Ten Best Essential iPad Apps for the Family Law Divorce Attorney

Apple sold 17 million iPads in the quarter ending June 30th. There are 225,000+ apps specifically for the iPad. Finding those that are useful for our day-to-day family law practice can be daunting. However, others have trailblazed for us, including Tom Mighell, iPad in One Hour for Lawyers (ABA).

In the Technology Committee teleconference, yesterday I was asked to prepare this memo about apps and the workshops described below.

The list of apps below is complied from the collective experience of many, which continues to evolve. The latest interation is sparked by the 2012 Texas Advanced Family Law Course in Houston, not only by the direct technology lectures (generally using static PowerPoint screenshots interspaced with the talking head of the speaker, including Jim McLaren), but then also from workshops where lawyers actually demonstrated how they used their iPads.

The workshops were mentioned in the brochures for the course and by the course directors in opening announcements. No one could sign up for the workshops until they arrived at the conference. The originally planned three workshops were “sold out” by the coffee break on the first morning, and a fourth workshop was added. The workshops occurred on the second day of the course, in direct competition to the main course lectures. The workshop room was set up for sixty with tables and chairs, and also had the display screen and projector. The presenters had a video switcher so we could go back and forth with our iPads as appropriate. For example, while I would be demonstrating the use of TrialPad, Reggie Hirsch would briefly switch to his iPad which he used as a video camera and the audience could watch the actual manipulation (keystrokes) of the iPad and how the program looked on the producing lawyer’s iPad. We could then toggle to the intended display results on the screen.

All of us who taught the workshops learned from it; participants were encouraged to ask questions or suggest another way of doing things. We opened by asking “Who has an iPad? Who uses it to check email? Who has used it at trial?” In fact, when Tom Vick demonstrated SignMyPad mentioned below, a family court judge came up after the presentation and proudly showed how he was using a similar program and how he that day during the conference had issued signed memoranda of opinion and emailed them to lawyers (who are also attending the course).

So the listing of acts below is an amalgam of many people’s uses and feelings, but there is an evolving consensus of the usefulness of many of the apps below.

Cost? You pay $200+ to get the MicroSoft Office Suite on your desktop computer. You need to spend a like amount on these apps, with TrialPad being by far the most expensive at $90. Many useful apps are free, until you upgrade to the premium level of service (Drop Box, FastCase).

So all of the following apps have the “use tested” seal of approval of one or more experienced family law attorneys who are also relatively tech-savvy.

  1. Drop Box. (Free) Drop Box is the way to get documents from your desktop computer (or your paralegal’s desktop computer) into the Cloud where you retrieve it and use it on your iPad. As simple as that. It is the first step for usability of your iPad.
  2. Quick Office Pro HD. ($20) Allows opening and editing MicroSoft Office documents. If you are a Word Perfect shop, get Word Perfect Viewer. ($6) (Will not allow editing though)
  3. Good Reader. ($5) Ability to open, view, markup, highlight, and annotate. Also iAnnotate ($10).
  4. Fast Case. (Free) Legal research site that directly competes with Westlaw and Lexis. Includes statutory and case law for all jurisdictions.
  5. Key Note. ($10) Apple’s PowerPoint. Slideshark (free) allows you to also open and edit PowerPoints.
  6. SignMyPad. ($4) Allows you to insert your signature into a pdf.
  7. Objections 2 ($5) A reminder list of objections and links to the actual rules of your jurisdiction.
  8. PDF Expert. Scan and create PDFs. Annotater.
  9. Trial Pad. ($90) The most useful presentation tool. All it takes is one hearing and you will be glad you have it. It is easy and intuitive to use. You can “rivet” attention on your manipulation of the document being displayed better than with any other iPad app. If you want to start with training wheels. If you do not want to spend $90, at least spend $10 and get Exhibit A ($10).
  10. Texas Specific Apps:

TexasLegal ($25 per year) A compendium of all statutes in the state. Can download (and keep on your iPad) what you want, such as the Texas Family Code. Annotations come from Google Scholar.

Texas Child Support ($8) (or ProCalc for ProDoc users) Calculates guideline child support.

  • Skype. (Free) For interviewing witnesses or others.
  • Dragon. (Free) Dictation.
  • RDPLite (Free) Puts you on your desktop computer from your iPad. (When you have the hole from the outside into your computer.)
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Raggio & Raggio, PLLC is based in Dallas, Texas. We represent clients throughout North Texas, in the cities of Dallas, Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Richardson, Irving, Highland Park, University Park, Park Cities, Garland, Mesquite, Rockwall, Fort Worth and Denton, as well as Dallas County, Denton County, Tarrant County and Rockwall County.