Not too many people would claim that pursuing a career in the legal profession is easy. In fact, it is often cited as one of the most demanding industries to work in, thanks to the many years of college required to enter the field of law, along with the stipulation that you must pass the bar exam to practice. And if you want to be accepted into a prestigious firm you’ll have to receive top marks in all the above. Sadly, the hard work doesn’t end there. Once you’ve got a job you can look forward to massive overtime (60-80 hour work weeks) while you prove yourself and move up the chain to eventually secure a position as a partner. And when you’ve spent many years paying your dues you might even consider establishing your own firm. Whew, that sounds like a lot of work! Luckily, there are some resources out there that can make your job a bit easier, and the WestlawNext app could prove very useful indeed.
The app itself is free to download (for the iPad only), but you will have to pay for a WestlawNext subscription to access the information that makes it worthwhile. This isn’t some app for college kids to fiddle around with; it’s meant for serious lawyers seeking ways to access the statutes and cases that will make or break their business, and considering that you can write it off as a business expense it may be worth the cost. There’s no doubt that the functionality of the app is appealing; the long and short of it is that this app allows you to search a massive database of legal files for particular topics or keywords, an invaluable tool for many in the legal profession. But it does more than that.
When you find what you’re looking for you can receive the entire file in PDF format for perusal, save relevant snippets of information, and highlight, annotate, and add notes. You can also store files offline and email entire documents or snippets for later retrieval. And of course, the app has an organization feature that allows for the creation of folders (with recent improvements that let you to create a folder as you’re saving a document). In addition, you may search and browse within the library, refer back to your search history if you failed to save something, and even keep a list of favorites. In short, it’s like having a digital law library at your fingertips.
Nearly everyone working in the legal profession can benefit from downloading this app (although if you’re a criminal lawyer in Toronto, you might not see the need to access American case law). In general, Westlaw’s wide slate of services is enough to recommend them to those operating in the legal theater. But that this app lets you pack around a virtual law library in a 1.5-pound tablet is a major bonus. And the fact that you can use it to search, save, and send relevant data at a moment’s notice makes it more than worthwhile to have when you’re working in the legal field.
Thanks to Evan Fischer for this guest post. He is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.