Update: iPad for Lawyers – Not Just a Toy

An earlier SLAW post by me commented on the fun aspects of the iPad.

Since then, in addition to my personal Gmail email, I have added my work email to the iPad email client, along with syncing my work Calendar and Contacts, and now regard the iPad as a true BlackBerry replacement (to the point on my recent work trip to the United States I left my laptop and BlackBerry at home, making do quite nicely with only the iPad, relying on WiFi at the hotel and conference centre and using the Skype app for when I needed a phone).

Having work email, along with my Calendar and Contacts, makes the unit much more functional. I also use it for note-taking and checking the Internet in meetings. My only regret remains the relatively slow speeds I get when using 3G (whereas WiFi is consistently fast). I also need to activate the RSA SecureID app (to remotely access work applications) before I can entirely replace the BlackBerry (since my RSA tokens currently reside on my BlackBerry).

What follows is a list of some of the better work-related apps I find useful, along with mention of some of the better “fun” apps:

Screenshot of the iTranslate App for iPad

  • iTranslate: I am very impressed with this translation app (it was free, with ads, but I paid the extra $2.99 to get the full, ad-free version). It translates over 50 languages and includes 11 voices. It is very easy to enter or paste text and to switch between languages. Although not qualified to vouch for the accuracy of most of its languages, it appeared to have no problem with my attempts to trick it translating from English to Japanese or French (the screenshot shows the correct translation into Japanese of the phrase “My dog’s name is Yuko”).
  • Soundview Executive Book Summaries: Although this is not an iPad app per se, I paid for an online subscription to this book summary service and read the summaries on my iPad, usually in PDF format (although the service provides multiple formats, including .MP3). I only recently got this subscription and the "jury is still out". On the one hand, it is expensive and I feel guilty/lazy reading only summaries. On the other hand, it does expose me to a much wider variety of business-related titles that I otherwise would not likely be exposed to.
  • xFeed: I find I still don’t read my RSS feeds on the iPad. I have installed this RSS Reader, which seems quite good. However, I think it is simply a matter of not equating the iPad with the habit of checking feeds. I tend instead to simply go to Google News on the iPad when I am in the mood to "catch up" on news.
  • TED app: No this isn’t what you might think (although I am toying with creating a legal research app for the iPad). And this one sort of straddles work and fun. This is an app providing free, easy access to the Ted Talks (did you know that TED in this situation is an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design?).

Now for the purely fun stuff:

  • Netflix: I went for the "first month free" option and have been too lazy to cancel the subscription (so assume I am now paying monthly for this service). Content is dated but I am enjoying re-watching Season 1 of Rescue Me, one of the better TV shows out there.
  • Lineup 2: This is a fairly silly (but free) "blocks" game (with the blocks appearing from the bottom, moving up (opposite to Tetris). Perfect for passing time while on the subway when I am too tired to do substantive work.
  • Sudoku: I have tried various Sudoku apps but find the one I usually play at least once per day is Sudoku 2 HD Pro.

The other lesson I have learned is that, although I have purchased some of the more expensive racing or hockey games, their "re-play" value is extremely low. Instead, the games I play the most tend to be the cheaper ones (e.g., Doodle Jump, although my high score remains a relatively low 31, 002). The Fotopedia World Heritage app is a free app with an amazing 25,000 photos of UNSECO World Heritage and other sites. The New York Times crossword puzzle app remains “high value” and I find that I have purchased and read more books on the Kindle app in the last few months than I have read in years.


  1. Glad you’re enjoying the iPad. You might want to take a look at these apps as well.

    Good writing tools are something of a problem but I find these are useful:
    Pages—the Apple word processor.
    IA Writer—the best of the simple text editors, if only because it allows you to move your cursor via the built-in keyboard.
    Office HD—lets you work with Word docs.

    Getting stuff onto and off the iPad is also a bit of work (apart from syncing with iTunes); the best solution I’ve found:
    Dropbox—the absolutely essential tool in anyone’s arsenal, whether iPad, laptop or desktop. This repository syncs with the writing tools mentioned above and is your gateway in and out when you’re away from your main machine.

    Other suggestions:
    Evernote for iPad is good. And I’m still playing with the tools that let you write cursively and draw with your fingertips: Noteshelf is the latest. For an RSS reader NetNewsWire is my favourite. And Instapaper for grabbing web stuff to read later is essential. And AirDisplay is kind of a kick, because it turns your iPad into a second monitor for your desktop or laptop machine; surprisingly, having that extra and separate bit of monitor space can be helpful at times.

  2. Thanks – I should have included the apps you mention since I have all of them (except the RSS readers you mention) and agree on their usefulness. Will try out the RSS readers shortly.

    I was frustrated to learn that it appears that iPads in Japan appear to be “locked” into 3G contracts, meaning – realistically – that I will be forced to rely on WiFi when visiting there shortly. I was sort of hoping to buy a 3G sim card while there but that does not seem like an option.

  3. I really like the iAnnotate app for marking up the pdf versions of things like caselaw. It is very handy and the lawyers who I have recommended it to like it as well.

  4. Thanks for sharing, Ted!

    Simon, have you found a way to move documents up to the Dropbox from the iPad, or just pull them down from Dropbox? I’m frustrated that I can’t seem to move them back in.

    I am finding this an increasingly important tool for my work as well.

    I also recommend some of the ereaders, thoroughly enjoying the Kobo ereader app. I’ve always been an avid reader, and this is allowing me somehow to read even more.

  5. Connie, it’s a bit of a mess with the iPad right now. Here’s how it looks to me:

    Pages – You can send a document from Dropbox to Pages—but you can’t send it back to Dropbox. So you have to email it into Dropbox via Habilis “the email to Dropbox gateway”: http://www.gethabilis.com/

    IA Writer and Plain Text both sync with Dropbox coming and going.

    And QuickOffice syncs with Dropbox both ways as well, and it handles .doc and .docx files.

  6. Thanks for the post, Ted. You’ve listed some great apps I’m going to try out. Here are some of the more useful ones I’ve found:

    1. Documents to Go (or DocsToGo) allows you to create and edit Word, Excel and PPT files. Formatting abilities are limited, but otherwise works well for editing these documents. Syncs with Dropbox.

    2. SmartNote – allows you to take notes free hand and annotate PDF documents. A little cumbersome to use – you have to create a Notebook for every document. But great for students to take notes in class or edit and highlight notes. Syncs with Dropbox.

    3. AudioNote – Allows you to take notes free-hand or through the keyboard while recording at the same time, Syncs the recording with the notes so that on later preview, you can point to parts of the text and it’ll play back the recording from that point. Great for taking notes in lectures or when taking notes while consulting with clients (of course, recording with their permission). Syncs over wi-fi or through email.

    I love Flipboard – it extracts links and pictures from your twitter feed and lays it out like a magazine. An attractive way to read twitter. Also, you can set up different “magazines” for separate users on twitter and read their feeds separately in this format. (I’m reading Slaw on Flipboard right now). The limitation is that it only works with feeds that post their blog links on twitter.

    If you drive, BeatTheTraffic is a great free app. Gives you almost real time (maybe off by a few minutes?) traffic conditions on all major highways on a colour-coded map. As far as I can tell, it works on all of North America, though I’ve only ever used it in the GTA

  7. Simon, thank you. I didn’t think of emailing from Pages to DropBox. I can’t figure out how to load back up from QuickOffice to DropBox, but perhaps it does it automatically? I will have to look into it.

    Sapna, a friend just told me about AudioNote and FlipBoard also. I will have to take a look.

  8. The appeal of the Blackberry over the iPad, other than gauranteed encryption security, is that it isn’t enticing to use time-wasting but amusing “apps”. iPad App addiction, especially with “entertainment” apps, is a problem just like internet accessible pornography became. I hope you’re not using unencrypted/unsecured communication of client related information and billing clients for learning Apps and/or the irrelevant use of them.