I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season, taking a little well-earned respite from the chaos that is December. For me, it means having some time to put together my set of New Year’s resolutions that I’ll ignore approximately 31 hours into the new year. It also means taking some time to write more articles, and putting together my next installment of the Best New Apps for Lawyers. So here are the best apps, released or receiving a significant update, from December 2013:
Legal professionals are gradually gaining an understanding of how useful project management tools and software can be in a law firm. By allowing a project manager or leader to track various elements of a project from planning through completion, they have a better handle of how a project is moving along and where additional resources should be committed. These tools can be incredibly effective for a legal professional utilizing associates, paralegals, and technical staff to work on different parts of one client’s case.
Enter Project OnePage 5. This app provides the 30,000 foot view of all active projects that a manager has running at any single time. Utilizing a 12×12 approach (12 total tasks and 12 time slots per project), OnePage gives the project manager a broad overview of each project that is pending, restricting your attention to only the most important information and preventing you from getting lost in the details and minutia. Ideal for providing timely updates to your clients about their matters, this app gives you a broad look at all pending projects in one page.
Medly by AppBrew, LLC, free.
For any attorney that has to review medical records or depose any health care professionals, I’d say this app is an absolute must-have. Medly is a collection of over 2,900 medical abbreviations and their meanings. With an eye for accuracy, all abbreviations are screened by a health care advisor before inclusion, and the collection is frequently reviewed to guarantee only the most up-to-date definitions.
However, a list of definitions does little to differentiate Medly from its competitors, right? True, but it’s not in the list of definitions that Medly distinguishes itself. Medly has an advanced search tool that allows you to search either for a particular abbreviation, or to perform a reverse search of the definitions themselves. With a built-in “swipe to copy” function, users can easily paste the abbreviation and definition into a document, text message, email, social media post, or any other text-based app on their phone.
DoItTogether by James Carrico, $0.99.
Managing a to-do list can be enough of a chore as an attorney. Managing a to-do list that involves a bunch of other people can be near impossible. However, for effectively managing a law practice, it’s also essential. DoItTogether wants to make sure you’ll never have trouble managing that list again.
Updated in real-time, you’re able to sync your to-do list with multiple people across multiple devices. Whenever you assign a particular task to another user, the task is immediately pushed to their device, where they are prompted to accept or decline the task. Once accepted, the task is added to the list, including identification of the person now responsible for the task. Once the task is completed, all users with access to the list will receive a real-time update that the task is finished. Recent updates include the ability to mark tasks as private, limiting access and visibility of specified lists to whichever contacts you like. Want to create a grocery list that the other attorneys can’t see? Limit access only to your spouse, whichever of you gets to the store first can check off the list as you go.
CourtDial for iPhone by Mary Der-Parseghian APC, free, $4.99 for complete package.
It’s truly rare for me to come across an app that directly and completely addresses a specific problem I’ve had in my practice. Most apps are designed to be broad-based, attempting to reel in users from many different areas. CourtDial gets right to the point.
Courthouse information, whether it’s the name of the clerk, the correct phone number for the civil division, or the address for the courthouse itself, is available in one click. You can even open up the location in your phone’s map.
NOTE: This app currently supports only information for the State of California. I’m BEGGING them to include other states, including North Carolina, in the app.
Cal for Android by Any.do, free.
Made by the creative team that brought us the Any.do to-do app, Cal for Android utilizes the same innovative thinking and processing, giving you a calendar that is really much more than just a calendar. Fully integrated with Any.do’s to-do list, Cal integrates your full task list into your calendar. Cal will also pull your events from Google, Outlook, and Yahoo calendars. But that’s not all…
Pull up Cal for Android, and it will tell you what the best times to schedule events, meetings, etc. based on a review of your current schedule. Need to figure out a place to meet? Cal will offer a list of suggestions for nearby locations. Cal even tells you when you need to leave your office in order to get to your next appointment on time by evaluating real-time traffic information.
Quip by Quip, Inc., free.
The ultimate collaborative word-processing software is now available for Android! Users are able to access, review, and edit documents from a wide variety of word processors right on their Android device. Use the news feed portion of each document to track EVERY SINGLE EDIT to the document, and identify which users made the edits.
So what, don’t a lot of word processor apps do that? Sure, but Quip doesn’t stop there. Each document you open has a messenger window that allows you to chat with other users about the document, and cloud-based storage for keeping your documents. Even set up notifications to stay informed about all changes, updates or edits made to each of the documents stored online. If you draft documents in collaboration with other people, this app is a must have.
Let’s face it, if Pope Francis hadn’t been Time’s Person of the Year, Edward Snowden probably would have been. Has a single whistleblower revealed as much about our government’s complete indifference about personal privacy and the rule of law? Since the NSA revelations started trickling out, software and network engineers have been feverishly designing new applications to increase personal security and privacy. Among the most recent is Dolphin Zero.
Billing itself as a mobile browser that allows users to use the internet in a “Do-Not-Track” mode, Dolphin Zero attempts to give users the comforts of technology AND privacy at the same time. (Novel, I know.) Dolphin Zero allows users to effectively block most of the traditional ways that users’ activity on the internet is tracked. You can completely turn off tracking cookies, prevent the browser from storing passwords, and even destroying all input data, users will enjoy one of the most private, secure experiences available.
While it probably won’t protect you from all tracking (remember: this only blocks standard tracking tools), Dolphin Zero will provide considerably more secure mobile browsing than most other services.
Continuing my theme of free Android apps, we move to Android Device Manager. Described as Google’s answer to Apple’s “Where’s My Phone” app, Android Device Manager allows you to track the location of your Android device through it’s built-in GPS system. Given how important confidentiality and security SHOULD be for lawyers, if you use an Android device for ANY of your work (including just basic email), you should get Android Device Manager.
Although your control is limited to times when your device is turned on, there are two incredibly useful tools that every attorney should utilize when necessary. The first is the ability to remotely lock the device until it can be found. This feature ensures that if you’re able to recover your device, none of the information contained therein will be accessible in the mean time. The second is the ability to wipe the device’s memory. A last resort, obviously, but a very useful tool in the event your device has been stolen. It’s MUCH better to be out a couple hundred bucks and have to buy a new device than a couple thousand on defending yourself from an ethics complaint!
Did I miss anything?