Thomson Retuers ProView: The legal eReader app we’ve been waiting for

December 12, 2011

Proview app iconOne of the primary justifications I used in purchasing my iPad was that it would be a great boon to me as an attorney.

However, I’ve struggled with the question of how it benefits me in that capacity – partly because I’m often asked it by others.

In fact, I’ve struggled with it so much that I’ve been actively trying to integrate it into my practice.

Although I can’t complain about the results – more organized contacts and calendars, better tabs on deadlines, quick access to various court documents scanned as PDFs, etc – it still feels like there should be something more I could leverage out of the iPad.

Specifically, with the great prevalence of eReaders on mobile platforms, I felt that there should be one especially for law books.

Apparently, Thomson Reuters felt the same way, since its new ProView app is just that: an eReader for Thomson Reuters law books.

I’ve been waiting for an app like this for one big reason.

When going to court, it’s very important to have statutes and other law right in front of you.

Unfortunately, that usually means either having to lug a sizeable book around with you and flip through until you find what you’re looking for, or trying to collect authorities that you anticipate you’ll need beforehand, which is added work and you always end up forgetting something important.

ProView Screenshot 1

ProView combines the best aspects of those two practices and makes it all electronic.

First, it contains the entire book you need, so don’t have to worry about forgetting something.

Second, ProView lets you place bookmarks and highlight text within the eBook itself, and with the app’s ability to immediately view all and jump to any of your bookmarks and highlights instantly, you can find the information you want quickly.

The annotations function works in the same way: you can add notes to highlighted text, and immediately jump to it from a pop-up menu.

In addition, in case you need to look something up that you didn’t mark out beforehand, there are easily-accessible search and table of contents functions.

Yes, nearly all eReaders have these, but it’s especially useful in situations where you need to look up a statute in a hurry.
Actually, not only can you view your eBooks on the ProView website, but all of your bookmarks, highlights, and annotations automatically share over between the website and the app.

On the other hand, a feature ProView has that many eReaders don’t is the ability to view your eBooks on the web.

Okay, so does it have any problems?

Really, the only thing that disappoints me about the app is a result of its newness: its eBook selection is somewhat limited.

There are 23 eBooks currently available, with most of them being about various court rules and procedure for a handful of jurisdictions (if you practice in Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio, or Texas, I envy you).

ProView Screenshot 2The other eBooks are either subject matter specific (i.e. Adventures in Electronic Discovery) or about the legal profession/law practice guides (i.e. social.lawyers: Transforming Business Development), which, while still very practical, are a bit more enjoyable to read than rulebooks.

I should also mention the availability of two book samples in case you’re like me and don’t want to pay for the car before you test drive it (but you really should at least test drive this thing).

Lastly, the fact that Thomson Reuters actually put the resources into developing this app means that we’re going to be seeing a lot more Thomson Reuters Westlaw publications in electronic format going forward, which is definitely a good thing.

As enthusiastic as I am about ProView right now, I’m going to be even more so when I can get my hands on statute, court rules, and practice guide eBooks for my jurisdiction.