June 14, 2011
I was recently approached to try out West’s new “Legal Projects” app for the Apple iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad, and then maybe write something about it on the Westlaw Insider blog.
Ironically, I had been looking for just such an app for the past few months, and so I was happy to give it a test drive (I probably would have downloaded it as soon as I found out about it anyhow).
I wanted something like this for awhile because, as any attorney will tell you, your job revolves around deadlines: deadlines from the court, from clients, from the opposing party, from another attorney at your firm, etc.
As such, I really wanted an app that could keep all of my legal deadlines straight.
It didn’t have to be legal-themed, but that would be a nice bonus.
This app does a great job keeping my deadlines straight, and it’s designed for lawyers, so it’s able to keep all kinds of legal info that other apps don’t.
As a quick disclaimer, I’m using the iPad version. I don’t own an iPhone, so I can’t directly speak to any features exclusive to that device.
As far as I can tell, though, the only feature exclusive to the iPhone version is the ability to call a West Reference Attorney straight from the app (but seeing as how the iPad version still gives the number, it’s unimportant).
The interface is fairly no-frills, meaning that there aren’t a bunch of graphics, animations, or other bells and whistles embedded in the app.
I greatly prefer this, since the last thing I want to do is mess around with oversized graphics that are both distracting and unprofessional-looking.
The interface’s simplicity is also very intuitive.
It’s very easy to enter a new project, and, in addition to the name and due date, you can add the project’s client/matter #, what the outcome of the project is (i.e. email, memo, motion, letter, etc), and who the audience of that outcome is (client, partner, court, etc).
That’s just the overview information. Every project also has a page on which you can enter more detailed information.
This page lets you enter info such as jurisdiction, cost restraints, and time restraints, and there’s also a catch-all “Additional Notes” field.
Being a West product, the details page also has lots of fields for entering research notes and references.
There’s also a handy button in the lower left corner that just takes you directly into WestlawNext, just in case you don’t have anything cited yet in your notes.
The app has also obviously been optimized for sharing case and project information.
There are options to both email a project file through the native email app on the device, and export it directly to another device through Bluetooth.
And if you’re one of those people that uses the Calendar app built in to your device, there’s an option to export your project deadlines to your calendar.
Overall, this is a great app.
Even if you don’t have a subscription to Westlaw, I would recommend getting it.
It’s well worth the $1.99, and there are far more expensive organizers out there that aren’t half as easy to use.
Staying organized and on top of deadlines is paramount in the legal profession, and this app seems like it’s been designed with just that purpose in mind.