Mobile apps for the paperless law office
More than ever, lawyers are realizing the value and time-saving capabilities of mobile devices. The flexibility and convenience of practicing law on the go is especially apparent when lawyers take advantage of mobile apps created for creating, storing and organizing documents and notes. If you haven’t yet discovered the many benefits of creating and accessing digital documents on your iPhone or iPad, why not get started today using some of the iOS apps discussed below?
First, your iOS device is perfect for taking notes no matter where you happen to be. Some of the most popular note-taking apps include Evernote (free), Notability ($2.99), and, my favorite, Springpad (free). All three of these apps offer a vast assortment of note-taking capabilities, including a variety of methods and integrations which allow you to access your notes on both your device and online. Springpad and Evernote also offer Web-based interfaces which make it easy to clip and store websites, images and more using any Web-enabled device.
For document creation, one of the best options is Apple’s Pages app ($9.99), which offers full-featured word processing right on your iPad or iPhone. If you prefer Microsoft Word, then you can use the Office 365 app for iPhone (free, but not yet developed for the iPad), although that app requires that you have an Office 365 subscription and doesn’t offer many of the popular features found in Word, such as the ability to track changes.
For a more full-fledged word processing app for Word documents, take a look at Office² HD ($7.99), an app that lets you view, edit and create Microsoft Word-compatible documents, Microsoft Excel-compatible workbooks and Microsoft Powerpoint-compatible presentations right on your iPad.
Next up, apps that facilitate the storage and annotation of PDF documents. There is a lot of competition in this space and as a result, there are a number of PDF apps that are popular amongst lawyers.
First, there’s Goodreader ($4.99). For many lawyers, this is the app of choice for reading and storing PDF documents. although I find the interface to be a bit clunky. My preferred PDF annotation app of choice is PDF Expert ($9.99), because it has the cleanest and most intuitive interface. Like Goodreader, it reads most documents types and and once you’ve imported documents, you can create folders, name your files and store them away.
It also has fantastic annotation features, making it incredibly easy to fill in forms by adding typewritten or handwritten text into documents. You can also mark up documents by highlighting text or striking through words and easily input text into blanks found in documents. Other popular options to consider include iAnnotate ($9.99) and ReaddleDocs (free).
Finally, another way that you can use your iPhone and iPad to manage documents on the go is by using a scanner app. There are a number of document scanner apps available either for free or at very reasonable prices of less than $10. These apps make it easy to scan a document using your device’s camera function. You simply take a picture of the document and then send it to the recipient via email. Many also give you the option of printing the document or uploading it to a cloud-based document storage website such as Dropbox, Evernote or Google Docs. My scanner app of choice is Scanner Pro ($2.99). Other alternatives include GeniusScan (free) or TurboScan ($1.99).
So there you have it: an assortment of apps that make it easier than ever to create and manage documents on the go. So download a few of them today and give them a test drive. You might be surprised at how easy it is to to stay on top of your busy law practice no matter where you happen to be.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at [email protected].