Hopefully you 1L, 2L, and 3L students still have some glimmer of summer left. My first-year glimmer and enthusiasm quickly faded, and by second year, I was a full-fledged member of the “get me out of law school” secret society. We had our own handshake. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my time at school, I just wish I had a greater practical learning experience. What added to my stress even further was the seemingly insurmountable pile of worthless notes, study guides, handouts, casebooks, and who-knows-what-else, that came along with the daily trudge to school. I found I quickly needed a way to manage and contain the chaos.
Computers are revolutionizing the way we learn, and Android devices are fueling the revolution. As a new law student, I would actually consider purchasing and using one of the high-performance Android tablets, such as the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity. In fact, based on my current experience with the TF700T and keyboard, you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that you couldn’t do all of your school work on a tablet. With the mobile keyboard, the Asus becomes a force to be reckoned with when it comes to mobile computing. Add in some apps, and you’re on your way.
The first app I’d have is Google Drive. While it’s not MS Word, and I have my concerns about privacy (and here), Google Drive can get the job done, especially when you’re talking briefs, motions, or other papers.
My second app is a take your pick kind of app. While I prefer Evernote for note-taking, OneNote Mobile (see my review) has a special place in my heart for its organization, simplicity, and ease-of-use. For sure, if you purchase the Asus, you’re going to want to use Supernote to type or write your notes. Is it still a “computer” if you’re taking notes by hand?
Third, I don’t think you could survive law school without Fastcase or Westlaw. While I don’t know for sure whether your student account can access Westlaw Next, I’m sure your browser can get you there just fine. Also, don’t forget to pick up the Westlaw Rewards points for cool and free stuff. If you’re in real dire straights, don’t forget about Google Scholar. It’s free, and probably contains most of the cases you’re using anyway.
If you’re a law student still using a thumb drive, for shame! With Dropbox, you’re never going to be without your files or documents, and you don’t have to worry about the dreaded thumb drive failure at finals (and if you don’t know what that is, you will.) Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. Dropbox is 2 GB; it’s free; and it doesn’t get lost from your backpack or pocket.
I’m certainly going to recommend that you grab a Google+ account, not only to sync your information and documents, but also to “Hangout,” which are 10 person video conferences allowing you to share documents, images, computers, etc, all for free.
If you’re looking to go “book free” this year, you’ll probably want to grab a great scanner app, such as Handy Scanner Pro. While you’ll spend the same amount of time copying pages, you’ll save more than the cost of the app in copies, not to mention the trees. Though, truth be told, I’m up for gouging back at the law school for my tuition any way I can.
If you’re scanning to PDF, you’ll need an intelligent PDF editor, such as ezPDF. You’ll need to OCR the page before opening with ezPDF and editing, but at least you can get to the pages, if you need them.
1L students may want to skip the hard books and grab dLaw’s copies of the Federal Rules of Evidence and Civil Procedure. For a small fee, you can also add state-specific Addons to improve the database. dLaw is good in non-internet situations where you need quick access to the rules or laws.
Don’t forget another one of my favorites, RealCalc, which you can use to calculate all of that student loan debt you’re accumulating. This is a scientific calculator, which for lawyers is probably more science than you’ll ever be exposed to, and packs a punch for serious calculations. Word of advice: do not calculate the per credit cost of law school versus your first year salary. Trust me, you’ll be sick.
I’d like to hear what you think are some of the essential Android apps for law students, so leave your comments below, or contact me at email@example.com.