Next month I will be a panelist at the Indiana State Bar Association annual meeting, where we will discuss apps for attorneys on the go. In anticipation of that event, I thought I would share my preliminary list here and ask if anyone has additional suggestions.
- TrialPad. This app could just be the “killer app” that puts the iPad in the hands of many lawyers. At first, many will be shy of the $89.99 price (which is one of the highest in the App Store), but compared to other trial presentation software on the market, it’s dirt cheap. It is not, however, some half-baked application. TrialPad is a full-featured trial presentation app. You load up your exhibits or video, and during the trial you can enlarge parts of an exhibit, draw on them John Madden-style, highlight items, and more. This is not some puny PDF reader. All you need is your iPad, a cable to connect your iPad to a VGA-capable projector, and you’re set. Check out the TrialPad web site for more information.
- Things. Lawyers live and die by to-do lists, and there are a number of task management apps on the iPad. Things, by Cultured Code, is one of the top two in my book. Things features an intuitive interface based on the Getting Things Done system: an in-box and folders—which is what lawyers might call cases or projects. You can tag your to-do items, assign priorities, and even use areas of responsibility (such as “managing partner” or “soccer team coach”) to keep an eye on things that may not have a specific project. What makes Things great is that it syncs nicely with the Mac OS application, as well as the iPhone app. Put your to-do item in one, and you’re synced across all three devices. Things for the iPad is $19.99, and worth every one of those pennies.
- OmniFocus. OmniFocus is the other top task management app in my view. At $39.99, it’s not cheap, but then great software shouldn’t be cheap. OmniFocus began as a Mac application created by the Omni Group. Their goal was to create an app designed from the ground up to use Getting Things Done, and they achieved that goal. When Omni Group announced that OmniFocus would come to the iPad, hardcore GTD enthusiasts began salivating. When OmniFocus was released for the iPad, those of us waiting anxiously were blown away. This app did not simply “port” the desktop application and interface to the iPad. This app was also designed from the ground up to take advantage of the iPad’s interface, and it is a master work. As you might expect, OmniFocus syncs with the desktop application (as well as the iPhone app). What makes OmniFocus for the iPad rise above its competition is its Forecast mode, which lets you see how many deadlines are approaching. It also interfaces with iCal so you can see if you have a day full of appointments AND full of to-do items.
Is OmniFocus better than Things? In a way it’s like asking whether an Audi is better than a BMW. Both have their strengths, and I have to confess that I regularly shift back and forth between the two because I like them both a lot.
- OmniOutliner. Another app by Omni Group, this is a powerful outlining tool. (Omni Group says “it’s like paper, only better.” They may be right.) OmniOutliner is the perfect app for preparing just about anything: notes for oral arguments, witness examinations, notes of meetings, anything you want. Pair OmniOutliner up with a wireless keyboard, and you have a powerful tool. (OmniOutliner can also read and write documents created with its desktop sibling, OmniOutliner for Mac.) At $19.99, OmniOutliner can cut down on the costs of your legal pad supply. I don’t know what I would do without it.
- Emerald Observatory. I will admit up front that this really isn’t a lawyer’s app. But if there’s one app I’d have on my iPad just for show, purely to satisfy the need for eye candy, Emerald Observatory would be it. It’s a gorgeous clock with loads of astronomical information. You owe it to yourself to click on the link just to see how beautiful the app is. Lawyers who prosecute and defend personal injury cases can find this app useful for one thing: if you happen to need to know at what time civil, nautical or astronomical twilight began or ended on a particular date, you can find out with Emerald Observatory. At ninety-nine cents, it’s little wonder that this app has been chosen twice by Apple as a featured staff favorite on the iTunes Store.