It's official. The iPhone has come into its own in the legal world. It took a little time, and lawyers are notorious Luddites (you can pry the WordPerfect out of their cold, dead hands) but they do like Bright Shiny Objects, and nothing fills the lapel pocket like an iPhone.
The iPhone finally cracked the law-firm standards stranglehold by virtue of its compatibility with Microsoft Exchange, which freed lawyers from the non-choice of "would you like a Blackberry, or a Blackberry?" Granted, the Blackberry still seems to have a better handle on business needs, but for some, the iPhone is worth getting to know.
It should go without saying -- I will say it, though -- many of the productivity apps that are useful to everybody are useful to lawyers, so two of these apps are not strictly law-related. (See if you can spot them! It's a brain teaser and a post!) Also, certain obvious apps don't exist yet, such as a standalone LexisNexis or WestLaw legal research app. That said, the web will suffice for now. In fact, though I've artificially constrained myself to only standalone applications, the iPhone really shines for accessing web research sites given that Mobile Safari is (mostly) a full-featured browser.
So, without further ado, here are five apps that give a glimpse into what the iPhone can do for attorneys.
1) DataViz's DocumentsToGo. Nobody expects to write a brief or a memorandum from start to finish on an iPhone (though I am waiting for a good enough voice-recognition app so that getting a draft started is feasible), but any legal writing usually goes through more revisions than your average pre-1.0 beta software. Often this happens right as you were planning on leaving for the day.
DocumentsToGo allows you to edit and change documents, as well as email them over Exchange (requires $9.99US Exchange version) to other team members. Of course, iPhone OS 3.0's cut/copy/paste was a prerequisite to making any word processing application workable, but now document editing has become at least moderately feasible. Nothing replaces your desk, covered in open books or a large monitor with LexisNexis or WestLaw opened to 18 different searches, but this gives you just a bit more flexibility and just may save you a panicky trip back to the office at 11:30pm on Saturday night.