Debra Pickett is President of Page 2 Communications (www.page2comm.com). A former newspaper columnist and television commentator, Pickett offers consulting and training to law firms and lawyers who deal with the media. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vicki Steiner, at UCLA’s Law Library, assembled a fantastic guide to Mobile Apps for Legal Research and News.
She includes a pretty comprehensive set of national resources, from the ABA Journal’s free app to the $54.99 iPhone, iPad and Android-friendly versions of Black’s Law Dictionary, which are well worth checking out. (Android users will also want to explore DroidLaw, a free reference that has evolved significantly since Steiner listed it. And downloaders on all platforms all well-advised to steer clear of LawBox, which Steiner describes as a free app, but which has recently dramatically changed its interface and moved all of its most useful, state-specific content behind a pay wall.)
For Illinois attorneys, there are a number of locally-based apps to use and explore, too. Consider:
Illinois Statutes ($5.99) – iPhone listing of all 67 Chapters of Illinois Law, including the Illinois Vehicle Code, the Illinois Criminal Code and the Code of Civil Procedures. Updates when the law changes.
Illinois Compiled Statutes ($29.99) – Same basic content as above, but with superfast searching and offline access (for those no Wifi, no 3G courthouses) and a more user-friendly set-up.
Illinois Pro Bono (FREE) – Created by Illinois Legal Aid, this easy-access directory lists volunteer and training opportunities across the state, organized by area of interest. (Incidentally, the group has also created a Legal Aid app for non-lawyers. It’s an easy-to-understand field guide for those dealing with divorce, child custody matters, small claims, evictions and foreclosures.)
Finally, for lobbyists, or, really, anyone interested in “how the sausage is made,” legally speaking, Cohen Research Group’s Illinois+ ($4.99, for iPhone) and IllinoisPro ($29.99 for Blackberry) are must-have tools. These interactive lists of contact, staff and biographical information on Illinois legislators connect you quickly to the folks making decisions in Springfield. Incidentally, their well-known guide to Capitol Hill is called Congress in Your Pocket. I’m assuming they didn’t want to call this one “Illinois In Your Pocket” because the listings for state senators and representatives do not include PayPal links to make contributions to their campaigns. Perhaps that’s coming in an update.
Have fun downloading and exploring this stuff and let me know what you think. While I can’t promise you’ll love these new tools, I can assure you that it will be a more valuable use of your smartphone than, say, tweeting insults about opposing counsel.