Keeping up with the changes is synonymous with the legal profession. The success of the profession lies in keeping up with the dynamics of law and its practice. Legal research is pivotal to competitiveness in the profession. Failing to keep up with the ever-changing environment could result in having to play catch up.
Membership in law libraries has always been an integral element of a legal professional’s life – right from his days in law school till the end of his practicing career. Even in this age of digitization, where detailed information can be accessed from a tab or a smartphone, brick and mortar libraries and physical books are still very important since, according to an article in the ABA Journal’s May 2013 issue, only less than a quarter of the various unique volumes available in law libraries in the US have gone through the digitization process. As an attorney or lawyer, you’d want to keep visiting the law library.
Legal Information Apps
Attorneys have already embraced apps. The availability of vital legal information as apps is one of the greatest assets for attorneys. Apps do not consume physical space as books do, and they can give you just the information you need, when you need it. There are various pricing options offered by law app publishers, and so you should find the one that best suits your needs. Apps also facilitate individual downloading of chapters or sections, keeping you from having to download an entire e-book.
While the security concerns would still surface in the minds of lawyers, it is inevitable that they would embrace cloud computing. Its benefits certainly make it worthwhile. For law firms, that means easy sharing of data among staff while for attorneys it gives the freedom to work on the file from any possible location. There is also no danger of hardware unreliability interfering with the storage of the data. It is safe to say that cloud computing will become a major element of legal research. Of course, security reasons would demand regulation and limitation of the kind of files that can be stored in a cloud.
With regard to this, it is good news that security measures are being strengthened by cloud providers. Google has already begun testing the encryption possibilities of Google Drive-uploaded files. Of course, there are also open-source programs which can be used for encrypting sensitive files before they’re uploaded to Google Drive or other cloud networks.
Data Storage and Usage Apps
Lawyers can make use of many apps out there for data storage or, more appropriately, data use. Dropbox enables sharing files between devices – tabs, smartphones, laptops, and more. Files that are shared to the Dropbox folder get automatically shared with devices which the attorney has authorized, which means the lawyer could take any of these devices with him/her to court and the data will be in there without having to physically copy the files to the device the attorney is carrying.
When it comes to document management for your iPad, ReaddleDocs does the job pretty well. For starters, it can easily access multiple types of files including PDFs, Apple iWork, MS Office docs, and videos. However, the main function of ReaddleDocs, which is annotating text, can only be done on PDF files. So while many file formats can be viewed, they would need to be converted PDFs to be annotated – underlining, highlighting, strike-out, etc. Text files can also be created. Legal professionals would know just how useful this app could be, particularly when it comes to annotating and reading trial transcripts and depositions.
Outsourcing Legal Research
The next significant trend is legal research outsourcing taking over, and has already begun en masse. Legal process outsourcing brings expertise into the equation, not to mention the cost savings which are vital for a law firm. The smart tools they bring to the table can help attorneys to work efficiently and bring about a more efficient data management system. Their tools could help attorneys plan their case better and improve their chances of success.
Ultimately, not only is legal research more integral now for the attorney or law firm than ever before, but there are also myriad methods of research available. It is up to lawyers to identify the most appropriate methods and the right tools to enhance their competitive edge.