When I think back about 13 years when I began practicing law it seems hard to comprehend how quickly technology has advanced in just this past decade. There were no smart phones when I was a new lawyer,. Most of us had cell phones which were simply that—a cell phone used to make and receive calls. I also had a “Palm” which was considered advanced technology at the time. I remember the Palm being a great tool to keep my calendar, but I did not imagine how soon it would be replaced with something that could calendar, e-mail, take photos, shoot videos, text, tweet, link in and update what has become known as ones “status.”
Facebook did not exist. My friends were really my friends, and I did not have personal knowledge that an acquaintance I had not seen since high school had over-achieving children and was having sushi for dinner.
E-mail was rarely used for business communications. I remember opening my hotmail account in 1998 with the help of a secretary in my office who thought I should have an e-mail account. At that time, I was not sure if it was necessary or would even be useful. Looking back now, the time it took to write formal letters, the cost for postage and the time delay via first class mail to get information to a client seems unimaginable in this day and age of instant communication.
In April 2010, the iPad was introduced into the United States, and it has become a common sight to see attorneys with their iPad both in and out of the courthouse. The iPad is great for reading books, magazines, newspapers, and articles. It is great for playing games, taking notes, storing documents and photos, surfing the Web, keeping your calendar and e-mail. It is great for watching the news or a movie or that television show that you missed. It is great for planning a vacation or keeping track of income, expenses, Groupons, calories, and shopping lists. There are so many uses and everyone individualizes their own iPad by downloading apps of their choosing from the App Store, many of them free. As my list indicates, I have found many useful applications for the iPad both in and outside of my practice and highlight below some of my most most frequently used iPad Apps:
FASTCASE: The Fastcase App (free) provides portable access to the entire Fastcase law library and legal research system, is entirely free—no ISBA membership required. This app provides legal research results quickly at the touch of the screen. When you are in a courtroom and need to review one more case or statute or look up a case that the opposing counsel is spouting about—this is the answer-last-minute legal research right in the courtroom.
SQUARE: The Square App (free) allows you to accept credit cards with your iPad or iPhone. You register with the website and then receive a free card reader that plugs into an iPhone or iPad. You plug in the reader and swipe a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover card and payment is deposited into your bank account and a receipt is e-mailed to you and/or your client. There are no monthly fees but you are charged a fee for each credit card transaction. This will allow you to be paid by those clients who meet you at the courthouse but “forget” their checkbook.
EVERNOTE: The Evernote App (free) is a very popular and useful information storage application. This app allows you to organize various types of information from several different sources into one central location. You can clip web pages and archive them for later reference, store screen shots, photos and text notes, all within Evernote’s customizable storage system. Evernote will also organize things for you by the date which the note or other document was created, by category, or by name.
PAGES: The Pages App (not free) is a great word processor that was designed for the iPad. You can create, edit, and view documents wherever you are. This app comes with 16 templates to create letters, reports, flyers, cards, pleadings, etc. This app automatically stores your documents to iCloud so that you can retrieve them from any devise.
FLIPBOARD: The Flipboard App (free) is a customized magazine-style way to browse the web for categories of news that you have selected. The news is being updated continuously. You can choose from many categories to fill the (16) Flipboard panes. You can choose categories such as business, current events, gardening, design, financial, exercise, nutrition, travel, and sports, or even your Facebook and Twitter accounts as part of your Flipboard.
LAWBOX: The Lawbox App (free) is a legal reference application that provides access to the text of the United States Code and statutes from several states, including Illinois. This comes in handy when you are in court and need to quote from or review a statute.
ABA JOURNAL: The ABA Journal App (free) provides current legal news and articles that are featured in the ABA Journal.
ZINO: The Zino App (free) is a magazine reader that delivers full-color images of thousands of magazines. After purchasing a subscription, each new edition is delivered to your device.
LOSE IT!: The Lose It! App (free) is an application that allows you to set a goal which will establish a daily calorie budget. You log in the foods that you eat and exercise that you do and the daily graph will help keep you within your budget. This app will also keep track of protein, fat, carbohydrates and other nutrients, as well as e-mail you a detailed report each week with your progress.
iBOOKS: The iBook app (free and built into the iPad 2) allows you to read books purchased from Apple’s iBookstore, but it is also a great way to read PDFs. For example, you can download the pdf for this newsletter and press the button that says ‘open in iBooks’ and it will be added to your bookshelf. Once it is in your bookshelf, you can flip through the pages of the newsletter even if you aren’t online. Also works great for ISBA Fastbooks!
As we have all heard by now, Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder and longtime leader of Apple, recently passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer. I believe every newspaper in the nation announced his death on their front pages. Steve Jobs is surely missed, and we can all agree that the world has changed because of Steve Jobs. Certainly, my ability to be more productive, efficient, and responsive in my practice is in part because of his innovations. ■