.com/onepassword): Do you carefully create long, complicated passwords for each of your important accounts? And do you use different login info for each of these accounts? Chances are, you don't. And if you fail to have separate, hard-to-hack passwords for each site you access, you are vulnerable to online theft. 1 Password is a fully cross-platform security app that allows users to store multiple, complex identities under a single, master password (no more using birthdates, pet names or hobbies for sign-ins). One can also store software licenses and other sensitive information. Alternatives: Keefox, KeePass.

Duolingo (www.duolingo.com): It is becoming increasingly necessary for lawyers to communicate with clients in more than one language. And while there are many choices for at-home study programs, they can be quite expensive. Duolingo is a free website, with companion apps, that allows one to learn many popular languages at no cost. Most importantly, Duolingo strives to keep learners' interest by using games to develop vocabulary, and fun quizzes to track their progress. Alternatives: Memrise, Rosetta Stone, MindSnacks.

Legal Newsance (similanlabs.com/mobile-app): Legal Newsance curates and delivers over 300 law-related news, opinions, and blog items per week. This app also provides easy access to over 1200 online statutes, rules, guides, and databases (including TESS, EDGAR and PACER), as well as on-demand CLE seminars. Attorneys, law students, and paralegals also can browse current job openings, some of which can be applied for with just a tap of one's smartphone.

Fastcase (www.fastcase.com): This free research application contains cases and statutes from all fifty states and from the federal government. One can search by citation, keyword (in natural language or Boolean), or browse statute collections. Fastcase attempts to sort the best results and put them at the top, much like a Google search, and it features an interactive map of these results that displays the most important cases at a glance. Alternatives: LawStack, Rulebook.

Any.do (www.any.do): This multi-platform app is a great way to do everything from organizing a major project with one's colleagues, to sharing a to-do list with one's receptionist. This list-making and task-management app includes date and time alerts and, on iPhones, geolocation reminders. It also features its signature "Any.do moment" that reminds you to review your daily schedule. Any.do also syncs seamlessly with Google Tasks. Alternatives: Simplenote, Notezilla.

7-Minute Workout (7minworkoutapp.com): We thought it would be fun to round out our list with an exercise app. Let's face it, most attorneys need to get up out of their chair and move around more often. With this easy-to-use application, anyone can get in better shape just by taking seven minutes out of their busy day to do some calisthenics. By following the illustrated routine, you can make sure that your form is correct and that you are getting the best results possible. Alternative: Go outside and take a nice walk. That's free, too!

John F. O'Rourke is a registered patent attorney and inventor at WHGC, P.L.C. Over the past forty years, Mr. O'Rourke has prepared several hundred original U.S. patent applications across a broad spectrum of technical disciplines. Trevor Roberts is an Of Counsel at WHGC, P.L.C. and an adjunct professor at Trinity Law School. All trademarks used in this article are the property of their respective owners. No endorsement, association, or affiliation is implied.