Top Five iPhone Apps for Lawyers

Ultimate productivity is gained when you can take your business with you and your law practice should be no different.

If you have an iPhone, you can get a sufficient amount of work done in between meetings, while traveling or even when you are on vacation with your family (just don’t let them in on that little piece of information!) if you harness the power of the app. This post will explore the top five iPhone apps for lawyers and will encourage you to start thinking of mobile possibilities immediately.

1. Dropbox App for the iPhone

Dropbox is an amazing service that allows you to store and organize files online. Users can then access these files via their computer, the Dropbox website or their mobile phones. Plus, you can share the folders with your staff to create a central place from which to access files. What does this mean for you and why is this in the top five iPhone apps for lawyers? No more scrambling for attachments in your e-mail inbox and no more multiple copies of the same file on every device you own. Simply setup your free Dropbox account, upload your files and access them anywhere.

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For more on Dropbox and why it is a must-have for attorneys, check out Randall Ryder’s post here on Lawyerist: “Use Dropbox to Manage Your Files.”

Learn more | App price: free!

2. MiniBooks for Freshbooks

Freshbooks is quickly become the invoicing and time tracking tool on the Internet. With the ability to track time to the minute, send invoices based on tracked time and the ability to send both electronic and paper versions of your invoices, it is your one-stop shop as far as time tracking and billing is concerned. MiniBooks for Freshbooks allows you to track time from wherever you are, send an invoice from your iPhone and view important client data, all from the palm of your hand. While the price tag may seem a little steep for an iPhone app, this app will more than earn its worth.

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For more on Freshbooks and why lawyers will benefit from this tool, check out this post from Sam Glover: “Freshbooks: My Gold Standard for Timekeeping and Billing.”

Learn more | App price: $14.99

3. JotNot’s Scanner Pro

Scanner Pro turns your iPhone into a document and image scanner. Simply use the camera to take a photo of the document you need to send via e-mail or fax and Scanner Pro will convert it into an electronic copy instantly. The app is fairly easy to use and intuitive but you do need to have a steady hand if you want the quality of your documents to be worth the investment.

If you are going to use the app for non-public purposes, JotNot also offers Scanner Pro Free where you can download the app for free but the app inserts an advertisement on the first page of your document. The free version definitely won’t work if you are using this to scan and share important documents but for more casual sharing, it would work just fine.

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Learn more | App price: $0.99

4. Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Edition

Yes, you read that correctly. One of the leading ‘bibles’ for the legal world is now available on the iPhone. Never mind that it has a hefty price tag, it is seriously worth every penny. The dictionary includes more than 45,000 terms, alternate spellings and expressions. Essentially, this app becomes your “back pocket legal assistant” which you can ¬†use to ensure you never miss a legal beat. Our list of the top five iPhone apps for lawyers would not have been complete without this one being mentioned.

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Learn more | App price: $54.99

5. Sign-n-Send

Lawyers sign a lot of documents. Until recently, there hasn’t been an easy way to sign documents while you are out of your office. Enter Sign-n-Send. Sign-n-Send allows you to digitally sign documents (PDFs and Word documents) that are received into your e-mail inbox and send those signed documents to a recipient with ease. Documents are stored and shared via an encrypted server so that you do not need to worry about the safety of your signature on the content you are sharing.

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For an in-depth look at Sign-n-Send, check out Randall Ryder’s post on Lawyerist: “Add Text and Signatures to Documents on Your iPhone.”

Learn more | App price: $1.99

Want more technology goodness?

For those of you that may not have an iPhone, check out Randall Ryder’s post here on Lawyerist.com: “Best Smartphone Apps for Attorneys.”

If you have an iPhone and use it for your legal practice, what is an app that we are missing from the list of the top five iPhone apps for lawyers? Post it as a comment!

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  • http://www.coyelaw.com Wade Coye

    Thank you for this helpful review! The staff at our office has recently begun using as much technology in disability claims as possible in order to make the process easier and more efficient for clients, the courts, and ourselves. I will certainly be looking further into these apps to see how they may continue to increase the benefits.

    • http://erinblaskie.com/ Erin Blaskie

      Wade, thank you so much for commenting! I am glad you found the article helpful :) – Erin

  • http://bradykrissesq.com Brady Kriss

    I would put a strong caveat on your recommendation of Dropbox. While drop box is a very convenient service, it has some security issues that should be taken into consideration if you are using it to store or access any confidential or sensitive information. If you do still want to use the Dropbox service, you should really encrypt the files you store there, which admittedly cuts down on the usefulness of the iPhone app.
    For one explanation of one of the security problems – where a hacker or phisher could get access to your whole Dropbox account without you knowing – check out this blog’s coverage: http://dereknewton.com/2011/04/dropbox-authentication-static-host-ids/

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      Red herring!

      • http://bradykrissesq.com Brady Kriss

        Sorry, why is this a red herring?

        • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

          If the exploit depends on someone having (1) physical access to your computer; and (2) fairly high-level technical know-how, it’s should not be much of a concern. Anyone with physical access to your computer (or office, for that matter) and zero technical know-how can do a lot more damage without touching your Dropbox configuration files.

          Think cleaners, summer associates, volunteers, children, etc.

          Solos who already secure their computers should have nothing to worry about. Small firms with good security and confidentiality practices likewise have nothing to worry about. Medium and large firms can probably find alternatives to Dropbox that work better at their scale.

          • http://bradykrissesq.com Brady Kriss

            All I’m saying is that there are some issues that have recently been brought up in some circles, and that people should be aware of them. Using a cloud service – any cloud service – comes with some level of security risk for users. Being able to access your documents from many devices means that there are that many more points of entry for someone trying to access your documents for their own purposes. Lawyers handling sensitive information, and lawyers involved in tooth-and-nail litigation should be aware of the security vulnerabilities of whatever service they use. And since Dropbox has recently hit the news on this issue, I thought it might be helpful to point people in the direction of some of that news, if they are interested.

            • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

              I agree people should be aware of any and all security and privacy issues with the software they choose to use. I do not think this issue is a reason to use Dropbox, if it is even an issue at all. Someone with access to your computer’s files can—by definition—access the files on it. They can also install spyware, malware, Trojans, and more. The fact that this is also true with Dropbox should be obvious.

              • http://bradykrissesq.com Brady

                Hi,
                I’m back with another thumbs down on Dropbox. Another security problem has hit the web today – http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2674369 . There’s no official verification aside from the email thread in that post, but supposedly Dropbox had a momentary glitch which allowed a person to log into anyone’s dropbox account online, with or without a password.
                I have no problem with cloud storage in general, I just personally don’t trust Dropbox. There’ve been a series of concerns about their security – differences between what they claim to do in terms of securing files, and what they ultimately provide.

                I have had a good experience with JungleDisk, which also now has an iPhone app – https://www.jungledisk.com/iphone_app_backup_share_files_manage_data_view_documents/default.aspx – which looks nice, though I haven’t tried it much. And I haven’t heard the same security concerns voiced about JungleDisk.

                • http://lawyerist.com/author/aaronstreet/ Aaron Street

                  If it’s true, that would be a huge problem.

                  Since we’re (mostly) all lawyers here, it seems a little premature to assume this story is true, given that the only evidence so far is one copy-and-pasted (and edited) text from a purported email exchange.

  • http://ethicsmaven.com/ Eric Cooperstein

    I’m with Sam. By analogy to the Derek Newton post about someone “getting access” (i.e. stealing) your config.db file, you really shouldn’t have keys to your office, because if someone takes your keys, then they have access to everything in your office. In fact, for most petty theives, stealing your keys would probably be easier than getting access to your config.db file.

    If someone steals your keys, change the locks. The problem was not with the keys or the office.

  • http://bradykrissesq.com Brady Kriss

    Perhaps we can agree to disagree about what appropriate security precautions are for attorney files.
    Perhaps we can agree that I am overly cautious…

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      I think the greater danger is that many attorneys (I’m not saying you are one, since I have no idea) think that by staying out of “the cloud” they are keeping their client’s files secure. Posts like Derek Newton’s distract attorneys from the real problems. Few attorneys bother to lock their file cabinets, to say nothing of using strong passwords, good backup, or file encryption.

      If you don’t have strong passwords, good backup, and encrypted files, you are probably far better off storing your client files in the cloud. If you are on top of those things, then it may make sense to start talking about whether there are more-secure alternatives to Dropbox (there definitely are). But I am on top of all those things, and reasonably well-informed about the security issues of the various services I use, and I’m not very worried about this particular flaw.

  • Lance

    I notice the use of Freshbooks for online time tracking. I use Harvest and am wondering if anyone can provide a useful comparison of the two.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      I can’t, but I’ve looked at it, and looks like perfectly good time and billing software. I know Karin Conroy use it and loves it, so you might want to contact her, or check in with her in the LAB.

    • http://bradykrissesq.com Brady

      I used to use Freshbooks, but the interface just bugged me. I couldn’t ever get it to do what I wanted, and my invoice numbers got all messed up.
      I currently use Harvest, and I really like it. I find it to be pretty intuitive and easy to use. And I dig the Reports. They’re a good visual way for me to keep track of what I’m spending my time on.

  • John

    I just went solo and was talking to someone just last night about this. I am glad to see some if his recommendations were shared here. One obvious missing app is one for law. I am using fastcase for free legal look-ups when on the road.

  • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

    No system is foolproof. Everything—from your physical office to your client files in the cloud—can be compromised.

    What you should be concerned with is how well the service provider handles any such issues, and how often they happen. Does the company acknowledge the problem and take steps to correct it as soon as possible? That’s ideal. Does it keep quiet about the problem, but fix it quickly? That’s acceptable. Does it keep quiet, and take forever to fix it? Find something else.

    Assuming this new Dropbox breach turns out to be true, let’s see what happens.

    As to the alternatives, I think they are all likely to share similar problems. The question really is whether you are comfortable putting your data in the cloud. If you are, you are going to have to trust your provider, even as you must know that problems will happen with any provider. If you aren’t, then you’d better be competent enough to provide your own security.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      Well, there you go: http://blog.dropbox.com/?p=821

      • http://bradykrissesq.com Brady

        I think it is good that Dropbox is admitting that they were not requiring passwords for login to any account for four hours, and that they are addressing the situation. For me, the fact that this happened at all is a symptom of Dropbox’s substandard security. I agree that there is some risk with any cloud provider – there just seems to be more of a risk with Dropbox.

        • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

          What evidence is there that Dropbox has “substandard security?” I’m aware of two issues. This one, and the authentication file “exploit” that you mentioned earlier that is apparenty a common feature across file sync utilities. What else?

  • http://www.vignature.com Kelly Spradley

    May I humbly suggest the Vignature app? Like Sign-n-Send, it allows for you to sign documents “on the go” but your signature is verifiable because it contains your image. Your photograph is taken in real time as you “tap to sign” the document. Please give it a try – the Vignature app for iPhone 4 and iPad 2 is free.

  • http://www.marlowelegal.com Keith M

    Thanks for the above recommendations. I just switched to an iPhone after being a longtime Blackberry user and I couldn’t be more pleased (though it was a tough choice between the iPhone and the Droid).

    Dropbox is great and the iPhone app is very good (most apps are almost useless on a Blackberry). In fact, I started using Dropbox almost 2 years ago after reading about it here. As a transactional lawyer, Dropbox has been invaluable and now with the iPhone app it is even better as I can get docs even if I am without my laptop.

  • http://fedctrecords.com/ Jon Oldfather

    Your readers might also want to know about the apps FedCtRecords and FedCtBank.
    These applications allow the effective use of the pacer.gov website from an iphone or ipad. FedCtRecords accesses federal district court records and FedCtBank offers access to bankruptcy court records.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      The complete lack of design sense by most legal software peddlers is a constant source of amazement to me. These apps are ugly.