What’s the first thing you notice when you walk into a lawyer’s office? Books! There are always bookshelves full of thick volumes as far as the eye can see. In the 21st century, there just has to be a better way to keep track of laws and legal documents. Wouldn’t it be great if you could fit all these pages onto a hand-held device? DroidLaw promises to turn this vision into reality.
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Features & Use
DroidLaw is basically a personal legal assistant designed for your Android device. The app is intended first and foremost for legal professionals and law school students. Whether as a study-aid or a casual reference source, DroidLaw is a useful tool for anyone involved with law in one way or another.
By default DroidLaw includes US Federal Rules, which are divided into the following legal areas:
Each individual area of law is subdivided into sections marked with roman numerals that are then further divided into smaller numbered subsections. It’s a very neat and well-organized system that reduces clutter and makes browsing simple and efficient.
Once you’ve selected a particular area of law, you can filter down what you’re looking for by entering in terms into a text box at the top of the screen.
Unfortunately, this only filters words listed on the specific screen that you are viewing. There’s no option for searching through all sections and subsections for a specific keyword. This is definitely a major drawback given the huge amount of legal information out there.
There are three buttons located at the bottom of the screen:
- RSS (View relevant RSS feeds)
- Addons (Download additional legal codes and regulations)
- Workspace (A clipboard where bookmarked sections and RSS feeds for future reference)
By pressing Addons, you can download more legal material at a cost. At the given moment there isn’t very wide selection of legal materials. Currently, none of the US state codes are available (except Ohio), which is problematic for people working in the States. According to the developer’s website, however, more reference material is on its way.
Pressing the menu button in the Workspace section let’s you add an RSS feed by providing the RSS channel title and URL.
To access your settings, press the menu button when at the main menu. There you can see how much data is being stored offline and wipe all offline data if necessary. You can also adjust your data caching or clear your cache at any point.
This app may not have any dazzling features, but it works well-enough as a reference source. As a tool, this app is most useful for people dealing with legal matters on a regular basis. It would be nice to see more material included in the app beyond just Federal Rules. As I already mentioned, the lack of a comprehensive search feature is a real disappointment. Unlike flipping through heavy reference books at the library, a legal reference app for Android should make searching for legal terms quick and easy.
Screen & Controls
The design is very simple and pragmatic. Everything is clearly displayed on the main screen as soon as the app is launched. Most features can be accessed using the touch screen, which is very efficient. In general, the app is extremely well organized and is intuitive to use. Once you’ve found the legal rule you needed, pressing the menu buttons presents you with several options:
Bookmark (Saves it to the Workplace)
Share (via Email, Facebook, SMS or Twitter)
The app has very minimal controls that can be easily understood by anyone. Everything works really well!
Speed & Stability
The app launches instantly when opened. Everything runs quickly and smoothly. No crashes or lags experienced during the test.
DroidLaw can be downloaded for free from the Android Market. Add-ons can be downloaded at an additional cost. Since not that much material is included with the app, this can get a bit expensive (prices range from $3.99 to $2.99).