Lexis/Nexis and West offer few mobile applications compared to the relative promise of the technology. Lexis/Nexis offers one application, a free CourtLink app which is available for download from iTunes. CourtLink customers can use this app to review recent court dockets, set up Alerts and track activity on the CourtLink site- on demand. This link offers a demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poae_Yd8kBg . While this is a start, perhaps Lexis should consider following up on this app with another one for Public Records such as assets , liens and bankruptcies that would offer the same ability to set up alerts and tracks to monitor developments from anywhere.
In April of 2009, West entered the mobile market place by initiating a mobile version of Black’s Law Dictionary for iPhones available for purchase from iTunes. Their goal was to provide users with the flexibility to get definitions of key legal terms as quickly as possible.
In 2010 West extended that platform with the launch of its iPad application. Users can license the application through an app on iTunes for which you pay a one-time fee. The application can be searched via free text, alphabetical browsing, or through a search box. When the attorney locates the definition, he/she can then copy and paste it into the text of documents as needed or bookmark the term for later use. This past summer also saw the launch of the Google Android version of the Black’s Dictionary. The Android application provides the same features and functionality as the iOS-based platform.
Next, West increased its presence in the mobile market by venturing into the mobile training arena. WestLegalEdcenter made CLE Mobile available as a free download from the App Store in December of 2009. This application gives attorneys the flexibility to get CLE credit for the first time on their iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. West has recreated its web experience in a mobile application format that includes all the regulatory safeguards that states require, so that users can earn credits as they would with an on-demand program at West LegalEdcenter. Attorneys can listen to more than 5500 CLE courses wherever they are and whenever it is most convenient. CLE Mobile also gives law firms the ability to make their own CLE and training content mobile with West LegalEdcenter’s in-house training. This option allows law firms to better meet their attorneys’ needs by making their own programming even more flexible and accessible.
In 2010, CLE Mobile released Version 2, which allows users to have access to more powerful options directly from the application. These include the ability to search for programs and delete completed ones. One of the challenges that West faced in developing CLE mobile was sharing revenue with Apple for transactions that took place through their application. West and Apple could not agree on this point, and it resulted in CLE users losing their ability to purchase programs directly through the ITunes site. Instead, they had to purchase and enroll in programs on the West LegalEdcenter website and then access the content through their mobile devices.
Although accessing apps through the iTunes site is certainly familiar, convenient and seamless to iPhone users, I don’t see the absence of this feature significantly impacting usage of mobile devices for training purposes. I think that iTunes is just another way of delivering content – as opposed to being “the wave of the future”, and my conversations with West on usage trends before and after the change confirm that mobile training offers enough benefits to challenge traditional training methods. Look for the expansion of applications, features and functionality of this emerging technology as popularity grows and more providers enter the market. I’d also like to hear from readers on what new apps you would like to see from these and other vendors.