From time to time, attorneys who read iPhone J.D. write to tell me how they are using their iPhone or iPad in their practice. I love to read these stories, and with permission I like to share some of them here on iPhone J.D. I recently heard from Will Harrelson, an attorney in Troy, OH with the law firm Faust, Harrelson, Fulker, McCarthy & Schlemmer who focuses his practice on business litigation, estate planning, collections, family, and employment law matters. Will also recently joined Curo Legal on the Practice Operations team where he works with solo and small firms to implement cloud-based technology solutions to improve their efficiencies and better serve their clients. I first met Will at the annual ABA TECHSHOW conference held in Chicago every Spring, and he generously agreed to share with iPhone J.D. readers his favorite iPhone and iPad apps. Take it away, Will!
- DS file – Our offices uses a Synology NAS (a mirrored two-hard drive network file server with backups to the cloud) so I use Synology's free DS file to access all of our files, including Word and PDF documents, where I then open them in other useful apps.
- Microsoft Word for iPad – I originally used Apple’s Pages for document editing because, before Word was released, it retained the .docx formatting the best. Now, I have an Office 365 subscription and I use Word for iPad to draft and edit pleadings, correspondence, and other documents. [Jeff adds: my 2014 review]
- PDF Expert and GoodReader – GoodReader and PDF Expert are the two apps that I use for PDF reading and annotation. They both offer amazing features for annotation and the newest version of each app includes substantial integration with cloud services. I do love the ability and ease of emailing a flattened PDF with my signature from PDF Expert. On the other hand, GoodReader allows for some awesome annotation, file manipulation, and organization features. [Jeff adds: my 2012 review of PDF Expert; my 2014 review of GoodReader]
- Bamboo Paper – Because I sometimes like to take handwritten notes during a meeting, I use the Wacom Bamboo Paper app with the Wacom Bamboo stylus (or one of the Clio pen/stylus combos that I picked up at the ABA TECHSHOW) to record my thoughts. [Jeff adds: my 2012 review of the Wacom Bamboo Stylus duo]
- Evernote – When typing is more appropriate, I link up my Apple Wireless Keyboard that's clipped to my Incase Origami case and use Evernote to type notes. Hidden trick: even when I handwrite notes into Bamboo Paper, I upload those notes directly to Evernote so they are all in one place. [Jeff adds: my 2010 review of the Apple Wireless Keyboard; my 2012 review of the Incase Origami Workstation for iPad]
- Clio – For all practice management issues such as timekeeping, billing, contact lookups, etc., I use the Clio app that allows me to access all of my case data from the awesome Clio service. [Jeff adds: my 2013 look at the Clip app]
- Box – Though I keep all files in our private NAS and can access it via the cloud, I do have a Box account so that I can easily transfer certain sets of documents to third parties without having to configure it through our NAS. It’s a lot simpler to tailor the access restrictions when it is just a few documents at a time. I can use the Box app to manage my account and download files on the go. I often use it to upload files from a client’s computer instead of using USB flash drives.
- 1Password – This often praised password management app is the one I use to manage all of my accounts and to store various membership card information so that I can stop collecting that paperwork in my home office. [Jeff adds: my 2013 review of 1Password]
- Fantastical – I have recently replaced the standard Apple iOS calendar with Fantastical 2 and I love the ease of scheduling appointments with simple language (for example, typing “Meeting at Tom’s at his house at 9am” will turn it into an appointment called “Meeting at Tom’s” with “his house” being the location and “9am” being the time. The visual aspect is much more pleasing to my sense of design as well. [Jeff adds: I haven't posted a review of the current version, Fantasical 2, but here is my 2012 review of the original Fantastical]
- MindNode – There are many blog posts on the concept of “mind-mapping” but it isn’t on every lawyer’s radar. It is simply the use of flow charts and webs to illustrate connections visually. I use the MindNode app for sketching out ideas for blog posts, trial preparation, and when I’m working on product improvements for Curo Legal to better organize my thoughts.
- Launch Center Pro – This is a bit of a stretch for most non-tech types but Launch Center Pro is a really fascinating app that allows you to build a menu of complicated commands all in a one-button solution. For example, I have built a command to launch my favorite radio app to open to a certain station without my having to launch the app, search for the station, and then press play. It is a workflow solution if you are into the overly-nuanced solving of very unimportant problems. [Jeff adds: my 2012 review of Launch Center Pro]
- TranscriptPad and TrialPad – I use TranscriptPad every time I have to annotate a deposition transcript. The features are endless and it helps me review and prepare deposition summaries in a fraction of the time it used to take. TrialPad is a fantastic trial presentation app that allows me to manipulate exhibits and display them on a screen with ease from any spot in the courtroom, wirelessly from my iPad. [Jeff adds: my 2013 review of TranscriptPad]
- UberConference – I use UberConference for small conference calls because it is more reliable than a phone system and I can do screen sharing through their website if necessary. I use a free account which is plenty for my needs.
- SignNow – When I engage a new client or need something with their signature, I send it to them using SignNow and they can sign it from their iOS device or computer and return it in minutes rather than me asking them to come to the office or both of us mailing copies to each other over the course of a number of days.
- Boxer – I’ve been fairly pleased with Apple’s default Mail app for most of my time being an iPhone and iPad owner but recently I tried both Mailbox and Boxer and I settled on Boxer as my permanent email replacement app. It allows me to turn emails into tasks, send emails to Evernote, reply with a number of pre-written responses, and assign emails to contacts as a to-do. It uses a Getting Things Done-type set of commands so I can use my inbox as an actual inbox instead of a giant pile of unsorted messages.
- Voice Memos – I use Apple's built-in Voice Memos app for dictating messages to email or text to my assistant)
- Pocket – Pocket is a great app that I use to read certain articles later. I often use Pocket by sending links from Twitter.
- Spotify and TuneIn Radio – I use both Spotify and TuneIn Radio for streaming great music on the go.
- Ruby Receptionists – The Ruby Receptionists app works with this great service that I use with Curo Legal as our virtual receptionists.
- Scanner Pro – Scanner Pro by Readdle is the best scanning app I have ever used. [Jeff adds: my 2012 review]
- Uber – Uber is the only way I get around Chicago, Nashville, and Columbus.
- Venmo – Venmo is a terrific money transfer app that I use with friends when I need to pay someone for my share of a dinner, for example.
Thank you so much, Will, for sharing this great list of apps. There are some great apps on your list that I use all the time — including Word for iPad, PDF Expert, GoodReader, 1Password, Fantastical, Launch Center Pro, Transcript Pad and Scanner Pro. But there are lots of others here that I haven't tried out yet, so it is great to learn that they work for you.
If you are willing to share your own experiences using an iPhone or iPad in your law practice with other iPhone J.D. readers, I'd love to hear from you! And in case you missed them, here are reports that I previously shared from other attorneys: