Originally published on March 24, 2014 in our free BigLaw newsletter. Instead of reading BigLaw here after the fact, sign up now to receive future issues in realtime.
While large law firms have bought into mobile websites, most remain skeptical of mobile apps. However, some firms have launched apps. In this issue of BigLaw, LawFirmMobile Blog co-founder Matt Gross (with help from co-founder Neil Rosenbaum) shares his picks for the five best new large firm mobile apps based on criteria such as content, design, and innovation. All five apps are free so you can take a closer look without having to submit an expense report. Also, don't miss the BigLaw Pick of the Week (newsletter only) for yet another report on large firm revenue shrinkage.
THE FIVE BEST NEW LARGE LAW FIRM MOBILE APPS
At LawFirmMobile Blog, we see a lot of large law firms attempt to build mobile apps. Some of these apps provide useful content or services, while others fall fairly flat. In our recent report, we combed through the Am Law 200 and Global 100 to see which firms have apps.
Despite the fact that the majority of US consumers have a smartphone (and likely nearly all corporate counsel), few law firms have developed a mobile strategy. As you know from your own use, a native app provides a better and faster experience than a mobile website. For example, on your smartphone do you use the calendar app or its web counterpart, the email app or webmail, your bank's app or its website, an airline's app or its website? You get the idea.
Here are the statistics:
• 36 firms in the AmLaw 200 have built an app.
• 28 firms in the Global 100 have built an app.
By contrast, the mobile web has steadily made gains at large law firms. Large firms continue to implement mobile websites at a much faster rate than mobile apps. This is likely because mobile websites present an easier to understand value proposition to law firms than apps. A mobile website works on all smartphones.
The Five Best New Apps
Despite the fact that very few law firms have built mobile apps and that many of those apps suffer from poor design, there is a bright side. The total number of apps produced by large law firms is up 62% year over year. And some of them are very good.
In this issue of BigLaw we highlight the five best apps. Our criteria include design and innovation. We especially like those apps that fill a gap or experiment with a new approach to provide value to users. These law firms will benefit as existing and prospective clients discover use their apps. Keep in mind that while we focused on the iPhone versions of these apps here, many are available on Android and other platforms.
Who would have guessed that a law firm with a famous New York mayor among its partners would build an app solely focused on fracking. My family lives in Marcellus Shale territory, so I actually follow this issue with some interest. Bracewell & Giuliani has combined a sharp graphical look with deep knowledge about the gas shale industry. By focusing on a niche area, they delivered a differentiated app that could prove very useful.
Having just finished watching the finale of Breaking Bad, I can understand that paranoid feeling that the federal authorities might be lined up across the street ready to break down my door. DLA Piper has designed an app for just this scenario and many others. In all seriousness, there is a wealth of information here on civil liberties and personal rights that could prove valuable for many people.
In this app, Latham & Watkins has produced a reference guide for anyone with business dealings overseas worried about over-stepping legal boundaries. By diving deep into the definitions of bribery and other forms of corruption, this app provides a lot of useful information about how to navigate in geographic regions with different cultural and legal norms.
With a novel design, the Sutherland SALT Shaker app provides a resource on important state and local tax (SALT) developments. Features include tax developments searchable by state or topic, interactive US maps, and alerting of new SALT developments. The most interesting feature is the Pet of the Month award for firm members and their friends.
I'll preface this one by saying that the design and implementation of this app are not perfect, but we included the app for the content. Data breaches occur more frequently yet the state by state patchwork of laws makes this area of law extremely difficult to understand. The app lists 46 states with data breach laws, HIPAA/HITECH statutes, and links to related information such as COPPA and credit monitoring services.
Matt Gross is co-founder of LawFirmMobile.com Blog and founder of Mobile Monday Boston.
Neil Rosenbaum (a.k.a The App Guy) is co-founder of LawFirmMobile.com Blog.
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