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 looking at managing more of your firm from a mobile device. 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.
Whether you’re an iOS or Android user, there are plenty of apps for lawyers that you can use to build a powerful mobile infrastructure for your practice, allowing you to have a more flexible schedule and be more available for your customers.
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 included links for all of these apps, so you can download them and get started right away.
OneNote and Evernote: For taking and organizing your notes
For lawyers operating in a Microsoft Office environment, OneNote is a great option for taking and organizing notes, even while on the go. OneNote lets you pin the pages you use most and easily share notes with friends and colleagues.
Another option is Evernote, which has long been an industry leader with 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, or 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, Evernote has the added advantage of removing creases in folded documents, and can be used to turn business cards into contacts.
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. For research, marketing, competitor analysis, and more, lawyers need access to relevant, real-time content.
In other words, 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 new information on a case or trending topic. Organize your content into streams, collect articles with tags, and share them easily across social media and separate accounts.
If you’re looking for great blogs to follow, start with a few from the ABA Journal’s Web 100 list.
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 chosen storage solution.
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. All feature mobile apps, and some have notable advantages:
- OneDrive inherently integrates with the Microsoft Office suite, making this a good option for Microsoft users.
- 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.
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.
Adobe Acrobat Reader: For annotating and marking up documents
Having the ability to review and markup documents via an app on your phone can be a game changer for your productivity. But in order for this to work, you’ll need a robust PDF reader that allows you to redline, highlight, and add notes and comments to your documents.
For Clio’s Lawyer in Residence, Joshua Lenon, Adobe Acrobat Reader fits the bill. It includes a built-in sync to Dropbox, so all changes are synced automatically—there’s no need to download and upload with new edits.
Skype: For meeting with clients
A video calling and messaging app like Skype truly allows lawyers to practice from anywhere—and not just from your laptop. Skype’s mobile app is powerful enough to meet your firm’s needs.
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 dragging heavy bankers boxes to your trials. TrialPad allows you to control 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.
TrialPad (iPad only)
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.
These free mobile apps don’t have the same capabilities as the full version of Fastcase, but they’re still extremely helpful to have on hand while you’re away from the office.
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 helps automate of onerous tasks 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.
Of course, you can use Slack for communication within the office as well!
Zapier: For everything else
While this isn’t technically an app, Zapier can help mobile lawyers save a lot of time. It allows you to seamlessly 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.
Black’s Law Dictionary: For fast access to legal terms
For access to tens of thousands of legal terms on the go, there’s nothing better than Black’s Law Dictionary. And, in the internet age, even Black’s has an app. The 10th edition, put out in a mobile app version from Thomson Reuters, will set you back $74.99.
Black’s Law Dictionary 10th edition (iOS only)
Zipwhip: For sending professional texts
The 2017 Legal Trends Report found that 27% of consumers see a willingness to exchange text messages as a key factor when choosing a lawyer. Zipwhip lets you send and receive texts from your business number, making it easy to be both professional and responsive.
Zipwhip also integrates directly with Clio, allowing you to keep all of your text conversations organized in a single system of record.
RightSignature: For getting documents signed
E-signatures are incredibly useful for getting documents signed quickly, and with RightSignature’s mobile apps, you can share documents with clients and get them signed from wherever you are.
RightSignature also integrates directly with Clio, so that you can keep all your documents and information organized in one place.
Signal: For secure client communication
In the digital age, keeping client communications confidential and secure is increasingly difficult. As a lawyer, you need to do your due diligence to make sure you’re adhering to client confidentiality rules.
With the Signal app from Open Whisper Systems, you don’t need to worry. All communications in the app are always end-to-end encrypted.
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 solution with a powerful mobile app (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 apps on this list (we have over 70 integration partners in total, many of which can be found in Clio’s App Directory), which means you’ll be able to run your entire practice from one place.
With help from Clio’s mobile app, Nicholas Hite manages 160 open cases at once across the entire state of Louisiana. See how he does it.
*This is an updated version of a post previously published on November 7, 2016.