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Government LawyersThe newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Government Lawyers

March 2013, vol. 14, no. 3

Did you get a new iPhone or iPad for Christmas?

Hey—did you get that new iPhone or new iPad that you’ve been longing for? If you did, there’s an application or program (referred to as an “app”) for just about anything you can dream of that you can install on your device. Because cost is a factor for many government lawyers, young lawyers, or any of us really, it is important to know that there are many “free” apps available that can be downloaded and installed on your device. These apps include, but are not limited to: navigation, fitness, sports, entertainment, books, education, medical, food and drink, games, music, and legal applications.

Because lawyers are interested in legal research, I can recommend two free legal research apps for the iPhone or iPad devices. The first one is WestlawNext, which you can install on your device. You must, however, have a WestlawNext subscription to use this app. Assuming you have a subscription, the app works just like the program on your desktop computer, but it properly sizes and formats it for your device. This app allows you to do your work at any comfortable location, i.e. Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. If you are a Lexis subscriber, Lexis has an app called “Lexis Advance,” which operates similarly.

However, if you do not have a paid subscription to either WestlawNext or Lexis, fear not. There is a free app for legal research that the ISBA has, in fact, endorsed. That research program is “Fastcase.” From your new device, go to the “App Store” icon and hit the search button. Then type in “fastcase.” Once you see the “Fastcase” icon, hit the install button. This takes a few minutes to install on your device. Once it’s on your device, you’re ready to use it. The program allows you to have at your disposal case law from all 50 states and the federal courts. As with other legal research computer programs, one can search by case citation, keyword (Boolean or natural language), or by statute citation. Fastcase for the iPhone or iPad allows the user to sort the most relevant results to the top of the list and customize the search results. If you download and use this app you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to use and it really produces fast results. Hence, the name. Try it, you’ll like it!!

Lastly, there are two other apps that I recommend that are non-law related. How many times have you left your office or home at night and you could use a flashlight? How many times have you been seated in a dimly lit restaurant and can’t read the menu without a flashlight? How many times have you been at a concert or play and can’t read the program without a light? So you could use a flashlight, right? Thus, this first app I recommend is for a flashlight app. From the App Store, go to the search button and type in “flashlight.” There are a number of free apps that all are good. The one that I have used is “Flashlight.” It is easy to use and the light is incredibly bright.

Finally, the second non-law related app that should be considered, and that I recommend, is described in this scenario: How many times in the restaurant after the bill comes, do you have trouble calculating the “tip” for the server. Further, in a party of five, how do you split the bill? Does it include a split of the tip? Well, you guessed it, there’s an app for that, too. From the App Store icon, access the search button and key in “tip calculator.” You should find a lot of apps, including the free ones. The one I use (it’s a fee one) is called “Checkplease.” The app calculates the tip according to the percentage you want used and provides for the tip to be rounded or not, and also allows the total bill to be rounded. Further, this app allows you to divide the total bill, including the tip between the number of diners in your party. I love this app as I always want to round the total bill to even dollars and this app allows me to calculate the tip and the total in seconds.

The apps discussed in this article are just a few examples of the hundreds of thousands of apps that are available for your device. Because many of those apps are for purchase, I have focused on the “free apps” for this article. If you have recently received an iPhone or iPad, or have an older generation of these devices, try some of these free apps. It will make your life easier and more enjoyable!! ■


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