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Reference apps for the mobile lawyer

By Nicole L. Black, Published on October 21, 2012

These days it seems as if we’re always on the go. The good news is that for the mobile lawyer, there are lots of ways to get things done on the road, with smart phones and tablets leading the way.

Of course, one things that busy lawyers always need access to is information. Fortunately, there are a vast assortment of useful mobile apps that make it easy to get whatever information you need, no matter where you are.

So, to get you started, here’s just a sampling of some of the better reference apps available. Most of these apps are available for both Apple devices and Android devices, but for the purposes of this article I’m going to focus on the apps for Apple devices.

First off, there’s the Wolfram Alpha app ($1.99). This app gives you full access to the Wolfram Alpha database, right from your smart phone or tablet. Among other things, you can perform complex calculations, obtain date and time zone information, convert units and measures, obtain geographical information, locate weather information and much, much more.

And, if the regular Wolfram Alpha database isn’t as legal-specific as you’d like, there’s always the Wolfram Alpha Lawyer’s Professional Assistant app ($4.99). It offers, among other things, a full legal dictionary, statutes of limitations for every state, financial computations, and investigative information, including including weather, company information, IP lookup and a blood alcohol calculator.

Next up, apps to aid in the writing process. Because lawyers write. A lot. So it’s good to know that there are a number of useful writing apps. First, there’s the Merriam Webster dictionary app (free). And, for those lawyers seeking to interpret street slang, there’s the Urban Dictionary app (free). Finally, the iThesaurus app (free) will help you find that elusive word that’s on tip of your tongue but that you just can’t access no matter how hard you try.

Now let’s move on to a language app that’s useful for lawyers representing clients who speak another language or for lawyers who simply need to translate a document. For these lawyers, the Google Translate app (free) will no doubt come in handy. Using it you can translate words and phrases from over 60 languages. For most languages you can simply speak a phrase and then hear the translation.

For access to a vast array of knowledge, there’s the Wikipanion app (free), which allows you to search the entire Wikipedia database. And, for geographical information, there’s the World Atlas HD app ($2.00) from National Geographic. Finally, Google Earth (free) is an app that allows you to virtually navigate far flung locations. Using this app you can browse 3D images of select cities, from aerial views right on down to road views.

Next, if you’re on the road and in need of a phone number or address, the White and Yellow Pages app (free) is all that you’ll need.

Also useful are two apps for medical and anatomical information: WebMD (free) and DK the Human Body ($6.99). The latter app offers a visually appealing and detailed map of human anatomy and includes over 270 full color and zoomable high resolution images.

And, last but not least, two apps that will be useful for litigators. First there’s the Recalls app (free) which, if you upgrade in-app to the Pro version for just $0.99, provides a searchable database of recalls dating back to 1969 from the FDA, the CPSC, the USDA, the EPA and the NHTSA. Finally, there’s the Weather Time Machine app ($1.99), which provides detailed weather conditions dating as far back as 1960 for over 40,000 locations across the U.S. and Canada.

So there you have it: a great assortment of reference apps to get you started. Using these apps you’ll always have the information you need right at your fingertips, no matter the time or place. After all, we live in a mobile world, so why make full use of your mobile devices and take advantage of all the reference tools and apps available.

Editor's note: this article reprinted with permission after publication in Sui Generis--a New York law blog