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Useful apps for on-the-go lawyers

BOSTON — As lawyers increasingly perform their work using mobile devices, work-related applications are more important than ever before. For tracking billable hours, signing documents and other tasks, these eight apps are useful additions to any lawyer’s arsenal of tools.

RogueTime

RogueTime, an iPhone and iPad app that captures phone calls for billing purposes, can provide a great benefit in tracking time for billable hours.

The app categorizes calls on an iPhone by client and date and then calculates the total amount due. RogueTime integrates with the iPhone address book to create a client list, and additional clients can be added manually. The app allows lawyers to enter standard billing rates for phone calls or to enter a different rate for specific clients.

Reports with time spent and the total cost can be emailed and added to an attorney’s main billing system.

The app costs $6.99 and is available at the Mac App Store.

GoodReader

GoodReader is a popular choice for iPad users — it was the bestselling non-Apple iPad app in the country in 2010.

The app manages all types of files, including pictures, Word documents and PDF files — a common format for lawyers, particularly those who practice in federal court.

“GoodReader is the most useful app that I have purchased for my iPad,” said Jeff Richardson, a partner at Adams and Reese in New Orleans and author of the iPhone J.D. blog.

“Virtually every document that I work with in my practice is either already in PDF format or can be easily exported to PDF format,” said Richardson. “I use GoodReader to read and annotate documents and store them into folders that correspond to my cases.”

GoodReader is compatible with Dropbox, and any file in the Dropbox folder — and all of its contents — can be synced to GoodReader.

The app also allows lawyers to sync any changes made to a document on GoodReader to iterations saved elsewhere. So, a lawyer could sync a client file to GoodReader, work on a motion or pleadings on an iPad over the weekend or while on vacation, and then sync it back up in the office.

GoodReader allows users to work with text in both Word and PDF formats, highlighting a word or phrase to be cut or copied or moved with the touch of a finger, or writing notes in the margin of a document.

“Swiping through pages with the tap of a finger is fast, and having every document that I might need with me at all times is incredibly useful,” Richardson said. “I can carry around dozens of depositions that are hundreds of pages long and all of the important pleadings from a case without adding any weight to my briefcase.”

For the security-minded, GoodReader files can be encrypted, and users can add a password to the app.

For the iPad, GoodReader costs $4.99.

A version of the app is also available for the iPhone at the same price.

Notes Plus

Ready to do away with the classic yellow legal pad? Try Notes Plus, which allows users to handwrite text.

Using an index finger, lawyers can create text that looks like it was written by hand, including basic drawings and shapes. The color, thickness, transparency, text font, size, color and paper background are all customizable.

Typed text can also be inserted anywhere on the page, in a variety of font sizes, colors and typefaces.

Notes can be organized in a folder structure and can be password-protected.

Notes Plus also features a voice recording feature.

The app costs $4.99.

Black’s Law Dictionary

To avoid being caught not knowing the translation of the Latin phrase opposing counsel just used, lawyers can now turn to the 9th edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, available on the iPhone and iPad.

With more than 45,000 terms — and Westlaw links, although a paid subscription to Westlaw service is required — the app allows lawyers to search by term and includes alternate spellings, equivalent expressions and audio pronunciations.

The app allows lawyers to bookmark key terms for quick reference and offers a “Word of the Day” in the spirit of continuing legal education.

The app costs $54.99.

Versions for the Android and the BlackBerry are coming soon.

Signature apps

Several apps have recently been released that offer lawyers the ability to sign documents, like billing statements or pleadings, on the iPad.

EasySign Mobile works with documents in formats including PDF, Word and Excel, and allows up to three signatories per document.

The app also allows users to insert text with information such as the date and time a document was signed. Documents are imported by email and dragged into EasySign, where a user creates a signature that is inserted into the document. The app then saves a new PDF that can be emailed to the user or anyone else.

EasySign is free for the first three documents; users then have a choice to purchase unlimited documents for $9.99 or pay per document (three documents for $0.99 and 10 documents for $2.99, for example).

Another signature choice: Sign-n-Send is available for $1.99 on the iPhone and iPad.

Sign-n-Send works with PDF and Microsoft Office documents received via email, and the app stores and sends documents via an encrypted server. For a fancier signature, the app offers multiple pen colors (including highlighter) and a variety of text sizes. Once the document is completed and signed, users can hit the “send” button, which converts the doc into a PDF that can be emailed or printed.

A third app, SignMyPad, functions in a similar manner. Documents come by email attachment, which are opened in the app. Signatures can be made with a stylus or a finger, and the size can be adjusted using a sliding bar at the top of the page. SignMyPad allows users to print or email documents, and to save them in the app or in Dropbox.

The app costs $3.99 and is available on the iPad and for the Android.

Exhibit A

A new app not specific to attorneys could prove useful for trials and other presentations. Exhibit A is presentation software that could be used in a courtroom, a mediation session or even at a conference.

The app allows users to create a “project” with a variety of document formats, including PDF, JPEG and MP3. Files can be added to a project using email or Dropbox. The contents of a project can be shared with an audience using the iPad and an external monitor or a projector using a VGA adapter.

The app allows users to control the display with a “show/hide” button, and displays the last document selected until the user shows a new document or hits the “hide” button. While a file is displayed, users can zoom in or out on a specific item, and a toolbar lets users highlight, write on or redact text.

Exhibit A costs $9.99.

Lawyers USA is a sister publication of The Daily Record.