Friday, February 13, 2015

Essential Apps for Experts

"The impact of technology on law is moving forward with all the subtlety of a charging rhinoceros…”

Cropped for Clarity
Credit: Blake Patterson. Cropped for Clarity.
That’s at least according to Oliver R. Goodenough, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Legal Innovation at the Vermont Law School. While there is no doubt that technology is rapidly changing the legal profession and some lawyers aren’t yet embracing the latest trends; others are not only anticipating, but incorporating it into their practice. One of the tools that attorneys have been turning to for several years now is the iPad.  In fact a survey by the International Legal Technology Association revealed that 90% of law firms have attorneys using iPads (read more here). And why wouldn’t there be? The iPad is convenient, small, and easy to use. And, today there are apps for jury selection and trial preparation; for keeping track of witnesses and scanning exhibits; and for reviewing transcripts and for managing pdfs.

So what about iPads for experts? Could it make your life easier too? Could you use your iPad for more than just Angry Birds?

Definitely. There are quite a few websites that review and compile the best iPad apps for academics and researchers (MIT has a really great guide here). We haven’t yet found one specifically for experts yet, but many of the apps and technology that attorneys use are likely powerful tools for experts too. Here are a few of those websites we’ve encountered:
  • See iPhone JD for really great reviews of products (battery packs, cloud storage, apps, and more) and advice (e.g. concerning security, or how to use your iPad more efficiently) and news. ABA Journal named the blog the best Legal Technology blog for several years and just added it to its Hall of Fame in 2014.
  • Robert Ambrogi, who has his own blog on legal technology, social media, and the law; also occasionally writes for IMS Expert Services’ blog, Bullseye. He recently wrote two posts on “40 Essential Apps for Trial Lawyers,” (parts 1 & 2), which inspired this post .
  • The CyberAdvocate is likewise all about tools and tech for anyone in the legal biz and frequently reviews new and notable apps. 
From these and from sources around the web, we’ve pulled some of the most promising for experts and most noted, and compiled them here:
  •   Dropbox 
    • Free
    • Want to review your research on the go, or share with your associates? Use Dropbox to share and store files. However one should be a cautious user. The American Bar Association notes, “although this service is very handy for sharing and collaborating on documents, it is not recommended for storing privileged and confidential client information,” (an important fact that one should be aware of when using any one of the following services).
  • LogMein 
    • Free
    • On the road to deposition and realize you need to review a file that’s not stored in the
      clouds, but is actually on your desktop? Use this app to access your desktop remotely (so long as your desktop is running).
  • Goodreader 
    • $4.99
    • MIT Libraries calls this app for reading, annotating, and organizing PDFs “super-robust,” and is highly recommended by iPhoneJD (extensive review at here). You can download documents from the cloud, edit them, and sync changes.  You can group your PDFs into folders. The only unfortunate thing that Goodreader can’t do is OCR.
  • JotNot Pro or Scanner Pro 
    • $4.99 / $6.99
    • Ever wind up in the library without quarters? Or don’t want to haul 6” thick, ancient journals to the copier (as I once had to)?  Convert photos into PDFs. Both apps allow for sending and sharing. JotNot also allows you to fax pages for $0.99. iPhoneJD has a 2012 of Scanner Pro review here
  • Westlaw Case Notebook Portable eTranscript 
    • Free.
    • Need to review an opposing expert’s deposition to write a rebuttal report? Need to review your own deposition as a refresher? The app will allow you to not only review and search but annotate transcripts in the traditional E-Transcript .PTX format.
  •  Fastcase 
    • Free
    • As an expert, you likely won’t need to review case law frequently, but you may need to review federal statutes depending on your expertise. If you do, fastcase allows you to do quick legal research on the go. It’s the mostpopular app among lawyers for the second year in a row. 
  • Legal Lingo
    • $54.99 / Free
    • Though we write and explain legal lingo here at M&A, there may be a time when you need to know more than we cover. There are two main legal apps for you to choose from: You can get Black’s Law Dictionary for $54.99 or Law Dictionary & Guide for free. We do have a physical copy of Black’s Law Dictionary in our office, since a general understanding of legal language is essential for an expert witnessing; however depending on your needs, either option may be appropriate.

Hopefully that’s enough for you to get started. In the meantime, let us know if there are any apps you use professionally. Or, are there any apps you’d like to see developed for experts? We’d love to see a regularly updated and clickable Daubert/Frye Map to help quickly evaluate the hurdles for scientific admissibility in the courts.

[1] This post is not necessarily an endorsement of iPads over other tablets, simply coverage of relevant apps for iPad users. As a recent Above the Law post notes, iPads do have a great selection of legal apps, but there are many other tablet options that are just as good if not better for different uses. 


  1. Notability is an app I find extremely useful. I is a document utility. You can type, insert images, use the device’s camera, import other documents, copy/paste/delete text, move whole blocks of text or other objects, and use the pencil tool for drawing or handwriting. It is very versatile, and integrates well with Dropbox.

    1. Thanks for the comment and great recommendation. Circus Ponies and Evernote have also been routinely listed as great apps for note-taking, although Notability is often touted as the best for handwriting notes. The MIT Libraries compilation I linked to in the post also has a great list of note-taking and writing apps.

  2. You can type, insert images, use the device’s camera, import other documents, copy/paste/delete text, move whole blocks of text or other objects, and use the pencil tool for drawing or handwriting. It is very versatile, and integrates well with Dropbox. very well post.