A new website provides a searchable database of mobile apps for law and lawyers, You can use it to find apps compatible with any mobile device, whether you use an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Android or Palm PC.
The site, Mobile Apps for Law, says it includes more than 800 applications, with more being added every week. You can search for an app by key words or by subject. The list of subjects includes both legal topics and jurisdictions. It ranges from “agricultural law” to “Wyoming.” You can search all apps or limit your search by device.
Search results show the title and publisher of the app, provide a description of its functionality, identify the devices with which it is compatible, gives the date when it was last updated, and lists its price. Each result includes a link to the app’s download page.
To search the site’s database, you must have a subscription. The current “special introductory price” is $25 for one year of access. The standard price is $49.99 a year.
The site is operated by Infosources Publishing, a New Jersey company that publishes reference materials for lawyers, law librarians, legal researchers and information professionals. The company is run by Arlene Eis, a professional law librarian.
Curious to see what apps there were for agricultural law, I went to the search page, chose that subject, and hit “search.” The results page showed three apps, all from the iTunes store. Two were from the company Tekk Innovations: one was the complete text of Title 7 of the U.S. Code, pertaining to agriculture, for $19.99, and the other was the corollary text of the Code of Federal Regulations, for $29.99. The third app, from the company Fitz Collings, was the text of the Texas Agriculture Code.
For comparison, I then went to the iTunes store and searched for apps using the phrase “agricultural law.” I got nothing. I then shortened the phrase to “agriculture” and found more than 60 apps that matched the search. Of these, the three mentioned above were included. But I also found two other apps from Fitz Collings, one with the text of U.S.C. Title 7 and the other with the text of C.F.R. Title 7. Notably, each of these versions were much cheaper than the other two, costing only 99 cents.
I also found two other apps arguably of interest to lawyers who practice agricultural law. One was the Tekk Innovations app providing the text of Title 36 of the CFR, pertaining to parks, forests and public property. The other was the USDA News Reader, an app providing news updates taken from the website of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Having found these additional apps, I then went back to the Mobile Apps for Law site and ran the search again. This time, however, instead of selecting the subject, “agricultural law,” I simply entered the key word, “agriculture.” This time, the search results included the two Fitz Collings’ apps that were omitted in my initial search. The results did not include the two apps I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
I asked Arlene Eis, the head of the company, about the discrepancies in my search. She said that the two apps did not appear in my subject search because of a mistake in the subjects assigned to them in the database. (They were assigned the subject “agriculture” instead of “agricultural law.”) I asked her whether the company tries to be comprehensive or selective in the apps it includes. It tries to be comprehensive, she said. “If an app does not seem to be of legal research quality, it might not be included in our database, but other than that, we are trying to include whatever we can find that we think a lawyer might want to access.”
The Bottom Line
Penny-pincher that I am, I always question the value of paying to search for something that you can search for elsewhere for free. Despite the database-tagging problem I ran into, I can see that this site could be worth the $25 entrance fee, particularly if you are a hard-core user of mobile apps.
There are plenty of search sites for apps for whichever device you use. However, few if any of them make it easy to discover law-related apps. These other sites tend to group legal apps under categories such as “reference” or “business,” but not under a separate “law” category. If you know the specific app you’re looking for, it’s easy to find it. But if you want to explore what’s available or discover new apps, the general search sites do not make it easy.
The benefit of the Mobile Apps for Law site is that someone else is doing the hunting and gathering for you. That makes it a useful way to discover new apps.
Along those lines, a suggestion to the publisher is that they add a box or page featuring new additions.