The vast majority of Americans - 77 percent - own a smartphone. Indeed, one in 10 American adults use their smartphone as their primary means of accessing the internet. For lawyers, mobile use is even greater. According to the American Bar Association's (ABA) Legal Technology Survey in 2016, 93 percent of attorneys surveyed report using a smartphone and, in fact, 70 percent report using a smartphone to do legal work while still at the office.
Reliance on our smartphones is now the norm. There are even attorneys that have gone so far as to ditch all other devices and rely solely on a smartphone or tablet to practice law. While you need not go to those lengths (at least in the near future), you can use your smartphone for a number of practice-related tasks.
Fortunately, there is no lack of applications available for your smartphone. Currently, there are approximately 2.5 million apps available each for Android and Apple users. Let me help you narrow down your selections by suggesting a few applications to boost your productivity on the go. This list is based on a presentation I gave at ABA TECHSHOW 2017.
Microsoft Office and G-Suite
Microsoft and Google make their office applications for both Android and iOS users alike. If you use dictation, drafting on a mobile device works quite well. Price: Free (with premium/business level services options).
Store your documents in the cloud? With Dropbox on your mobile device, you can access your documents from wherever you are. Price: Free (with premium/business level services options).
Known as a note-taking application, Evernote is essentially a tool for remembering everything. With its mobile app, you can quickly save notes and images, access existing notes, save web pages for reference, and scan and save business cards. Evernote syncs to the cloud and thus all this information is available whenever and wherever you need it. Price: Free (with premium/business level services options).
This simple scanning app for iOS allows you to scan business cards, receipts, and documents as well as scan multi-page documents to create a single PDF. Scannable automatically crops and adjusts lighting. You can save scans directly to your phone or upload to cloud storage services. Scannable does not apply optical character recognition (OCR), unless it is uploaded to Evernote, which then applies OCR. Price: Free.
This app, available for Android and iOS, is similar to Scannable, but will apply OCR to most documents. It can also split facing book pages into two separate images, removing defects and straightening curved text lines. Price: Free (with premium options).
This iPad-only app made by Lit Software is one of the most popular apps for trial attorneys. You can organize, annotate, and present evidence using your iPad in court. Lit Software also makes DocReviewPad and Transcript Pad for the iPad. Price: $129.99 (one-time fee).
Ever spent hours trying to get through to customer service? Sometimes it can be nearly impossible to get someone live on the phone to help. This app provides information and instructions for accessing customer service for many companies. Price: Free.
If you drive and park in a major city, you need to try out this app. Spot Hero will locate parking spots nearby, which you can then compare and book online. Oftentimes, Spot Hero provides a discount when you book and pay online. Available in 40 U.S. cities. Price: Free.
Hate the tediousness of capturing mileage for business purposes? This app can automatically capture every mile you drive with its drive detection feature. As soon as you start moving, MileIQ will prompt you to classify your trip as business or personal with a very simple swipe gesture (as to not distract you). MileIQ also provides reports and integrations with accounting programs. Price: Free (with premium options).
Hours Time Tracking
Need a way to track your time on the go? This simple app can help. You can create multiple timers for different tasks and projects (i.e. matters). Hours Time Tracking will export to a PDF, CSV, or create a link to a web report. Price: Free (with premium options).
You didn't go to law school to do math. Or, at least that's what you thought. Budgeting is essential to run a business. Pennies is an iOS app for people that don't like budgeting. You can add expenses and budgets, set daily targets, and receive valuable insight based on your purchasing history. Price: Free.
If you use strong and unique passwords to reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your data, you'll need a way to keep track of all your passwords. This password manager, an encrypted cloud-based data repository, requires only one master password to access all your passwords. You can also store other important information in this secure vault, including social security numbers, software licenses, membership data, notes, and more. Although available for both Android and iOS, this app is most popular among Apple users. Price: Starting at $2.99 per month.
LastPass is another password manager. Its features are comparable to 1Password. Price: Free (with premium options).
Worried about unauthorized access to your audio, video, or text chats? Signal, an open source app, continues to be touted as one of the best apps for encrypted audio, video, and text communication. Signal is not a business; it operates on grants and donations, and therefore contains no advertisements. Price: Free.
Managing multiple social media accounts for marketing purposes can be time consuming. Spend less time by using Buffer. Buffer connects multiple social media accounts (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest) to then schedule information that you wish to share. Price: Free (with premium options).
Lawyers are terrible at taking breaks. But, if you don't take breaks you will burn out. Keep up your energy by taking a break to breathe or meditate with this app. Calm provides daily mediation (guided and unguided), breathing exercises, and even sleep stories to help you fall asleep at night. Use this app's timer feature to remind you to take a break. Price: Free (with premium options).
Keep hearing about the benefits of mediation but don't know where to start? This is a great beginner meditation app, starting with 10-minute meditation sessions and fun animations to keep you motivated. This app will track your sessions and provide other helpful statistics. Price: Free (with premium options).
Heidi S. Alexander, Esq. is the director of Practice Management Services for Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, where she advises lawyers on practice management matters, provides guidance in implementing new law office technologies, and helps lawyers develop healthy and sustainable practices. She frequently makes presentations to the legal community and contributes to publications on law practice management and technology. She is the author of the ABA Law Practice Division's, Evernote as a Law Practice Tool, and serves on the ABA's TECHSHOW Planning Board. Heidi previously practiced at a small firm and owned a technology consulting business. She also clerked for a justice on the highest court of New Jersey and served as the editor-in-chief of the Rutgers Law Review. She is a native Minnesotan, former collegiate ice hockey goaltender for the Amherst College Women's Ice Hockey Team, and mother of three young children.