Legal news company ALM today rolled out a set of apps for iPhones and iPads covering 14 of its national and regional publications.
The apps, which can be downloaded from at.law.com/apps, cover the the following publications:
- The American Lawyer.
- Corporate Counsel.
- Law Technology News.
- The National Law Journal.
- Connecticut Law Tribune.
- Daily Business Review.
- Daily Report Online.
- Delaware Business Court Insider.
- Delaware Law Weekly.
- New Jersey Law Journal.
- New York Law Journal.
- Texas Lawyer.
- The Legal Intelligencer.
- The Recorder.
A press release issued by ALM today says this:
The apps offer a superior and faster reading experience than what is possible through a smartphone or tablet Web browser. They also provide offline reading capability so users can view news stories and other articles even when they are not connected to the Web.
I had a different experience when I tried the app for The National Law Journal. The screenshot at right shows what is supposed to be the “front page.” This is not what you’d expect for a news outlet’s front page. It seems to bear little relation to the stories that appear on the NLJ’s web front page. Further, it lists items out of context, leaving the reader confused. Why, for example, is the name of the law firm Sidley Austin listed there? When I click through to the article, I find it is a profile of the firm, and I have to guess that it has something to do with the recently published NLJ 350. But that is purely a guess on my part — the app offers no context.
This may not be the fault of the app, however. The mobile version of the NLJ web page shows virtually the same front page as the app and is just as confusing.
On top of all that, the app was slow on my iPhone, with pages taking several seconds to load and in one case more than five minutes over a strong 3G connection. And I could find no way to save content for offline reading, although that may be because the app already downloaded it to my device. A “help” page would be helpful here.
The press release goes on to say:
The apps are being sponsored by leading financial and legal institutions who are providing end-users free complimentary access to the content during the launch sponsorship.
That’s a good thing, I guess. It means that some content that might otherwise be behind a paywall is available here thanks to the sponsor. In fact, if you look at the NLJ front page using the iPhone’s Safari browser, several of these stories are locked. If you look at the same stories using the app, they are unlocked.
If you regularly follow any of these ALM publications, its app might prove handy. But given my admittedly brief experience using the NLJ app, I would like to see editorial and navigational enhancements to make it clearer to the reader what stories are about and why they’re there.