Before I jump headfirst into my top twenty list, a few words of caution. I have excluded “free apps” that are tied to paid subscription services, so you will not find any of the quite excellent apps put out by companies like LexisNexis or Westlaw. Also, while I hope you find many of the apps to be great tools in your toolchest, they should not be taken as substitutes for official sources of law. Finally, if you’re of a mind to read more about these apps, or discover others yourself, I encourage you to check out the following mobile app search engines and stores (depending on your particular device): Apple Web Apps, Android Market, Amazon App Store, Android Zoom, Blackberry App Word, Mobile Apps for Law, and uQuery.
Without further ado, here are the top 20 free (or almost-free) legal mobile app faves (in alphabetical order):
Box.net is a wonderful free app that lets you view, store, edit and share files in a wide variety of formats. It is available for Apple and Android devices and gives you 5GB of storage.
CLE Mobile allows attorneys to listen to their CLE courses and even submit completed lessons for CLE credit. This free app is available on Apple devices, and is great for meeting those continuing education requirements for the lawyer who is on the go.
CourtDays is a free and convenient Apple app that lets you quickly calculate the number of calendar days or court days before and after a particular date. Quite useful when you just have to know those filing deadlines!
DragonDictation is free for Apple and Blackberry devices. It utilizes voice recognition to dictate messages, and can also be used to update your status on select social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
DroidLaw is a free app for the Android that gives you access to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Rules of Evidence, the Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. State statutory codes are available as a paid add-on.
Dropbox offers external cloud-based storage. Files are automatically retrievable from all your Dropbox-connected devices. This free mobile app is available on Apple, Android and Blackberry devices. It also requires a free Dropbox account.
Evernote is a free, award-winning app available for Apple, Android and Blackberry devices that allows you to capture recordings, photos and notes into a readily searchable database. It also has a useful to-do list manager and can be synchronized to your desktop computer.
Fastcase is a free legal search database that is available for Apple devices. Searches of cases and statutes can be performed using citations, keywords and phrases. Boolean operators are a plus.
Goodreader is an Apple mobile app that does cost $4.99, but allows you to read and annotate text, PDF, Excel, Word and PowerPoint files. It also integrates nicely with Dropbox, Googledocs, Box.net and FTP servers.
LawStack is a free reference for Apple devices that includes the US Constitution, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Rules of Evidence, and the Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.
LegalEdge keeps you informed on current legal developments including news alerts, updates and case filing from all over the United States. It is a free mobile app for Apple devices.
LogMeIn is a free app for Apple and Android devices that allows you to remotely log into your computer. Very useful when you need to extend your reach or just have to have that file.
MegaReader gives you access to nearly 2 million free books. You can customize for color, font size and spacing. The cost is $1.99. It is available for Apple devices.
MobileTranscript is a free app for Apple devices that lets attorneys review depositions and court transcripts. You can also log your billable time for export.
MyCongress is a free app for Apple devices that gives you very specific information on members of Congress, including their news releases, videos, bills and Twitter feeds.
MyPoint turns your mobile Apple device into a remote control for slide presentations on Windows and MacOS X systems. It also includes a display of current and future slides, which is quite handy when the screen is behind the speaker. This app is free and is available on Apple devices. A free companion application needs to be installed on your computer as well.
OpenRegs is a free app for Apple devices that gives you handy access to regulations published on the Federal Register. You can find proposed and final rule-making notices, or browse regulations by agency or comment period.
OyezToday is a free app that provides you the latest informaiton on Supreme Court cases, including audio of oral arguments, transcripts, and copies of the actual decisions. It is available for Apple devices, but an Android app is under development.
RECALLS.GOV provides information on recall announcements from the FDA, NHTSA, Consumer Products Safety Commission, and the Department of Agriculture. It is a free Android app available from www.recalls.gov.
Rulebook is a free app for Apple devices that provides you ready access to federal and state rules of procedure, and also includes Bluebook rules.
WeirdLaws isn’t one of the top twenty, but is a lot of fun so I decided to include it nevertheless. Admittedly it’s not particularly useful, but it can serve as a great conversation starter. Citations aren’t provided, so please take what you read with a grain of salt. Is it really illegal in Maryland to take a lion to the movies?
David Williams, J.D., is Chief Executive Officer of Presto Servers, Inc. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org