There are thousands of apps, websites, and software packages out there for practicing counsel. Many of these are tailored to a specific field of law. But how do you know what is worth your time (or money) and what is not?
Tech-savvy practitioners were interviewed for their recommendations in several areas of the law. Add your own in the comments below!
1. Our Family Wizard is an easy to use communication tool for separated parents.
2. SIX Support Information Exchange to exchange financial records in divorce cases.
3. Beam + Youtube Video for the use of a Skype-like robot top allow parents to be present with children who have moved away.
4. Courtside EDX - A web-based platform for the instantaneous service of legal documents. Through the CourtSide EDX Record of Service, members can confirm the date and time of delivery and prove the content of their served documents.
5. Child Support Recalculation Service – The Ministry of the Attorney General is rolling this out soon to allow parents to change their annual child support online.
Sole and Small Firms
1. PCLaw - Great for meeting your professional obligations with respect to trust accounting including allowing you to do reconciliations and create trust listings. It has features that help prevent you from overdrawing on a trust account. It also allows you to produce customized invoices or you can use the existing templates. It makes billing quick, easy and efficient.
2. E-courier – Used to share documents with clients. It is a Canadian service with a Canadian location. All of the data is encrypted and the encryption code is only available to you and the person or people you are sharing the documents with. For clients who do not have an account, it is easy to open a guest account for them.
3. Paperport - A software program for scanning documents that came with our Xerox Workcentre 6605 multifunction printer/scanner/copier. The scanner is a high resolution scanner which produces clear high quality scanned documents. Paperport allows documents to be saved as PDF documents that are of a reasonable size - KBs instead of MBs or GBs.
4. Quicklaw - I have just switched to Lexis Quicklaw Advance: which has some great features to make research quick and easy. I also really like the Solicitors Forms of Precedents.
5. E-laws - Ontario’s E-laws website provides Ontario statutes and regulations as well as legislative history.
1. Dropbox – Can be used to back up important data and store case law or important documents/video/audio/archive files remotely.
2. Goodreader – Primarly a PDF editing program. It allows you to store files saved in Dropbox or on your iPad and allows the user to annotate, edit and sign PDF documents. The app also allows the user to view MS Office, TXT, HTML, and pictures. You can also listen to audio or watch videos.
3. Logmein – You can access your desktop computer remotely from your digital device. Perfect when you need to access software only available on your desktop (such as PClaw or other time management software) or to access a file when you’re out of the office. It can synchronize with Dropbox, Google Docs, Box.net and Microsoft SkyDrive so you can easily access files store in the cloud.
4. Dictate+Connect – For capturing voice dictation. It turns your phone into a handheld recorder. It allows the lawyer to rewind and overwrite the dictation in the app and can run for up to 24 hours. Instantly send the sound file to a transcriber or to anyone as a verbal memo.
5. Turboscan – This app allows you to turn your digital device into a portable scanner. Allows you to create multi page pdf files of important documents and email them.
Toronto Lawyer, Legal Educator and OBA Volunteer
I'm a very busy, but punctual person. Time management is very important for me. When I'm spending hours in court waiting for a matter, I want apps that let me use my time productively, or simply keep me occupied.
1. Digital copy of the Rules of Civil Procedure (or Annotated Criminal Code). LexisNexis has had this for years, and Thomson Rogers released their own e-version in 2016 on ProView. If you don't have a physical copy, a judge might throw their version at your head unless you can refer to your phone or laptop. The digital copy will save you on at least one motion, or I'll guarantee your money back.
2. Practice management app. Most cloud-based legal accounting systems now have one, including Clio, Ulaw and MyCase. Why would you want to spend more time sitting in the office docketing after court, when you could've done it sitting in court?
3. Quicklaw and Westlaw. I don't know about you, but I read case law for fun. Especially when the matter before yours is dragging on and they're citing what sounds like an interesting case.
4. CanLii Connects - The only thing better than reading case law is reading what your peers say about it. This new feature on CanLii let's contributors add content connected to cases. Maybe you'll get some insight. Maybe you'll laugh about how wrong you think they got the law. Maybe the time will just fly by when you look at the conflicting perspectives.
5. Snapchat - Yes, there's very little practical utility to this app. But if you're stuck in court for hours waiting for a matter you can discover your inner child by making strange faces at yourself without anyone else knowing. Just make sure you're using the camera that points towards your face, and not in the other direction.
Intellectual Property Law
Founder of Heer Law
1. PATRIX IP Helpware - Provider of fully customizable IP management software named Patricia.
2. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) - Provides important information about Canadian IP protection and procedures, and includes databases for conducting searches of and reviewing status information about Canadian intellectual property filings.
3. IPPractice – Canadian IP website and blog which includes useful information about Canadian IP litigation proceedings, Canadian patent and trademark application filing statistics, and a signup for daily email updates about IP litigation proceedings in the Federal Courts.
4. US Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) – Website that contains online file histories of U.S. patent applications and patents.
5. Google Patents – A useful search engine for basic keyword searches of patents and patent applications from the Canadian (CIPO), US (USPTO), European (EPO), German (DPMA) and Chinese (SIPO) patent databases.
1. “Labour Pains” – An employment law blog for employers and employees. Published by Sean Bawden of Kelly Santini LLP.
2. “Employment and Human Rights Law in Canada” - This blog is about employment and human rights law, and technology in the workplace in Canada. Published by Lisa Stam.
3. “For Employees”, and
4. “For Employers” by the Macleod Law Firm.
5. "Case in Point” blog tracks recent case law developments in a broad range of areas that are of interest to employers and human resources professionals alike. Pulished by Hicks Morley.
1. CanLii – an invaluable website for litigators. It has made case law research accessible to all by offering a user friendly search engine, at no cost. CanLii has become an accepted reference by the courts and is ideal for quick legal research.
2. TrialPad app – an iPad app that allows litigators to easily work with and present documents during trial. Documents can be loaded easily via Dropbox and then organized and annotated by the user. Photos and videos can also be organized and prepared for presentation at trial. At trial, documents can be presented using either a projector or TV monitor.
3. Lawblogs.ca – this website provides links to Canadian legal blogs, including a significant number of blogs focusing on civil litigation. The blogs are a good tool for staying updated on case law and other developments from across the country.
4. GoodReader app – one of several available apps for working with PDF files on an iPad. These apps allow for highlighting, marking up and annotating text in a transcript, pleading or other documents.
5. Wayback Machine –archives historical versions of websites which can allow evidence to be obtained of changes or deletions made to a website over time.
About the Author
Brock Jones has been a Crown counsel for more than 10 years, with a focus on criminal law, youth criminal justice, and constitutional law. He is an Adjunct Professor of Law with the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law.
Brock is a member of the JUST. Editorial Board.