The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers divorce trial, People v. Robert Blake murder trial, and a hundreds of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

iPad Apps for Lawyers: MobileLaw and Rulebook

There are many good ways to lighten your burden created by carrying things like books and documents these days – one of them certainly being the iPad. A couple of nice weight-reducing apps are Rulebook (currently at version 1.3.1, released 9/20/2012) and MobileLaw (currently at version 1.2.1, released 11/2/2012). Both have been out for a while now, and either will do a nice job of getting Federal, State, and Local Rules in your hands, and in an easily searchable and workable format.

Jeff Richardson shares a nice review of each on his iPhone JD blog:

MobileLaw features a clean and simple interface. Highlighting text is easily done (this feature has been added since Jeff’s review), using the iPad “copy/paste” feature, which adds an option to add or remove the highlights. When I emailed the rule to myself, it did not include the highlights, however. You can add notes to any Rule, and have the option to include them for emailing or printing. Another option when a single word is selected is “Definition.” This is a convenient feature which could be helpful in the right circumstances.

It should be noted that the Rules are not downloaded until clicked on, so if you’re going to be in Court with a weak or non-existent broadband or wireless signal (depending on your device), you may want to download everything you might need ahead of time. This will also affect your search results. If you have not downloaded all applicable rule sets, your search will not bring “potential” results. Although only 10 States are currently included along with the Federal Rules and Laws, there is no extra charge to get these. So, if you need State Rules for California, Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas, Washington or Wyoming (as of this writing), you’re good to go.

Rulebook begins downloading all available rules once you start the app. I watched the download process roll along for a bit, so again, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have everything loaded and ready before you actually need it. You’ll also want to take a look in the “Library” section for any available updates, and will need to select each one manually. The Library icon will be a gold color when updates are available.

Although Rulebook offers some extra features and a great deal of content including the Bluebook®, it is available via in-app purchase. Pricing for books ranges from $1.99 to $4.99, and the Bluebook goes for $39.99.

Rulebook does not support emailing or printing your selections, nor could I figure out how to even copy the text to the clipboard so I might paste it into an email, although the app help menu states that you can. As you can see from the image, it does not appear as an option, and it did not copy when selected.

Searching in Rulebook delivered far more content “hits” than MobileLaw. For instance, when I searched for the word “probative,” MobileLaw delivered 5 California Evidence Code hits, and 7 Federal Rules of Evidence hits. Rulebook nailed the same 5 California Rules, but then had 44 hits in the Federal Rules. This is certainly a more powerful search function, and could become a major decision factor.

MobileLaw Search Result: "Probative"
Rulebook Search Result: "Probative"

These two apps are free, and both are very capable of keeping Court Rules available to you at all times. If you need an accurate and powerful search tool, or the added content available in Rulebook, that’s the app for you. If you’re able to work with what is available in MobileLaw, the price is right. Either one is quicker, easier, and lighter to carry than the text books.