What Are The Top Ten Apps For Lawyers? Your Questions Answered!

Looking for the best apps for lawyers?

If you missed Brett Burney’s presentation “Top 10 Apps for Lawyers” then the first thing you should do is watch the recording.

Brett covered not just ten apps for lawyers, but ten different ways that lawyers can (and should) be using apps in their practice. Brett covered so much information and shared so many examples, he was flooded with questions from the participants! So, here are even more tips for choosing the best apps to use at your law firm!

Answered during the webinar:

  • Which iPad do you recommend? Do you recommend any particular device?
  • For a non-Apple tablet, what is your recommendation?

Even more questions:

Q: What is the recommended video/online conference software?

A: The two main online conference services – GoToMeeting & Webex – both have excellent mobile apps that continued to be improved. You can VIEW/WATCH conferences from these apps, and you can also HOST conferences from these apps using the built-in camera for video. I’ve also used services from join.me, ReadyTalk, and Zoom and they all work just fine.

They work so good, in fact, that I find myself sometimes watching webinars on the iPad since I can set it to the side of my desk so I can still use my computer during the webinar. Not that I endorse multi-tasking per se, but having the iPad show the webinar means my computer stays free for work.

Q: What is the best timekeeping apps for a mobile device?

A: This may depend upon the practice management system that you’re using in your firm. If you’re using a service like MyCase to manage your practice, you can track time inside that service with their app. It would be similar for other cloud-based and traditional software practice management systems.

I’ve also used the Toggl app on my iPhone, but the best timekeeping app I’ve found for mobile devices is iTimeKeep from Bellefield Systems. It’s a little pricey, but it directly connects into just about every time & billing system available on the market. There’s an iOS app and an Android app available.

Q: Is Dropbox any better than Apple’s iCloud?

A: I would say yes, although I use iCloud for several apps on my iPhone and iPad because it’s built into the ecosystem. But Dropbox syncs files better, is more accessible through the app, and generally more flexible for storing, managing, and syncing files.

Q: Is adding specific password protections to individual documents considered best practices or is it OK to just have a password to access OneDrive?

A: The first step is to use a strong, secure password for your Microsoft OneDrive account. You’ll need to input that password the first time you launch OneDrive on your mobile device.

The second step is to make sure you have a passcode enabled for your mobile device. On the iPad and iPhone, you can also turn on SECOND passcode inside the OneDrive app which provides a second level of protection.

If you do these three things then you’ve taken several reasonable steps to protect the information entrusted to you. If you choose to add a password to a document, that certainly applies an additional level of protection but I only use this step for highly sensitive documents that I am sending to clients or colleagues.

Q: How do you handle uploading changes to a Dropbox file that you’ve edited offline? Or do you not have the option to edit an offline file? 

A: Good question and the answer may depend on what app you’re using to edit the offline file. The Dropbox app does not allow you to edit files inside that app.

But for example, if you open a Microsoft Word document inside the Dropbox app, you can tap the “Edit” button in the bottom right corner. That will open the Microsoft Word app and allow you to edit the document. When you are finished editing, you tap the “Close” button in Word (the circle with an arrow in the upper left corner of the screen) and it will automatically upload the edited file back to Dropbox.

If you open a PDF file from Dropbox in an app like GoodReader and add some annotations, there is no automatic uploading function back to Dropbox (unless you’ve synced that folder). So you would have to manually upload that file back to Dropbox which can be done from inside the GoodReader app.

Q: Couldn’t you open and modify Office documents if you are using Microsoft Office 365?

 A: Absolutely. Microsoft allows you to perform some basic edits on Word documents with a free Microsoft account (without a paying subscription to Office 365). But if you have an Office 365 subscription you unlock all of the editing features in Microsoft Word.

Q: On the file/pdf manager products, is the price per month, per year, or a one-time purchase?

 A: The prices I show in the presentation are all a one-time purchase.

For example, the price for PDF Expert is $9.99. That’s a one-time purchase for the app and all of the updates are included.

Every once in a while, an app developer will release a brand new version of their app and instead of offering a free upgrade, they’ll sell the new version as a new app. iAnnotate did this recently. I explain this in my review of iAnnotate on my Apps in Law blog.

The only other exception is Adobe Acrobat Reader which is a free app and works just fine as a standalone app, but offers more features if you subscribe to Acrobat Pro DC (Document Cloud).

Q: I use Genius Scan or Evernote’s scanner. Why are the ones your recommended better?

 A: I’ve used both Genius Scan and Evernote’s Scannable and while they get the basic job done of “scanning” a document and uploading as a PDF, they don’t offer the additional features of Scanbot and Scanner Pro with OCR (text recognition) and “smart naming” or workflows.

You can find out more on Scanner Pro by watching my short video review on my Apps in Law blog.

Q: Does GoodReader or PDF Expert automatically sync with Dropbox?

A: Both GoodReader and PDF Expert will sync with Dropbox but I wouldn’t call it an “automatic” function. In each app, you have to select specific folders to sync from Dropbox.

Q: Regarding PDF Managers, Do GoodReader, PDF Expert or Adobe Acrobat Reader permit you to add text to PDFs?

A: Yes, all three apps will let you add text to PDF files – something akin to a “text box” where you type text. This used to be called the “Typewriter Tool” in older versions of Adobe Acrobat.

Q: What is the best way to be able to OCR a PDF that you receive as a PDF from someone else? 

A: If you receive a non-searchable PDF from someone as an e-mail attachment, I believe the best app to OCR the PDF is PDFpen Scan+ from Smile Software. You can watch the entire workflow in my short video review on my Apps in Law blog. Also, Scanbot now allows you to pull in a non-searchable PDF to OCR it, but I haven’t found that workflow to be as seamless as with PDFpen Scan+.

Q:Lawstack is IOS only. Is there an Android equivalent? 

A: If you visit www.lawstack.com they mention that an Android version is “in the works.” You might try dLaw formerly known as DroidLaw.

Q: Do you have a preferred stylus for the regular iPad? 

A: I hate that we have to refer to it as the “regular” iPad as if in some way it is inferior to the “pro” iPads, haha 🙂 If you have an iPad Pro (either size) then I absolutely recommend the Apple Pencil. But if you have the “regular” iPads, then a stylus is still a must-have accessory. I like the Wacom Bamboo Duo or the Adonit Pixel.

Q: What’s the difference in document scanner versus just taking a pic of a doc?

 When you use a scanning app, you are just taking a picture of a document, same as with the camera app. But it’s what you can DO with that picture after you take it.

The scanning apps allow you to convert the picture to a PDF file, rename the file, OCR the file (some apps), and then easily upload the file to a cloud-based service (Dropbox) or e-mail it. You can watch my short video review of Scanner Pro to get a better idea of all the functionality.

Q: How do you address client confidentiality concerns with the apps that involve the app getting access to the document contents (eg PDF to word converter)?

 A: That’s an excellent question and may apply differently for your practice, or even for the specific document in question.

Services like PDF to Word Converter do indeed upload your document to their services in order to perform the conversion – the iPad doesn’t have enough horsepower to perform that work locally.

If your document contains confidential information, you should: a) check the app developer’s policies on what they do with your documents (You can visit www.cometdocs.com and click the FAQ), and b) purchase a full-featured PDF software application for your computer (e.g. Adobe Acrobat Professional or PowerPDF from Nuance) and perform this workflow your office computer (Windows or Mac).

If you’re not comfortable sending the document to a third party, then you should not use an app like PDF to Word converter, and instead you’ll need to purchase a full featured PDF software application (such as Adobe Acrobat Professional or PowerPDF from Nuance) and perform this workflow on your office computer (Windows or Mac).

Q: What is your recommendation for hardware to use with the iPad for projecting presentations?

 A: There are two ways to give a presentation from the iPad: wired and wireless.

Let’s start with wired as it is the easiest method, and should be the “Plan B” for anyone that presents wirelessly. You need to purchase an adapter for your iPad that will connect into either a VGA cable (Lightning to VGA Adapter) or HDMI cable (Lightning Digital AV Adapter). You simply plug one end of the adapter into your iPad, and the other end into a VGA or HDMI cable.

For wireless presentations, you can either: a) use an Apple TV that is connected to a projector or widescreen television, or b) wirelessly present from your iPad to your laptop that is connected to a projector or widescreen TV by using the AirServer software.

The wireless option is certainly preferred as it gives you the ability to walk around and interact with your audience as you hold the iPad in your hand. But you should practice with the setup first and ensure you’re comfortable with everything. And always carry the adapters so the worst case scenario is that you put aside the wireless option and switch to the wired adapters.

List of Apps Mentioned in the Webcast:

Here is a list of all the apps I mentioned in the webinar with purchase links. Many of you commented after the webinar that we didn’t cover enough Android apps, and I wanted to point out that in the presentation, you’ll see a green Android icon () when there is a Android version of the app present. I have also listed the Android apps below for quick reference with links to the Google Play store.

iOS (iPhone & iPad) Apps for Lawyers

#1 Cloud-Based File Management

#2 File/PDF Managers

#3 Microsoft Word

#4 Presentation Apps

#5 Legal Research

#6 Note-Taking

#7 Transcript Management

#8 Document Scanner

#9 PDF Converter

#10 Task/To-Do Management

Bonus #11 Password Management


Android Apps for Lawyers

#1 Cloud-Based File Management

#2 File/PDF Managers

#3 Microsoft Word

#4 Presentation Apps

#5 Legal Research

#6 Note-Taking

#8 Document Scanner

#10 Task/To-Do Management

Bonus #11 Password Management




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