Thomson Reuters Westlaw Portfolio: Great stuff on a free app

November 16, 2011

Westlaw PortfolioLast week, Westlaw Portfolio was released for the Apple iPad.

Unlike many of Thomson Reuters’s other apps, the app’s title isn’t self-explanatory on the app’s function and purpose.

Thus, having known nothing about the app prior to downloading it, I had no idea what I was getting into.

Luckily, it’s free and relatively small, so there was minimal risk in trying out the app.

Anyhow, Thomson Reuters Westlaw Portfolio is essentially a magazine app for the Westlaw Portfolio publication.

The publication, also viewable through your web browser (although the interface isn’t quite as user-friendly), is probably best described as a catalog for Thomson Reuters Westlaw publications.

“Catalog” is likely too narrow a term for the app, though, since it’s anything but a simple listing of Thomson Reuters Westlaw products.

Instead, there’s a great deal of free content included in the app, such as articles, author interviews, and book excerpts.

The book excerpts are particularly helpful to me, since, when ordering books online, I always wonder about the layout and content of a book because I can’t see it in person first.

The excerpts solves that for me, since I can see how the content in a book is arranged (i.e. format, presentation, table of contents, etc), and what content is in the book.

In addition, the topics covered in Thomson Reuters Westlaw Portfolio are either fast-moving or particularly popular areas of law, or both.

For example, the first topic of the first issue is “Social Media,” which is both a popular and fast-moving area of the law.

In that section, the first entry is the article “Oversharing:  Help your clients understand it – and avoid it”

The article itself is three pages long, and includes an audio excerpt on social media’s impact on the law from author John Browning, and is actually a pretty helpful and inclusive overview on the subject.

After the article comes the actual “catalog” part listing several legal books related to social media, but it provides more than just the standard book summaries and customer reviews.

There are also audio clips from authors of two of the books, and four-page excerpts from three of the books.

The free content isn’t limited to just Westlaw books, though: the next section is a free article from Westlaw Journal Class Action on the recent Wal-Mart v. Dukes Supreme Court decision.

Westlaw Portfolio ScreenshotIf neither of these topics interests you, there are plenty more, all of which include excerpts and author interviews: litigation, criminal law, family law, estate planning, bankruptcy, and immigration.

You may be wondering how many of the listed topics fit into the publication’s selection of popular and fast-moving topics.

Within the larger legal topics are topics with such qualities.

For instance, although family law itself isn’t particularly popular or fast-moving, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues within family law are.

As such, the family law section includes content on such issues, in addition to new materials on family law staples such as custody and support.

Likewise, immigration law isn’t per se a hot legal topic, but with the recent upheavals in many Arab countries, asylum law is, and the topic is included in the immigration law section.

Overall, this is actually a pretty neat app.

Yes, a large part of it is a catalog for Thomson Reuters Westlaw products.

However, the app is free, and it does provide significant content for free.

If you have purchased or plan on purchasing Westlaw books, this app is perfect.

Even if you don’t plan on buying, the app provides excellent content for only the negligible cost of the space it consumes on your iPad.

Either way, just about any legal practitioner can get use from Westlaw Portfolio.