Tag Archives: legal apps

HeinOnline for the iPhone

HeinOnline is a free premier online research source and is now available for your iPhone and iPad.  The HeinOnline app allows the user to “view the image-based PDFs, access content by citation, browse by volume, navigate a volume with the electronic table of contents, and use full advanced searching techniques.”

HeinOnlineiPhone1

To get started, the user will need a username and password or the user can simply visit a law school campus and touch the “IP Authentication” button, which grants access to the user for 30 days from any location.  After 30 days, the user will need to visit the law school to re-authenticate the IP address to continue access.

heinonlinelegaljournals

This is the home screen that offers the user many different legal journals to choose from, depending on the topic of the research.  In this instance, I am looking for information on secondary copyright infringement.  So, I chose the broad option of Law Journal Library.

heinonlinelawjournallibrary

In the search box, I typed the search terms “secondary copyright infringement” and was presented with a list of law reviews that offered information on intellectual property and copyright infringement.

heinonlinecopyrightlaw

I chose “Copyright, Patent & Trademark Law” from the Washington and Lee Law Review.  This screen gives you the option of downloading the information in PDF format…

heinonlineatoz

…or browsing the Table of Contents to pinpoint exactly what it is you are looking for.

I think the app has a lot of information that could potentially help the researcher immensely.  The problem with using an iPhone to search this site is that most of the journal names or titles of law reviews are cut off by the size of the small screen.  This is an irritating feature that is not remedied when you click on the title, as it is still cut off by ellipses on the following screen.

The HeinOnline app may work better on the iPad since it has a bigger screen to fully display journal and law review title names.  I think if you are in a rush and need to use a legal app to quickly find helpful information, I would use a different app.  This one takes too long to navigate and the small screen is an obstacle that is tough to ignore.  I would personally stick with HeinOnline on a computer and find another iPhone app to use for legal research at my fingertips.

~Catherine Chesnut, Class of 2013~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advanced Legal Research, electronic resources, Of Interest to Law Students, Student Postings

Survey of CSL Student Opinion on Initial iPad Setup

In early 2010 Apple Inc announced the iPad and the tablet computer has caused quite a stir in both the education and legal fields. iPad applications allow users to interact with information in new ways and the portability of the device allows people to keep information, literally, at their fingertips.  Some modern courts have discussed going paperless and because of the the versatility of the iPad, it has the potential to replace the legal pad in the courtroom. Due to these developments institutions of legal education have begun adopting tablet technology into their educational models.

In the summer of 2011 the Dean of the Charlotte School of Law Library, Roberta (Bobbie) Studwell, mandated that the Law Library purchase and begin circulating iPads by the end of fall 2012 semester. Dean Studwell had informed the library staff she would be taking a position at a law library in Florida and that the library staff would be responsible for establishing the policies and procedures associated with the new library iPad program. To prepare the library staff for this venture into new technology iPads were ordered for the library staff to use in their daily work.  Over the next couple of months the staff became familiar with the different applications and resources offered by this new technology.

An iPad task force was established to make decisions on tablet circulation policy, iPad security measures, and to make decisions on installed applications. The task force consisted of the library circulation manager, two reference librarians, and two members of the circulation staff (myself included in the last group.) Over the course of several semiweekly meetings, the task force discussed our opinions on the applications and circulation policy.  Each member of the task force did their own separate research on applications, looked into the way other schools (specifically law schools) circulated tablets and presented the information back to the group. We based many of our decisions on the policies used by our sister school, the Phoenix School of Law.  PSL’s iPad policies did not fit the scope the Charlotte iPad program so additional research was needed and other school policies were consulted.   In the end, policies were decided, iPad applications were earmarked and 20 iPads were purchased.

Over the course of the next year the implementation of the Charlotte School of Law Library iPad program was stagnated by a number of technological hurdles as well as some schedule conflicts. Until, October of 2012, I was asked to take on the responsibility of the initial iPad setup and making the final push in integrating the iPads into the library.

Concerns, Problems, Areas of Interest and Methodology

Even with over a year spent on preparation, a few questions needed to be addressed before the iPads could begin to circulate. After meeting with the library leadership team and explaining my idea it was decided that a short questionnaire would answer some needed questions and help to inform students about the upcoming iPad program. I wanted to keep the survey short and simple so I could hit a broader audience. Historically it has been hard to get busy law students to give more than a few seconds of their time, unless you bribe them with food which for the purpose of this survey I was not willing to provide.  I decided to conduct the survey at the circulation desk of the Charlotte School of Law Library.  It is one of the most visited desks in the building and it would insure we gain the opinions of the people that regularly used the library.  I setup three iPads with the decided upon applications and placed them at the circulation desk. I then asked the students to “play around” with the new technology and then take a short survey when they finished.

I created the CSL iPad survey by using the website www.surveymonkey.com. I chose to use this website because it is free to use, tracks the data, and allows the students to complete the survey on the actual iPad they were trying out. Using Safari, the default web browser on the iPad, I made a shortcut to the survey webpage that looks like an application icon and placed the short cut on the home screen of the device. This also made it much easier to have students participate in the survey when all they had to do was tap the icon labeled “iPad Survey.” Below is a screenshot of the survey taken from one of the demonstration iPads.

iPad_screenshot

These questions were chosen for a number of reasons. The first and most important reason was to allow students to begin thinking about how they would use this device.  Simply providing a piece of technology will not get people to use it. You have to let people make a personal connection to the technology. This is why it was essential to have the students explore the iPad and take the survey using the iPad.  By placing the device in their hands, the iPad stops being a concept and starts being a tool.  Secondly, most of the applications we installed on the iPads were law research related and I did not want this to stifle students’ ideas about the possible uses for these devices. It is my opinion that libraries provide resources and should not dictate how these resources are used. This is why I chose to ask several questions about the possible entertainment uses for these devices. Thirdly, I realize that even with all the research done by the library our student body may know of additional application that could be useful to our library patrons. Lastly, buying applications and study aids for 20 individual devices can be rather pricy and I wanted to use this survey to justify this expenditure. For this reason I wanted to get very specific information from individual students about what study aids they wanted to see on the circulating iPads.

Findings

Early in the CSL iPad project one of our reference librarians conducted a focus group on student opinion on the law library circulating iPads. The pool for the focus group consisted of students with experience using smartphones and tablets. The overall consensus of the study was negative toward the library integrating iPads.  I had hoped that opening the survey to a broader audience would lend more positive results. After two days of surveying the students coming to the circulation desk, 83% of the students said that they would checkout an iPad when they came available.

survey1

The majority of students stated that they would most likely use the iPads to do legal research. Many of the students were also interested in web browsing and other entertainment applications.

survey2

There was a stronger divide in student opinion over the installation of entertainment focused applications. Of the students that said they were interested in more entertainment applications, Facebook and Pandora were the most requested.

survey3

As far as additional legal applications suggested by the student body there was no great consensus. Black’s Law Dictionary, a bar preparation application, and a language translator were all requested. Students appeared to be the most interested in question 6 regarding the purchase of study aids. Q&A appears to be the front runner of the suggested study aids to be purchase with Examples and Explanations, Glannon Guides, and Fins following close behind.  By using the data collected in this survey we will determine the applications to be used in the final product.

~Aaron Greene~

Leave a comment

Filed under Of Interest to Law Students, Student Information

OyezToday

OYEZTODAY at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law offers you the latest information and media on the current business of the Supreme Court of the United States. OYEZTODAY provides: easy-to-grasp abstracts for every case granted review, timely and searchable audio of oral arguments + transcripts, and up-to-date summaries of the Court’s most recent decisions including the Court’s full opinions. You will have access to all this information on your iPhone with the ability to share reactions on Facebook, Twitter, or by email. (Recordings of opinion announcements from the bench will follow when the Court releases these files to the National Archives at the start of the Court’s next Term).  ~www.oyez.org

oyeztoday

Available for all iOS and Android Platforms

There are many features that I liked about the Oyez app, the first being that the app is free to download.   Additionally, the case detail does a nice job of synthesizing the issues and lets you know how the Justices voted.  The feature I enjoyed the most is the media component, which provides an audio version of each argument presented before the Court.

oyeztoday2

In addition to the list of cases provided through the application, there is a tab that provides background information about each Justice.  I personally liked this section because, in many instances, understanding a Justice’s background and philosophies provides you an insight which will allow you to effectively predict how certain justices will rule on specific issues.

 oyeztoday3

While there are many features that I really enjoyed about this app, there are some features that I did not like.  The biggest drawback is that the app only goes back to the 2010 term.  Another key component missing from the app is a search function.  A researcher accessing the Oyez site on a laptop can search for specific cases by typing in the case title or case citation.  But with the Oyez app, you have to scroll through each page for a particular case, which can be extremely time consuming and not the most effective search method.

Overall, this app is beneficial in some instances and worth it for every law student to give it a try.  Did I mention it is FREE?!?

~Porcsha Daniels, Class of 2014~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advanced Legal Research, electronic resources, Of Interest to Law Students, Student Postings

LexisNexis “Get Cases” Application

The first step I took, in test-driving the LexisNexis “Get Cases” Application, was to input my username and password.  After successfully logging on, I input a citation (“18 USC 924”) and clicked “Get a Document” – seeing as how this and Shepardizing were my only two search options.  This search yielded three results, all of which gave direct links to the statute itself.

lexisnexisgetcases

Using the same citation, I then clicked “Shepardize.”   I was provided with a warning that the citation I provided has received negative treatment and that my search yielded over 20,000 results.  Naturally, I was told to restrict my search.  Although Shepard’s is used as both a finding tool and validation tool, when trying to restrict my search after clicking “Shepardize,” I had a lot of difficulty getting anything back in terms of results.  Ultimately, what I discovered was that this application works best with explicit citations – not necessarily keywords, case names or Boolean searches.

lexisnexisshepardize

To test this, I input a random case citation (131 F.2d 313) and, from the home-screen, clicked on both “Get a Document” and “Shepardize.”  This time, I received results for both searches.

lexisnexisboth

I found this app’s functionality and usability as a legal research tool to be rather adequate.  Although it has restrictions when it comes to generalized legal research, this app could prove to be essential to any attorney who needs to look up specific information regarding a case and/or statute.  Because this application works best with specific citations, an attorney or other legal professional who needs to quickly reference a specific issue in a case or statute can access that law by using this app.  You are able to instantly review case law – including the rules, the Court’s reasoning, and the legal issues at hand.  In addition, to help evaluate the results you receive, you are then able to use LexisNexis’s Shepard’s system to get information regarding the treatment of a specific case, statute, etc.

In comparing legal research on phones/tablets to “traditional” technologies (i.e. laptops and desktops), I think that we are very lucky to have such amazing portable research tools available to us as legal professionals.  Although this particular application does not provide every tool that would be available to any Lexis subscriber using their laptop, it is only one of many apps out there.  LexisNexis, alone, has several applications (the majority of which are free to download):  Lexis Advance, eBooks from LexisNexis, CourtLink, lexis.com Mobile, LexisNexis Get Cases, LexisNexis Welcome Center, etc.

To summarize, LexisNexis’s Get Cases Application is a great and essential tool for any legal professional to learn how to use.  Not only does it provide someone with a mobile legal research tool, but users are able to access an incredible amount of information that could aid any attorney in an “on the spot” or ambiguous legal question.

~Madeline Gould, Class of 2013~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advanced Legal Research, electronic resources, Of Interest to Law Students, Student Postings

App – Congress Plus – Powered by THOMAS

This app costs $4.99 and is completely worth it.  Being a broke law student, I might have even paid $10.00 because the searching possibilities of this app are just about limitless.  When you first open the app, you are greeted with a list of all members of congress. This list includes their pictures and state, district and party affiliations. You can search for a member of Congress by name or by state by selecting the option in the top right corner.

congressplus1

I first explored the app to determine just what it had to offer. Honestly, I was shocked at the options and the quick links to important sites. It is almost as if the makers of the app knew just how we law students like things to be quick and easy.  Along the bottom of the opening screen, as shown above, you have options to view Senate members, House members, Legislation, etc..  The app begins to get interesting after you press on the “more” button, found at the far right bottom of the screen.  Although a law student’s primary need will be the legislation option, sometimes you need to play.  If you choose to do so, you will be able to access news, DC job openings, Factcheck.org, News articles from Politico with a search option, open seats in congress, the political composition of each house, and even, donors.

congressplusmore

After playing around for about thirty minutes, I decided to conduct a search.  The research topic I conjured up was a topic involving eminent domain.  I was curious as to whether there were any federal repercussions for states that use the power of eminent domain to confiscate land from a private owner to make a public park, and then later decide to close the park and sell that land to an apartment developer.  I tapped the “Legislation” option on the bottom tool bar and was presented with the option to search for legislation by name or phrase, or by entering the bill number. I entered “eminent domain” “public parks” into the search bar.  The results were many bill listings separated into three different categories: (1) “Listing of 4 bills containing all your search words near each other in any order,” (2) “Listing of 76 bills containing all your search words but not near each other,” and (3) “List containing 995 bills containing one or more of your search words.” When I selected the first bill in the search list, a table of contents page appeared with links to each subject.

congresspluslegislation

Also, the app gives you the option to look at a bill summary, explore the sponsors of the bill and information about each member, etc..  I selected the bill summary just to see if I was on the right track, and the CRS Summary paraphrased every relevant section of the bill for a rapid assessment of the bill’s usefulness.  To top it all off, if you press on “Home,” at the top left of the screen, you are taken directly to the THOMAS site.

congressplusthomas

So, if you feel your search options are limited with the Congress Plus app, you are given the full spectrum of search power through THOMAS.

I truly enjoyed using this app because it ran very smoothly, with no hiccups, and there are no obvious organizational changes to make.  It is worth every penny, especially if you are involved in politics.

~Laura Dean, Class of 2013~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advanced Legal Research, electronic resources, Of Interest to Law Students, Student Postings

OpenRegs

The OpenRegs App is a limited search tool for federal regulations.  For example, the Internal Revenue Code has its own separate Revenue Regulations that are posted to help a student, attorney or researcher get clarity on a certain topic or code section from the Internal Revenue Code. But, unfortunately, OpenRegs does not let you use the numbers of the regulations to search through all of the ones posted.

The content of the application covers the most recent regulations that each agency has posted, as well as many pending regulations that are still up for commentary. Because there is no ‘general search’ option to this application, you are only permitted to search regulations by agency name or the name of the regulation.  It would be helpful to the researcher to also know the date the regulation was either discussed or finalized, as both of these dates are found within the app.

As a student currently taking Federal Income Tax, I know that the names of particular regulations are less important to the study and practice of tax law than the numbers of the regulations themselves.  For example, we know the general topic or subject matter within the Internal Revenue Code that the regulations fall under, but we learn them by number, not by name.  Additionally, the Court references the regulations by number, not by name. Therefore, this application helps a student or researcher looking for more information on a regulation only if they have the name of that regulation.

Because an attorney practicing in the field will have knowledge about proposed regulations that are being discussed and finalized, this application might be useful to them, not to mention for the reason that the regulations are current.  The application, however, tries to be more student-friendly, as well.  For instance, once you get to a particular agency, the app links you to a Wikipedia article about that agency. As a law student, I would never use Wikipedia as a reliable source, and I find it hard to believe any attorney would rely on Wikipedia either.

The major problem with this app is that the researcher cannot conduct a general search of regulatory information.  There is no searchable database for all regulations that have been passed by certain agencies, only for those regulations that are current.           OpenRegs is unlikely to become a necessary app for an attorney’s “tool box” of legal resources. I would not recommend this app for attorneys, or to students attempting to use it for class research. There are better resources available that provide the proposed regulations and, unlike OpenRegs, permit a search of all regulations finalized under an agency.  In these cases, the attorney will have the opportunity to search the regulations by its number, and not just by name or finalization date, as with OpenRegs.

~ Karen Walker, Class of 2014 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advanced Legal Research, electronic resources, Of Interest to Law Students, Student Postings

DroidLaw aka dLaw

DroidLaw is a great app for a quick reference guide to legal information. It has recently upgraded to dLaw, but both versions are available in app stores. The app comes with the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, Bankruptcy Procedure, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure and Evidence. In addition to these materials, you can “purchase” the U.S. Constitution, Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, and a Legal Dictionary for free. You can purchase add-ons such as NC General Statutes for $9.99, United States Code for $14.99, CA Penal Code for $1.99, and much more. Though the cost of add-ons may deter some users, it is much cheaper than buying books from Westlaw, Lexis, or some other commercial publisher and is convenient on-the-go. The app is also available on tablets, which are preferable to some users due to SmartPhones’ small screens.

If you open an add-on, you have the option of scrolling through the “table of contents” and narrowing down to your topic, or “filtering” results by keyword search. However, this option is limited to the section you have open. If you are searching for a particular topic, it must be the title of the section or you will not retrieve any results.

When you have a particular section open, you can slide the screen to the next section for easy browsing. You are provided with the option to bookmark, share, save offline, or change the font size. If you choose to bookmark a section, you can save it to a workbook that you create and add a note about the section. There does not appear to be a word limit or character count for the note you add. If you return to the workbook, where you saved the section, you can simply click to review, or hold down to select – this allows you to delete the section or edit your notes.

The app also has an RSS feed that allows you to access legal news and popular law blogs. There is not an option for searching but it can be useful if you want to read current legal news. There is a limited list of popular law blogs but you have the option of adding feeds to the list by naming the feed and including the URL.

Another free app that is comparable to dLaw is SmartLeges. This app is very similar but has the U.S. Code and some state material, specifically California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas for free. SmartLeges plans on adding more states, which would make this app preferable to dLaw because there is no cost. Both of these apps are limited but provide you with quick and convenient access to materials. For attorneys who are in the courtroom or on-the-go frequently, both can be useful when you need information the app provides. It would not serve as a replacement for other legal research resources but may be used as a supplement or for quick reference.

~ Teresa McCollum, Class of 2014 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advanced Legal Research, electronic resources, Of Interest to Law Students, Student Postings

WestlawNext App

If you’ve ever tried out WestlawNext, then you’re likely familiar with its convenient features like natural language search and folder’s option. The App for android, which you download by searching for “WestlawNext” in your Google Play store, is surprisingly just as neat and efficient. Much like the original WestlawNext, the App allows you to access your saved research from your folders as well as your recent searches.

It’s also just as easy to search using natural language; I simply typed in “what is an unexcused absence for an employee” into the search box and I received the same results as I had on the web version. The App neatly listed the top cases, statutes, regulations and administrative decisions for me. There is also a handy little “Skip To” dropbox that allows you to quickly access whichever source you prefer.

There were some downsides though; I discovered that while you can still email any documents that you may find, there is no option to print. This could be tricky if you were looking for a last minute form. Further, while you can search using natural language, you do not have an advanced search option like on the website

Another downside was the App’s “add note” tool. On the web version you can add notes on the side of the document, next to the section of the case where you’d like to comment. The App version only allows you to add a general note to the case, not a specific portion. Furthermore, since the screen on which you’re viewing the case is obviously much smaller, you have to read through the entire case to look for search terms, while the online version provides a navigation arrow to bring you straight to each term.

Cases are also viewed differently on the App version than on the web version. For some reason, rather than allowing you the option to view the case on one screen with a scroll down bar, the App version breaks up a case into separate pages. This makes it harder to refer back and forth to different sections of a case. In addition, if there is a line you need to refer to at the end of an opinion, then your only option is to continue clicking the bottom arrow to arrive at the correct page.

Yet, do not let these pure stylistic complaints deter you; the WestlawNext App still provides a great alternative to lugging around a cumbersome laptop. I found that I was also still able to keycite my research to make sure my law was valid, and simply clicking the Westlaw Next logo on the top left of the screen brought me back to the homepage where I could change research topics or browse through individual sources. Ultimately, the App proved itself worthy and I was able to quickly locate helpful sources, such as the Corpus Juris Secundum Article, Section 402, “Social Security and Public Welfare.” If you’re interested, look it up on the Westlaw Next app!

~ Nicole Puleio, Class of 2013 ~

Leave a comment

Filed under Advanced Legal Research, electronic resources, Of Interest to Law Students, Student Postings

Take a “Deep Dive” into the Pocket Justice App!

Basic Information about the App:

Pocket Justice is an app that is available on the ITunes and Android market. This App is available in a free and full version. The free version allows you to research the top 100 constitutional law issues for free. The full version costs $4.99 and contains information for all constitutional law issues.  This App is powered by the Oyez Today Project at Chicago Kent and Justia.com.

My Search:

I was interested in The Affordable Care Act based on the recent Supreme Court decision and decided to try out Pocket Justice using this research topic.

I started my search by simply beginning to type, in the search bar, “Affordable Care Act.”  Because the App’s search engine is equipped with an automatic fill feature, this search automatically pulled available cases and other resources that contained the starting letters “aff.”

Please note that this app does not provide the ability to complete Boolean strings or advanced searches. This App is only equipped with general keyword search abilities.

After selecting “The Affordable Care Act Cases,” the app immediately pulled the precedent and landmark case on this issue. The app organized the information clearly and directly, starting with the overall facts of the case/ background of the issue, then the four questions of law that were presented in the case, and the conclusions of law reached by the majority and dissent for each question of law.

There was also an interesting hyperlink, on the main page of the App, called “deep-dive.”  This link can be easily located in the first sentence of the fact section. Upon selecting this hyperlink, the link automatically pulled up a new site. This site contained a specialized web page specifically manufactured to give information about the Affordable Care Act. In particular, the site gives an in-depth overview of the procedural history of cases at the District Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court Levels. The App allows you to review each filing for the case, and also links you to oral arguments for the case and informational videos about each question of law presented in the case.

Overall, I found this app easy to navigate, and it provided a wide variety of information about the particular subject matter requested.  This app would be especially useful for research on a specific constitutional law matter or for an attorney investigating a particular constitutional law case.

~ Ashley Watlington, Class of 2013 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advanced Legal Research, electronic resources, Of Interest to Law Students, Student Postings

Application: LawBox

LawBox – Mobile Library is a free application available on Apple iOS.  LawBox offers several resources for free, including the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Federal Rules of Evidence. LawBox also offers State Rules and Codes for seven States, at a cost of $9.99 per State.

While LawBox is available on the iPhone and iPod Touch, where it really shows its potential is on the iPad.  With the extra room on the screen, you can view the source material and browser bar at the same time. You can also view the material in full-screen mode.

For a free application, there is more functionality than a simple mobile library. LawBox offers an annotation function which can be used by practitioners to search other primary and secondary sources. The annotation function incorporates Google Scholar to provide both case cites and some secondary sources. In reviewing the annotations for an examination under Rule 2004 in Bankruptcy court, Google Scholar provided a citation to a law review article available on Hein Online.

Here is where LawBox goes beyond most mobile law libraries – it allows you to go full screen into either Google Scholar or Hein Online and read the case cites or secondary resources. This is not limited to a mere static result, because LawBox automatically runs a search in Google Scholar using terms and connectors to return additional annotations. LawBox also lets you conduct your own independent search through Google Scholar, either as a basic search or an advanced search.

The limitations of the application are confined to the limitations of Google Scholar and the limited selection of State source materials. Google Scholar is not a replacement for a complete legal database, but for experienced practitioners and legal researchers who need a quick reference to primary and secondary resources while between court hearings or out meeting with clients, LawBox can function somewhere between a full legal database and a mobile law library.

LawBox offers many features for a free application. It will give instant access to federal rules and to selected State statutes and rules for around $10, plus the added ability to access Google Scholar and Hein Online directly through the application. LawBox may lose a majority of its potential users because it only offers rules and codes from seven States, so practitioners outside those jurisdictions may not be interested in the app.

Given that LawBox is a free application, there is no reason why one should not download and try the application out firsthand. I suspect, as more users try LawBox and as time goes on, LawBox will add additional States to their selection of downloadable content.

~ Michael T. Bowers, Class of 2013 ~

Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Advanced Legal Research, electronic resources, Of Interest to Law Students, Student Postings