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Bar News - January 16, 2009

Apple iPhone: a Law Library in Your Pocket


Copyright William Hook

Most attorneys are familiar with the recent advancements in smart phone technology, including easy access to e-mail and internet features, but Apple’s recently released iPhone 3G has opened a whole new world of possibilities for practitioners looking for ways to be more productive. In addition to e-mail access to multiple accounts and fast 3G internet connectivity, the iPhone 3G comes with the Apple App Store. The App Store is a feature unique to the iPhone and allows users to download hundreds of different programs, ranging from racing games to the California Evidence Code, with most programs costing from $0 - $3.99. The less than sixth-month-old App Store is still in its infancy and already has a multitude of legally-oriented programs, utilities, and reference materials as well as several useful tools to make attorneys’ lives easier.

Some of the utilities available in the App Store, while not specifically targeted at attorneys, can be very useful for increasing productivity. To name some: timing programs that allow users to track their time and assign the time to specific clients; digital voice recorders; and language translators for nearly every language on earth.

There are also several legal reference programs available that could prove useful to attorneys. Programs like Congress + has the name and contact information for all members of the 111th congress. The Manual for the United States has the entire text of the Constitution, Federalist Papers, UN Charter, Patriot Act, Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, Articles of Confederation, and more. There are also programs for the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Appellate Procedure, Evidence, Patent Rules, and patent number lookups, as well as more regional based information, such as the California Evidence Code and the Oregon Revised Statutes.

There are news programs like the ABA Journal, Homeland Security Advisory System, and the Washington D.C. Crime Alerts, which informs users about recent crimes in their vicinities. For law students, there is Law in a Flash, which has study aid flash cards for criminal procedure, corporations, criminal law, professional responsibility, wills and trusts, and torts.

The programs already available for the iPhone, paired with the easy user interface that Apple is famous for, make it the most useful smart phone on the market for attorneys. With the App Store only getting bigger it will be interesting to see how powerful a legal tool the iPhone can actually become.

Jay Duguay is a member of the class of 2011 at Franklin Pierce Law Center.

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