Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 49 seconds

What 'Apps' Do Attorneys Really Need?

More than 1.2 million applications, or “apps,” are available at the iPhone App Store as of June 2014, according to a recent article. Compare that with October 2008, when only 800 such apps existed.

In addition to those apps, more are available for Android devices. According to the website, App Brain, more than 1.2 million apps were available for those smart devices as of June 13, 2014. While most apps probably wouldn’t help an attorney be more time-efficient or represent clients with increased competence, there are countless apps designed to provide those services, and more.

Just ask Brett Burney of Burney Consultants of Beachwood, Ohio. Burney, Chair of the 2015 ABA TECHSHOW Planning Board (April 16-18, 2015), says one of the most popular seminars of the convention is the full-day “iPad Track.”

Burney earned a law degree but does not practice law. Instead, he consults with lawyers on e-discovery and litigation support matters and trains attorneys and law firms how to use Macs, iPhones and iPads in their daily workflow.

Burney relies heavily on technology for his profession, and says there are at least three iOS apps he “can’t live without.” One, called GoodReader, is Burney’s “go-to document organizer, document viewer and PDF annotation tool. In the past, when I needed to read through a legal opinion or law review article, I would print it out and attack it with my different colored highlighters, pens, sticky notes, etc. But now, I simply send a PDF of the article to my iPad in GoodReader (usually via Dropbox) where I can open the document to highlight and underline text, add text comment boxes in the margins and use the freehand drawing tool to circle sections and jot down notes,” he says.

In addition, GoodReader can summarize all of Burney’s annotations so he can easily send the PDF to a colleague. The recipient can then review his annotations in their own PDF viewer. An added bonus is that when Burney needs to sign a PDF document, he uses PDF Expert, an app that easily allows him to add his signature and e-mail the document.

Another of Burney’s favorite apps is Keynote ($9.99 or free with a new iPad). His job calls for him to make a lot of presentations to colleagues, clients, law firms, CLE events, etc. Before discovering Keynote, Burney used to endlessly toil to create Microsoft PowerPoint files “and then schlep my laptop around. Today, I can create dynamic presentations right on the iPad in Apple’s Keynote app and flawlessly connect to a projector or wide-screen TV - wired or wirelessly - and give my presentation anytime,” he says.

Burney also recommends the Rulebook app, which is free although related rule books generally cost less than $3. “Since I spend a lot of my days doing a good amount of e-discovery consulting, I am constantly referring to the Federal and State Rules of Civil Procedure," he says. "I used to carry a tattered, dog-eared, out-of-date book of rules around in my briefcase but the Rulebook app on my iPad has completely replaced all of that. Rulebook allows me to search for a word or phrase across all of my “books” in the app and I can copy the text into an e-mail or document that I’m working on. Most importantly, Rulebook keeps everything updated via the in-app updates from the App Store so I know I’ve got the most recent information,” he explains.

For Yaritza Delorenzo, co-founder of BusySuperVA, smart phone apps help keep her hectic schedule and bevy of responsibilities organized. Her Florida-based firm offers support services to a variety of professionals, including lawyers, and the apps Delorenzo uses to keep her and her company on-track could be beneficial to attorneys, too.

For example, Delorenzo utilizes a payroll processing app, one for billing and yet another for her personal finances. Her banking app allows her to pay her virtual staff virtually and the app for her cloud-based filing system makes it easy for her to tap into client files and reports.

Delorenzo often clicks on a chat app to communicate with her staff quickly. She does this when a client contacts her with an inquiry and she needs to discuss the matter with a staffer immediately. In order for a smart phone to be a trusted business partner, the user “must have the right technology in place,” says Delorenzo, who owns SuperVA with her sister.

She says she often sees “business owners not utilizing the right technology and if they do use it, they use it incorrectly.” When that happens, people aren’t reaping the benefits of technology. That situation can cause frustration and hamper the success of a business entity, she says.

Other useful apps for attorneys include:

Quickbooks, a cloud-based accounting app for iPhone and Android models used by 1.3 million customers worldwide;

Dropbox is a popular cloud-storage system for files and photos. The free version offers 18GB of storage; additional space is available for a fee;

Evernote is a note-taking and bookmarking app compatible with nearly every PC, phone and mobile device;

Documents to Go is an all-inclusive app that supports Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, PDFs and other files and attachments. It is available for Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

WebEx allows users to schedule attend and host virtual meetings in HD video anywhere in the world. It’s also useful for webinars and file-sharing;

Google Wallet is a fast, secure way for customers to make payments online. Delorenzo is a big fan of apps because they simplify her business and personal lives.

“I can be on the go any time of the day because I’ve spent a lot of time organizing my two most important assets, staff and technology,” Delorenzo says.

Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and writer.

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