I love to hear how other attorneys are using an iPhone or iPad in their law practice, so I always appreciate it when one of you is willing to share what you are using with the rest of the readers of iPhone J.D. Today I am happy to share a submission from Jay Brinker, an estate planning attorney in Cincinnati, OH. Jay also has a blog, which he uses to share interesting estate planning-related stories. When I first started talking to Jay about the apps that he uses, he told me that he didn't use anything special, and said that because he is not a litigator, he doesn't use many of the well-known legal apps. But I find that I always learn something no matter what kind of law practice someone has, and I am sure that most of you would agree. So with no further ado, take it away, Jay:
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When Jeff asked me if I could share my iPhone experiences with his readers, I was hesitant to do so because my use of iOS apps is limited compared to the litigators who use apps in trial and for trial prep. Jeff persuaded me that my more non-power user approach could be useful nonetheless. So here goes.
I am a solo estate planning attorney who just passed the five year anniversary of my first iPhone purchase. I was slow to adopt because my prior cell phone provider offered a stupidly low rate ($100 or so for three lines) but did not sell iPhones nor support them, so I suffered through with a BlackBerry until the limitations became untenable. Expectedly, that carrier is now out of business.
I view my iPhone as a life convenience device rather than a work tool, although it does assist with the large part of my life that is my law practice.
SugarSync is my preferred file syncing and file sharing service because it plays well with my file organization. It has a nice app for iOS which allows me to easily access any document on my office PC from my phone. Twice in a six month period, I was out of the office (Marco Island and Prague) when I received an email requesting a client’s living will. I was able to send the document to the requesting person almost immediately from my phone.
Square is my credit card processing app. I appreciate its simplicity and relatively low cost. The customer satisfaction of a client paying with a credit card and getting airline miles is worth the 2.75% or haircut I take. A quote from a client: “You take credit cards? This gets better all of the time.” That is worth $50 in reduced fees.
Office Lens from Microsoft is a free scanning app that I have been using recently to scan documents on the go. I can scan and send the document to a myriad of cloud based services.
OneDrive by Microsoft is my cloud storage provider of choice for miscellaneous documents like travel itineraries, tickets, reservations, and other personal documents I want to access quickly. The iOS app is easy to use.
Apple Pay Cash. I love Apple Pay. If Kroger accepted Apple Pay, my grocery shopping experience would be sublime. Apple Pay Cash allows you to transfer funds to friends and others via text without the privacy concerns of Venmo nor transaction costs of other methods. A younger out of town client wished to pay an invoice expeditiously last year, so I gave her my cell phone number and she paid via Apple Pay Cash. I then transferred the funds to my office checking account.
Other Apps I Like
Overcast is my preferred podcast app thanks to Jeff. I can build playlists and skip ahead or rewind in time allotments of my choice. You can use the app for free.
Spotify is my music streaming app of choice. The $240 annual family plan allows my children and me to access nearly any album ever released, build playlists of favorites, and listen to new CDs the day they are released. I can download playlists onto my phone for offline playback in my car while also controlling music on my PC from the phone. I am not sure how sustainable this business model is long term, but I love it. There is also a free version if you do not mind commercials every fourth song.
Key Ring allows me to keep my loyalty cards on my phone and avoid having to carry a “Costanza wallet." This app is free.
Banking app. I love the convenience of mobile banking. I have greatly reduced the number of bank trips for personal check deposits due to the app for my bank. If my business bank had a larger monthly mobile deposit limit, life would be really sweet.
I also use the Zelle app to send money directly to a family member’s bank account which easily beats writing a check.
Most Indispensable App
Starbucks Mobile App with its order ahead feature saves me between five and ten minutes every time I visit Starbucks. I also accumulate rewards points for free drinks. The app is free.
To save space, I recently deleted all of the free Microsoft Office apps. I never use my phone to edit documents so there was no point in having them.
Apps Never On My Phone (or iPad)
Any social media app. Pox on all of their houses.
I have a home iPad and an office iPad. The home iPad is primarily for newspaper and blog reading. I take the office iPad into meetings so I can quickly answer a question such as how a house is titled or the status of an estate. I also use it to schedule the follow up meeting for clients to sign their estate planning documents. I find it less intrusive than having a laptop for the same purposes.
Thanks for reading and thanks to Jeff for asking me to write. I hope there was something helpful here.
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Thanks again, Jay, for taking the time to share some of your favorite apps! I had never heard of the Key Ring app, so I'll have to check that one out.
If any of 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 no, you don't have to be a litigator! In case you missed any of them, here are stories that I previously shared from other attorneys:
- Christopher Abernathy: 1/8/15
- William Axtell: 2/19/13
- Scott Bassett: 11/14/16
- Zane Cagle: 1/1/12
- Carolyn Elefant: 10/8/15
- Megan Erickson: 5/11/11
- Jeff Forbes: 3/21/13
- Tom Freeland: 7/13/10
- Will Harrelson: 8/19/14
- Cliff Maier: 12/22/08
- Lindsay Rakers: 12/18/12
- Alfred Saikali: 5/4/11
- Mike Schneider: 4/28/09
- Todd Smith: 11/7/16
- Clark Stewart: 7/22/10
- Joe Suhre: 12/3/13
- John Walker: 7/2/13
This article won the BlawgWorld Pick of the Week award on August 13, 2018. The editors of BlawgWorld, a free weekly email newsletter for lawyers and law firm administrators, give this award to one article every week that they feel is a must-read for this audience.