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Conducting Legal Research on Your Smart Phone

September 07, 2011
 By Emily Schreiber, Biddle Research Associate  
Among the many innovations of WestlawNext is a mobile version for your smart phone. While I haven’t worked out exactly how this fits my needs as a student (my own Droid is pretty much exclusively used for texting and facebooking these days), Westlaw suggest that the mobile version can be useful for “research[ing] during your subway commute, in court using KeyCite to check your opponent’s case, or working at an off-site client meeting.” 
iPhone.jpgLike the online version, WestlawNext Mobile is extremely easy to use. You can quickly search and pull up documents using the search bar. Any content you’ve viewed and stored online is available with the mobile version, and vice versa. The KeyCite features you’re accustomed to are available on WestlawNext Mobile as well. You can find negative treatment, citing references, or associated court documents. You can also add notes, save items in folders or email documents.
Currently, WestlawNext Mobile works on iPhone, BlackBerry Palm or Android and looks great across all platforms. It was readable and user-friendly on my Droid and got two thumbs up from a BlackBerry user.
There’s nothing to download. Just type into your phone’s browser and log in. Once you access WestlawNext Mobile, the site optimizes for your device.
For more information about WestlawNext Mobile and iPad check out this link:
And for even more law at your fingertips, here’s a sample of the free law-related apps available for Apple.
LawStack is a pocket legal library. It comes preloaded with the US Constitution, Federal Rules of Evidence, and the Federal Rules of Civil, Appellate, and Bankruptcy Procedure. You can additionally purchase the US Code, Code of Federal Regulations or any of a number of state law add-ons.
PocketJustice is a product of the Oyez project. The free app contains information, from dates to advocates, on 100 Supreme Court cases (the full app contains over 600). Cases decided since 1995 include links to oral arguments. You can also browse biographical information on all 110 Justices.
You could shell out $55 for the Black’s Legal Dictionary app or just download one of many free legal dictionaries available, like Free Law Dictionary.
LexisNexis Get Cases & Shepardize app is a little clunky but allows you pull up a case using its citation. It also provides a Shepard’s Summary (though unfortunately no access to citing references).
Lexis and Thomson Reuters (owner of Westlaw) each have a legal news app. The West app, called “Thomson Reuters News & Insight,” has news sortable by practice area or location as well as recently filed legal documents and audio/video content.   LexisNexis Legal News offers breaking news in law, business and finance.   LexisNexis Legal News also aggregates information from blogs, Twitter and video.
The ABA Journal app offers legal news, articles from the most recent ABA journal issues and featured legal blog content.
For those enrolled in its course, BARBRI has a free app that allows students to stream content on their phones, including video or audio lectures and practice questions.
And finally, there is not a shortage of free apps on strange American laws. Did you know that in Myrtle Creek, Oregon, one may not box with a kangaroo? There’s an app for lawyer jokes too but unfortunately, that one isn’t free. It’ll run you 99 cents.