Law librarian ranks top 10 iPhone apps for law students

I realize that I am a latecomer to this craze. Like most Apple products, I was content to admire from afar. However, this past July, I decided to join the ranks of the uber-cool and purchase myself the geek’s most powerful tool in the arsenal of geekdom: the iPhone.

It did not take me long to discover the amazing functionality of this incredible piece of equipment. When they say, “There’s an app for that,” they aren’t kidding! There are apps for virtually everyone, covering almost every interest! The legal community is definitely no exception.

So, being the blogging librarian that I am, I have decided to share with you 10 of the coolest apps applicable to the lawyer and law student. Some of these might also be available on Blackberry or other devices, whatever they may be.

  1. QuickOffice. This app actually allows you to edit Word and Spreadsheet documents. Honestly, I mostly use this app as an easy way to transfer documents to and from my iPhone, and to view them on the iPhone.
  2. Any of the Cliff Maier reference apps. These apps are designed for legal reference and include the following:
    • Constitution
    • Federal Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil and Criminal Procedure
    • Federal Rules of Evidence
    • Intellectual Property Laws
    • State Evidence Rules for various states (not Kansas).

    Price ranges from $0.99 to $7.99. Each app offers the ability to jump to a section or to search. There is cut-and-paste (for iPhone 3GS), as well as linking. The cool thing is when you are done looking at your link, you can go back to the app and it will still be where you left off.

  3. Black’s Law Dictionary is now available for the iPhone. This is Thomson Reuters’ first venture into app-dom, and I hope it’s not their last. You find terms in the app by typing into a search bar. Results appear as you begin to type, so you don’t even need to finish typing to find what you need. There is an audio button which, when tapped, will pronounce the word for you. Slick! It runs $50, which is a little pricey for an app. It does work really well, though. And it IS cheaper than the hard copy.
  4. Law in a Flash – iPhone Law School Flashcards. You know the product, right? Little flash cards with humorous scenarios on Criminal Procedure, Torts, Corporations, Criminal Law, Federal Income Tax, Professional Responsibility and Wills & Trusts. This is a great resource for law students on the go needing to study as much as they can for exams and/or the bar exam. The application allows users to take notes within the program, bookmark cards and put cards into shuffle mode for quick study. The cards are modeled after the multi-state bar exam. Each subject is $39.99.
  5. Law Pod Foundation provides some legal reference apps not unlike Cliff Maier. There’s not as much there, but at 99 cents per app, it’s well worth a look. Includes Federal Rules of Civil, Criminal, Appellate and Bankruptcy Procedure as well as the Constitution. Each one is searchable. There is also an app called Title 35 that gives you similar access to the patent-relevant parts of the United States Code for $2.99.
  6. The Legal News Reader app, which costs 99 cents, conveniently aggregates all recent legal news in one place, for those not interested in the time it takes to search for it on their own.
  7. DocScanner, available for $8.99, is another great app for lawyers. With this app you can scan a document to your iPhone by taking a photo of it. It is then converted to a .pdf file that can either be e-mailed or saved to your phone.
  8. Amazon Kindle is a great, free app for long, unexpected delays in court. You can download books, some for free, directly to your iPhone and peruse them in an easy-to-read format at your leisure.
  9. Law School 100 is an iPhone app that ranks 100 law schools in the United States and provides capsule profiles of each school. It’s produced by LawTV Inc., the publisher of The Law School 100.
  10. TimeWerks. Sure, you thought that the iPhone meant you were a free-wheeling, outside-the-box kind of lawyer. But nobody escapes death, taxes and, if you’re a law firm attorney, billable hours. While no programs that I’m aware of can seamlessly sync with firm billing apps, it’s a step up from filling out paper billable sheets while you’re out of the office. TimeWerks, $9.99, will track your projects and time spent in a way that, while not strictly built for lawyers, is user-friendly and versatile, and lets you export a .csv file that may streamline getting the data to your main billing program. A lite version does exist for free if you just want to try things out.
As you can imagine, there are tons more out there. Do you know of any? I would love to check them out! Just shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment.

Employment hope, despite cooling in on-campus recruiting

The New York Times ran an article on Tuesday titled “Downturn Dims Prospects Even at Top Law Schools.” It was reported that at many top tier law schools, on-campus interviews are down by a third to a half compared with a year ago. Far fewer law firms are interviewing on campus, and those that remain are offering a reduced number of positions. Two second-year students, both with over $200K in debt, lament in the article that, absent an offer from a big law firm, they don’t know how they’ll manage.

KU Law has experienced a similar cooling in on-campus recruiting, as the number of our fall on-campus employers has fallen by over one-third from a total of 72 in the fall of 2008. Several employers that consistently recruit on campus will forego all on-campus interviewing in 2009-10. Others registered for fall interviews but later withdrew, citing economic uncertainty. There remains a small group of undecided employers. I anticipate that at least 10-12 will ultimately choose to participate in our fall program, so at best we’ll top out at approximately 50 fall on-campus employers.

The employers who do participate will be offering fewer summer clerkship opportunities than in past years, and the acceptance rate of their offers will be high.

Students who do not receive offers from on-campus employers should not despair. KU Law has always offered a top-notch, affordable legal education, and most students accrue far less debt than their peers at NYU and Penn who are quoted in the Times. In uncertain economic times, graduating from law school with a manageable debt load is of heightened importance. When jobs are less abundant, it pays to have the financial flexibility to accept a summer or full-time position that offers a good opportunity to gain marketable experience, if not a fat paycheck.

To weather this economic storm, students will be encouraged to gain experience through our excellent law school clinics, with small and mid-sized law firms and government agencies, at corporations where their legal skills may be viewed as a plus, and with judges.

It is also important to note two facts:

(1) Since 2000, the percentage of KU Law grads who attribute their full-time job to a fall on-campus interview has averaged just under 20 percent.
(2) Law firms in the 2-25 attorney range have accounted for over 50 percent of law firm hiring of KU Law grads in six of the last nine years.

Fall on-campus interviewing is not the only way to find a legal job after graduation. It represents a piece of the overall puzzle. And large law firms, even in a robust economy, do not represent the entirety of a student’s employment options.

Todd Rogers
Assistant Dean for Career Services

Looking back: A 1L perspective on career planning

The newest batch of KU Law Student Ambassadors will be in place by mid-September and will begin contributing to the blog each Wednesday. Until then, we’re dipping into the archives of blog entries from Ambassadors in past years. These have never been published because we didn’t get our blog off the ground until July. This first installment comes from Chris Kaufman, who begins his third year of law school this fall. He composed the post on Jan. 31, 2008.

After completing the first two weeks of the second semester, I think I have finally readjusted to the demanding 1L schedule. I welcomed the month long break between semesters, using my time to relax, spend time with family and travel to watch the Jayhawks win the Orange Bowl. 

Lost in those weeks away from KU Law, however, were the focus, discipline and endurance that I have recently become reacquainted with. But with the start of a new semester also comes additional responsibility — because following the spring semester come summer employment opportunities. Therefore, the KU Law Office of Career Services kicks its program into high gear this time of year.

The first week back from break consisted of the usual reading assignments and class sessions, but also included mock interviews. Recent KU Law alums return to campus to walk through a simulated interview process to help students become familiar with the legal interview process. I came prepared, wearing my black suit, carrying resumes and transcripts, and reciting facts in my head about the firm that I was “applying” to work for over the summer.

I found the experience to be worthwhile. While the typical nervous stress that will likely accompany me to the real interviews was absent, the program provided me an opportunity to polish my answers and critique my body language, posture and other needless mannerisms.

With my first set of on-campus interviews with Kansas City-area law firms approaching, I have spent recent nights combing their Web sites, researching their specialties, and predicting the questions they will pose. While the experience is full of uncertainty and a little bit of stress, it will undoubtedly provide the valuable opportunity to practice my communication, research and persuasion skills in an un-simulated environment. I just hope I don’t get too much interview practice.

Chris Kaufman, 3L

Wheat Law librarians ‘are like lawyers squared’

I suppose the Wheat Law Library’s first blog should be a bit of a “how do you do.” You know…get to know the library and the librarians. But all of that information can be found on our Web page http://www.law.ku.edu/library/. Instead, I would like to share with you what a law librarian is and what we do.

Just looking at the phrase “law librarian,” you can see that there are two aspects: the law and the librarian. Let’s look at each of these individually and then see what it means when combined.

First, allow me to explain to you what a librarian is. There’s a good chance that you have a picture in your head of a mild-mannered individual who will begrudgingly help you locate a book but only after giving you the almighty “SHOOSH!” Although a librarian will help you find a book, and perhaps even recommend you keep it down, it’s not really all we do.

Librarians are information specialists.  This means we process, catalog, retrieve and use information in every form. Sure we do books. But we are also versed in research, cataloging, electronic media, digital editing — anything dealing with information, it’s processing and manipulation, we do it. Of course not each and every one of us does it all.  But collectively, we get it done.

So what about the “law” part of “law librarian”? This is not simply a reference to the type of library we work in, but a reference to our educational background. Many of us have our J.D.s, and some of us have even practiced law. So not only do we work in a law library, but we also understand the law both in theory and in practice. Combined with our abilities in information management, we are quite the force.

There is no request beneath us. Why just the other day, one of our students conversationally mentioned that she had heard about some store that sells reclaimed building supplies in Lawrence. Before she could even log on to her computer, I located and printed a map giving directions to HFH ReStore off of Seventh and Connecticut.

The ability to access, process and use information is what being a librarian is about. The ability to access, process and use the law is what being a lawyer is all about. So really, we are like lawyers squared!

Blake Wilson
Instructional & Research Services Librarian

Think you might be interested in law librarianship?  Or maybe you just want a little extra scratch?  The Wheat Law Library is seeking to hire a Research Assistant to assist with legal and interdisciplinary research in support of faculty scholarship.  You have to have passed Lawyering I & II.  Additional experience with legal research and technology is a definite plus.

For more information, contact Chris Steadham, Office 200E, csteadham@ku.edu.

Welcoming the new school year with an infusion of diverse backgrounds, experiences

Green Hall is almost in full swing again for fall.

The new 1Ls are on Day 3 of the Entering Student Program. Today it’s ethics and professionalism, an introduction to the Kansas Bar, lunch with small sections and a Lawyering session on case briefing, class preparation and studying.

Their classmates who started back in May joined them this week. Second- and third-year students begin classes on Thursday, but some of them are already here. The entire staff of the Kansas Law Review is meeting down the hall from my office this morning to get organized for the year. From the sounds of things, it’s an enthusiastic bunch.

The KU Law Convocation on Wednesday will officially mark the start of the new academic year.

It begins with an infusion of new blood. We welcome 163 new students to the three-year J.D. program. The Class of 2012 is joined by 10 students enrolled in the Two-Year J.D. Program for Foreign-Trained Lawyers and six students pursuing an S.J.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science).

These students come from 77 colleges and universities in 22 states and the countries of Ecuador, Cameroon, China, Eritrea, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines and South Korea. Thirty-nine percent of them are women, and 17 percent identify themselves as ethnic minorities.

They range in age from 21 to 53 and speak 11 languages, including Arabic, Ukrainian and Chinese.

They are champion debaters, bagpipe players, print and broadcast journalists, National Merit Scholars, certified SCUBA divers, dancers, athletes, coaches, volunteers and combat veterans. One rides a unicycle and holds the Guinness World Record for longest individual drum roll. Another is an Army captain with two Bronze Stars and a Combat Action Badge for service in Iraq.

Needless to say, the incoming class adds a wide range of backgrounds and experiences to the Green Hall mix. We couldn’t be more excited about the rich environment.

On that note, I’ll leave you with a video on Rice Distinguished Professor Raj Bhala, who is featured in the latest installment of KU’s Professor Profile series. He discusses, among other things, the value of international perspectives in the classroom: http://bit.ly/sLf2e

Mindie Paget

Of ruins and rugs: a weekend excursion


Second-year law student Ellen O’Leary
stops for a photo in the Temple
of Pergamon.

More photos on Flickr.
The second installment of the Istanbul study abroad blog by 2L Ellen O’Leary, who just finished finals in Turkey.

So much to see do! The last two weeks have been a blur of color and sound packed with school work and site seeing. Here is a taste of what we’ve been doing:

Last Friday the class piled onto a bus – rather than going to class – to leave for a weekend of excursion down the west coast of mainland Turkey. We went through Gallipoli, crossing the Dardanelles straight on a large ferry, on the way to Troy. That’s right: Troy – as in Achilles and Hector and the Trojan horse (with the KU boys inside). Amazing!!! We spent an hour or so walking through the ruins in the heat of the afternoon. Everyone was pretty wiped out, but I could have spent the rest of the day! We spent that night at a resort on the beach in Assos. Swimming in the Aegean Sea was salty and a bit cold at sunset, but it was an excellent end to a hot day.

We all got up early the next morning to visit the ruins of the Temple of Athena in Assos. There wasn’t a whole lot left, just some columns and a foundation, but the view from the hill was spectacular. Pergamon came next, home to the Temple of Trajan, altar of Zeus and Asclepion (ancient equivalent of a hospital and health spa). I got to climb all over the temple and wander through the grounds. The gravity in these places is nearly overwhelming. I cannot help but be in awe of the things the ancient civilizations accomplished. We returned to modern life that night in Izmir. The harbor is lined with restaurants, shops and a park that stretches the entire length. I taught a few people how to play backgammon (I learned the first week here) while we had tea at one of the seaside cafes.

The last day was jam-packed, starting with a tour of Ephesus, lunch and a tour of a carpet factory, a detour to the Temple of Artemis and, finally, a visit to a ceramic factory before flying back to Istanbul. Ephesus is known for the Celsus Library and its theater, but it’s so much more than that. It is the best-preserved ancient Greek/Roman site in Turkey and second only to Pompeii in the Mediterranean. Again, I don’t think we spent enough time there (which I know others would disagree with); the ruins are so extensive. In addition to the more obvious public architecture, archeologists are in the process of excavating private houses that still have bright mosaics, frescoes and tile intact. Absolutely incredible!

The carpet factory was intense. They grow and harvest their own silk for the handmade rugs. There were half a dozen looms in the production room we were shown. Each rug is made by a single woman who spends months knotting the thread in intricate patterns she nearly knows by heart. After seeing the production, we were treated to a real carpet salesman show. They served tea and raki (Turkish absinthe) during the sales pitch. Rugs of every color and material were rolled out on top of one another. They invited us to take our shoes off and walk on the rugs to discern the difference between wool, cotton and silk. I was approached by a rather hopeful salesman while I was sitting on a pile of silk rugs at the end of the presentation. I told him I was enjoying the fine rugs now because there was no way any of them were going home with me and shifted his attention to Adam, who listened to the sales pitch for quite a while. Professor Exum and her husband, however, are coming back to Lawrence with two beautiful Turkish rugs.

Soaking up Turkish culture in Istanbul


University Cafe on the Bosphorus
MORE PHOTOS ON FLICKR

Eight KU Law students and Professor Jelani Jefferson Exum are spending July in Istanbul as part of the school’s study abroad program at the University of Bahcesehir. Second-year student Ellen O’Leary submitted this blog entry and photos.

Today marks one week of our stay here in Istanbul — one whole week since I flew in and had no idea what to expect. Even though I still have no idea what to expect from each day, I have definitely gained some perspective on this city in the past few days.

Last Saturday, all of the students who had arrived went on an expedition to find the university and had dinner nearby. Bahcesehir University is a wonderful facility with a spectacular view! The school has an outdoor cafe that looks out onto the Bosphorus toward the Asian side of the city. You can also see the old town (on the European side) where all the well-known sightseeing spots are located.

Classes are going well. Very interesting material. We have a handful of Turkish students that speak in class and lend a different perspective to our discussions. They have acted as guides of Turkish culture both in and out of the classroom. Fezya and Rahime took a few of us out to lunch earlier this week where we really got to talk about our different cultures.

I spent the entire day in the old town visiting as much as I could. Ayasofia (Hagia Sophia) is large and unfortunately under lots of reconstruction. They are busy uncovering the old Christian mosaics from the Islamic plaster. There is a nice garden in between Ayasofia and the Blue Mosque (free admittance!) which really is a large, ornate open space to pray. It is an unfamiliar layout for me, nothing like the churches I am more used to. No pews, no alter, no iconography whatsoever. Instead, the roof and walls are covered with ornate tiles and painted patterns. Topkopi Palace compound abuts Ayasofia on the other side. The gardens are vast and beautiful. It is overflowing with trees and flowers and families. It was too late in the day to justify a 20TL ticket into the museum (I spend quality time in museums) so that is on the list of things to do tomorrow, along with the Islamic Technology and Science Museum and the interior of Topkopi Palace itself.