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Four Law Libraries That Fit in Your Pocket
Posted On November 4, 2014
On-the-go legal research is an important aspect of any law professional’s career. A firm might subscribe to any number of research services, each with different features. The following comparison of popular services’ mobile apps shows how to make the most of each one, whether you’re using a smartphone, a tablet, or even a PC or Mac.


Apple App Store

Google Play Store

This legal research service, with its app for iPads, iPhones, and Android devices, features a comprehensive database of regularly updated state and federal case law and statutes, including the U.S. Code. It’s free to download, but users must create an account for the app in order to save their search history and favorite documents to their personal library. Subscriptions to Fastcase can be purchased at national appellate or national premium levels or through bar associations. Users can limit searches by phrase (Boolean or natural language) or citation, and search results can be sorted five different ways. Fastcase’s mobile versions use the same technology as its full-featured web-based service, allowing users to customize relevance-ranked search results by re-sorting them by date, court level, alphabetical order, or number of citations. Additionally, citation analysis tools explaining how often a case has been cited are automatically integrated into the search results list.


Apple App Store

HeinOnline, William S. Hein & Co., Inc.’s online research product, offers a mobile app for iPhones and iPads. This app features a legal research database that displays documents as image-based, downloadable PDF files, sorts content by citation, has a table of contents for easy navigation, and provides search functions such as browsing by volume. Users need a HeinOnline account to access the app, which is available by subscription (a core subscription package as well as a la carte options). They can also access it with IP address authentication from their subscribed institution while on campus. Inside a user’s library, the search option is always accessible in the upper-right corner. Collections with the citation navigator option display a Cite Nav button next to the Search button, and users can click on it to find citations on certain page numbers. When viewing a publication, options to download the PDF and access the table of contents appear in the upper-right corner.

Lexis Advance

Apple App Store (Lexis Advance)

Apple App Store (Lexis Advance HD)

LexisNexis’ Lexis Advance has a mobile solution that is available for iPhones and in a high-definition version for iPads. It offers comprehensive news, public records, and business and other legal information from more than 60,000 sources. Searches can be conducted using keywords or case names, or by using Boolean language. Lexis Advance subscribers can use the app to view alerts and previous search results, get remote access to saved files and folders, and “Shepardize” cases using Shepard’s Citations Service to ensure that authorities are “good law,” among other tasks. Recent enhancements to the service include a streamlined user interface, expanded table of contents capabilities, and prefiltering to allow users to narrow searches in fewer steps. Alerts are now delivered in real time, and most-used legal phrases and documents are now suggested during searches to speed the process. Expanded content includes constitutional archives, administrative code archives, and selected international titles.


Apple App Store

Google Play Store

Amazon App Store

BlackBerry App Store

Thomson Reuters’ WestlawNext has an app for iPads and Android devices. (iPhone users can access the mobile site.) Both app versions are free with a user’s WestlawNext subscription, and research is viewable offline and syncs across devices, including with the full WestlawNext site. From the app’s homepage, users can find, read, and annotate documents; organize their research; access their frequently used items, searches, and favorites; and perform other tasks. The WestSearch engine facilitates searching for legal issues or specific documents from 125 years’ worth of law analyses published by West. Documents that users save for offline viewing can be highlighted and annotated while offline. Additionally, documents can be saved into folders that are shareable with colleagues. The iPad app is customized for that specific screen size—for example, documents can be viewed in portrait or landscape mode. The Android app offers the KeyCite citation research service, which allows users to check the status of a law.

Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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