How much time do you spend on your phone every day? (Be honest.)
If you find yourself spending more and more time on your mobile device (and we’re betting you do), it could be worth considering a mobile practice. When not depending on an on-premise software, not only can you optimize your billable hours and customer service by increasing availability, you can live a more flexible lifestyle. The best part? There are many apps for lawyers—designed specifically to help firms achieve their mobile goals.
Consider: Robert Guest, chief of criminal defence at Guest and Gray, says he shows up to court with just his phone. “That’s all I need as a criminal lawyer,” he told us.
Could a law firm managed entirely from a mobile device be in the cards for you?
Uniquely designed apps for lawyers make a difference
Creative use of your smartphone and tablet can simplify your day-to-day. Whether you’re an iOS or Android user, there are plenty of lawyer apps that you can use to build a powerful mobile infrastructure for your practice.
Here’s a look at some of the top law firm apps available. Some of these apps were designed specifically for lawyers, while others simply work well in legal practice.
We’ve linked to all of these apps on the app stores for iOs and Android, so you can download them and get started right away.
OneNote and Evernote: For taking and organizing your notes
Evernote has long been an industry leader in its simple design and ability to capture notes and recordings on the fly—in a multitude of formats. In addition to taking, saving, and organizing written notes, Evernote integrates with your smartphone camera. You can capture an image from almost any surface (receipt, whiteboard, paper), rotate it, crop it, and adjust it to the dimensions required, and easily share it from your mobile device.
For Clio lawyers scanning documents, this app has the added advantage of removing creases in folded documents, and can be used to turn business cards into contacts.
For lawyers operating in a Microsoft Office environment, OneNote is another good option.
Feedly: For keeping a finger on the pulse of the legal industry
With the advent of social media, we create, circulate, and consume more and more content at an increasingly rapid pace. Still, for research, marketing, competitor analysis, and more, lawyers need access to real-time content. The solution? You need a tool that lets you filter out what’s not important to create a useful knowledge base.
With Feedly, you can streamline your content monitoring and social shares so you’ll never miss a case or trending topic. Organize your content into streams, collect articles with tags, and share them easily across social media and separate accounts.
TripIt: For tracking travel expenses
For the mobile lawyer that goes further afield, TripIt is the itinerary coordinating app that connects directly to your Gmail account. Save time scrolling through confirmation emails by forwarding flight tickets, car rentals, hotel reservations, and more to your app. Curate your own itinerary, complete with maps of areas and airports. From there, trips can be synced to Microsoft Outlook or your Google Calendar.
Dictate+Connect: For dictation
The original go-to for the mobile lawyer, the dictaphone, has undergone innumerable facelifts during the internet era. Dictate+Connect allows you to turn your iPad into a dictation device that can be synced with Box, within your Clio account. Simply record and sync testimonies and interrogatories to your evidence.
OneDrive, Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive: For document storage
If you’re going mobile, you’ll need a cloud data storage service that lets you access your data from anywhere. OneDrive, Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive fit the bill, with some having notable advantages:
- Google Drive offers direct integration with Google Docs, which allows you to edit all your documents directly from your browser without needing any other programs.
- Box offers in-document searching for enterprise-level accounts.
- OneDrive inherently integrates with the Microsoft Office suite, making this a good option for Microsoft users.
Your data is safe in the cloud as well. Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive employ data encryption, as well as physical and electronic security protocols at their server sites. (Read the security policies for Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. Also, here’s a post about security and OneDrive.)
Penultimate and Noteshelf (iPad only): For taking handwritten notes
If you like the tactile sensation of writing, it’s worth trying out an app that lets you store your handwritten thoughts electronically. Both Noteshelf and Evernote’s Penultimate app are good options.
Need to take notes by hand but also need to stay organized? Evernote syncs with Penultimate and processes your notes so that you can search for handwritten text within the app.
iAnnotate, GoodReader, and PDF Expert 5: For annotating and marking up documents
Having a mobile legal practice means you’ll likely need to review and mark up documents. You need a robust PDF reader that allows you to redline, highlight, and add notes and comments to your documents.
Three good options for lawyers are iAnnotate, GoodReader, and PDF Expert 5. GoodReader syncs with Dropbox. And, iAnnotate and PDF Expert allow you to sync documents from multiple online sources such as Dropbox and Google Drive, making document management even easier.
Skype: For meeting with clients
A video calling and messaging app like Skype truly allows lawyers to practice from anywhere. Need to quickly meet with a client in a different time zone (or even a different zip code)? Schedule a short video call with them via Skype. Need to call an international number? Make the call via Skype at a much lower cost than mobile or landline rates.
AgileLaw: For paperless depositions
Never print another document exhibit. AgileLaw lets you seamlessly run a deposition without printed documents—run the deposition on one iPad, and present trial exhibits on another.
This app is free, but you’ll need an AgileLaw account.
TrialPad: For trial presentations
Stop carting heavy bankers boxes to your trials. TrialPad allows you to control your trial presentations from your iPad, allowing attorneys to view evidence from various different angles. Callout sections of text, highlight text, compare documents side-by-side, and more.
This app is a little more pricey than others on the list—it’ll set you back $130. However, if you do a lot of trial work, it could be well worth the cost.
Fastcase: For legal research
Fastcase is the world’s largest free mobile law library. It’s an indispensable app for attorneys practicing law on the go. Fastcase also integrates with Clio, allowing users to accurately keep track of time spent on legal research.
Slack: Also for legal research (and communication!)
Slack, an extremely popular communications app, is being increasingly used in legal offices. Just as Clio integrates with a multitude of apps and web services, Slack is compatible with similar integrations such as Zapier and provides for the automation of onerous legal work like legal research. By setting up an RSS feed that monitors precedents for new citations, you can create an opportunity for it to be discussed with case stakeholders and colleagues in a special Slack room, streamlining your costly research process.
Zapier: For everything else
While this isn’t technically an app, Zapier can help mobile lawyers save a lot of time. It seamlessly allows you to automate actions between your favorite apps by setting up Zaps between them. For example, you could designate a notebook in Evernote, where each new note will save automatically to a designated matter in Clio.
There are a myriad of options with Zapier. If you’re spending any amount of time on repeatable tasks between apps, it’s worth checking out whether you can automate them with a Zap.
Clio: For Legal Practice Management
Finally, you’ll need a cloud-based legal practice management solution that allows you to take your practice on the road. A mobile app solution (like Clio’s) will allow you to access your client data securely, anywhere, anytime.
With the Clio mobile app, you can track time, view client information, create new matters and contacts, and more.
Also, Clio integrates with many of the other apps on this list (we have over 50 integration partners in total), which means you’ll be able to run your entire practice from one place.
Apps can make a lawyer’s life easier, but there’s much more to consider when starting a mobile practice. Get the information you need by downloading a free copy of our white paper, The Mobile Revolution: What Law Firms Need to Know.