General Legal Research Apps

App is short for software application. Apps are designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers, and other mobile devices, not on desktops. They are usually obtained from the Apple App Store (for iOS mobile devices—iPads, iPhones, and sometimes iPod Touch), Google Play (for Android mobile devices—phones and tablets), or the Windows Phone Store. Sometimes there are also Apps for Blackberry devices. For each App listed below, we will indicate if it is currently available for iOS or Android devices. It’s always a good idea to go online and check to see if any of the iOS Apps we mention are now available for the Android and vice versa.

To search for and download legal research apps, locate the “App Store” icon on your device. You usually have to know the exact name of the App, so they are not that easy to find. To help you find useful Apps, we list a sampling by topic or practice area and have also listed sites and books where you can find more, such as:

Here are legal research apps by category:

COURT RULES

  • Litigator (iOS): mobile access (search by keyword or rule number) to the Federal Rules of Appellate, Civil, and Criminal Procedure; the Federal Rules of Evidence; the Supreme Court Rules of Procedure; Title 18; Title 28; and Local Rules for federal courts for $14.99.
  • Rulebook (iOS): mobile access to federal and state court rules using full-text searching. You can highlight text, add notes, copy, print, and/or bookmark text. The app and the Federal Rules of Evidence are free, but it will cost anywhere from $1.99 to $4.99 to purchase other rules.
  • dLaw (Android): free federal court rules that allow users to search, bookmark, copy, share, and annotate text. Other apps are available for purchase (state codes, U.S. Code, U.S. Supreme Court cases, Code of Federal Regulations, Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) and the Uniform Commercial Code.
  • LawStack (iOS): claims to be a “legal library in your pocket.” The free app includes the U.S. Constitution and various Federal Rules. For $1.99 you can also purchase California, New York, and Texas Civil Codes.
  • LexisNexis CourtLink (iOS): a “free” app to those already subscribing to CourtLink; it can be used to set up alerts to follow specific cases or find recently filed cases in a specific practice area or involving certain parties.

LAW DICTIONARIES

  • Black’s Law Dictionary (iOS and Android): $54.99.
  • Nolo’s Plain English Law Dictionary (iOS and Android): The iOS App is free, but Nolo’s Droid version is $16.19.

CASE LAW

  • PushLegal (iOS, Android, and Blackberry): search annotated case law (linking to Google Scholar), statutes (California, Delaware, Florida, New York, and Texas), and court rules. There is a 30-day trial. Law students have free access.
  • Fastcase (iOS and Android): free even to non-subscribers, but they will need to register with Fastcase to use the app. The app allows you to search cases and statutes by keyword or citation and limit the search by jurisdiction and date. The Authority feature is also available on the app. If you mark a case as a Favorite when researching from your computer, your favorites will automatically be synced to your iPhone, iPad, and Android Fastcase App. If you Save a document when you are researching from the Fastcase App, that document will be synced to your computer and all your other mobile devices. You can print the document when you later log into your Fastcase account on your computer by clicking My Library and then clicking Go to Recent Documents. See Chapter 9 to learn about using Fastcase on your computer.
  • Casemaker (BlackBerry, iOS, and Android): free only to subscribers who register for the mobile app using their iPhone or Android mobile devices. See Chapter 8 on Casemaker to learn what’s available and how to search.

CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS

  • See dLaw and LawStack, discussed in this chapter under the Court Rules section.

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD

  • Congressional Record (CR) (iOS): The Library of Congress offers the CR for free from 1995–present. Using your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, you can keyword search the CR, copy text, save text as a PDF, and e-mail it.

THE U.S. CONSTITUTION

  • Constitution of the United States (iOS): includes the text and audio versions of the Constitution for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPad for $0.99. Google Play also has apps relating to the U.S. Constitution.
  • See also LawStack in the Court Rules Section of this chapter

STATE STATUTES

  • See LawStack noted earlier in the Court Rules section in this chapter.
  • See Casemaker, PushLegal, and Fastcase noted earlier in the Case Law section in this chapter.

UNITED STATES CODE

  • U.S.C. (iOS): a free iPad app to search the United States Code by keyword or citation. You can bookmark sections and even forward sections through email.
  • See also LawStack in the earlier Court Rules section in this chapter.
  • See also Casemaker, PushLegal, and Fastcase.

 

Free and Low Cost Legal Research Resources
This post was adapted from the Law Practice Division’s publication Internet Legal Research on a BudgetIn this book, explore how you can conduct legal research without breaking the bank. Authors Carole Levitt and Judy Davis share the top websites, apps, blogs, Twitter feeds, and crowd-sourced resources that will save you time, money, and frustration.

Learn More

 

(Image Credit: ShutterStock)

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