Gosh I know I’ve a lot of space on my Ipod, but do I really need to be able to check the wisdom of Bryan Garner all the time, everywhere. Our friends in Eagan MN announced the release of most recent 8th edition of Black’s Law Dictionary Application for the iPhone. It’s a unique publication – as far as I know, the first serious legal research tool released for that platform. And a big plus for Bryan, who got a great tip yesterday from William Safire in the NYT.
While today’s FT lauds Thomson-West’s acumen in building a winning strategy for applying technology to legal information, I’m sceptical about whether this one is a winner.
The release tells us: “The new iPhone application for Black’s Law Dictionary is very exciting,” says Garner. “The idea that you can have a very full, elaborate, complex and richly textured book like Black’s available at your fingertips is fantastic.”
“Black’s Law Dictionary was a logical choice for our first iPhone application,” said Justin Hummel, director, New Product Development, West. “It’s a perfect way for any legal professional or law student to take Black’s with them wherever they go.”
The development of the Black’s Law Dictionary app fell to two West employees who worked out the design and the data on a compressed product development timeline over the last few months.
“We worked a lot of things out as we went along. There was no book that told us how to develop and test an iPhone app,” said Dan Bennett, senior director, New Product Technology, West. “Getting it to fly, so to speak, is a bit of a trick. We learned so much about the platform from building Black’s that will really help us make future apps.” <
“I knew we could make an app that our customers would really love – one that would help them do their jobs better and interact more easily with the law. Black’s Law Dictionary gave us that chance,” said Jay Peyer, senior software engineer, Application Technology, West.
You can buy the Black’s Law Dictionary app from Apple’s iTunes for $49.99. The ABA notes that the price is a bit steep compared to most of the freebies or less-than-a-dollar applications many are used to seeing. The Federal Rules of Evidence are available on The Law Pod app for 99 cents. And the U.S. Constitution is available in a number of apps for free or for a nominal price.
Safire’s plug reads:
Garner on Language and Writing, by Bryan A. Garner (American Bar Association, $60, but worth it for 800 pages and a thorough index, which is becoming a lost art). Lawyers who care about precise but not stuffy prose turn to Garner as editor of “Black’s Law Dictionary,” and we usagists have handy the sensibly centrist “Garner’s Modern American Usage.”
In his current compilation of a lifetime’s profound essays and speeches, Garner wades into language and legal controversy and often lets his hair down. He recalls a breakfast with Justice Antonin Scalia, who declared that he cared a great deal about words and their proper use. “There’s a word for people like me,” Scalia said. “An essayist in Harper’s coined it.” Garner helped out by recollecting SNOOT, an acronym for “Syntax Nudniks of Our Time,” described by the novelist David Foster Wallace as “this reviewer’s nuclear family’s nickname à clef for a really extreme usage fanatic, the sort of person whose idea of Sunday fun is to hunt for mistakes in the very prose of Safire’s column.” (Those misteakes are inserted by subversive copy editors.)