- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 13 September 2012 05:02, Updated 13 September 2012 10:04
For the 280 in-court police prosecutors in New South Wales, a new iPad app is the difference between carrying 7 kilograms of books to court each day, and carrying 700 grams. It is also the difference between having legal references updated every 72 hours or every two years, and represents an annual saving of $100,000 for the police.
“It’s a significant saving for a government legal department,” Inspector Brendan Searson says. “It gives the prosecutors immediate access to critical resources that are up to date and is an efficient and sustainable solution.”
These are some of the reasons the NSW Police Force rolled out iPads equipped with LexisNexis Red, the world’s first mobile digital reference tool – designed specifically for lawyers – to its entire legal department last month.
The app essentially replaces hard copy, looseleaf reference works that have long served as lawyers’ bibles and takes away the costly administrative component of manually updating publications to reflect legislative changes and precedents.
Some of LexisNexis’s looseleaf titles are available for purchase through the app and extra content will be released later in the year. The technology is only available for iPads but a version for other tablet devices is being developed.
NSW Police worked in partnership with LexisNexis in developing LexisNexis Red to ensure its suitability for prosecutors. Searson says the response from the practitioners has been unanimous.
“They are really embracing it,” he says. “We used our longest serving prosecutor in the pilot phase, which was a strategic decision, and he absolutely loves it.”
The app was designed to resemble the hard-copy books to ensure practitioners could navigate it with ease and familiarity, but has additional functionality so lawyers can highlight relevant pages, make notes and hyperlinks, jump between sections and use a sophisticated search engine within the app. Searson says another big bonus is that the app can be used offline.
“It’s fantastic that the solution isn’t compromised for lawyers in rural and regional areas without optimal internet coverage,” he says. “Once it’s installed on the device, it’s instantly functional for users and doesn’t depend on being connected to the internet.”
Clayton Utz special counsel in litigation Orla McCoy says the app is highly functional and simple to use.
“I could fairly be described as a technophobe and I find I can use it easily,” she says.
In a courtroom, when clarification of a point of law is required, time is of the essence. “It is hard to imagine a more high-pressure scenario than when you’re on the spot in court and need to quickly clarify a point,” McCoy says.
“This [app] gives you the ability and confidence to do that easily.”
McCoy says it also removes a practical obstacle faced by all litigators.
“During a hearing or trial, the logistics of carting material to and from the office to court each day is always a challenge, so I look forward to just being able to bring an iPad or tablet device,” she says.
LexisNexis has developed the app to capitalise on its research which shows that nearly half of Australian legal professionals are already using mobile devices for legal research.
“New mobile technologies, tablet devices and increased connectivity are significantly altering the day-to day work flows of legal professionals,” LexisNexis Pacific executive director of strategy, content and business development Tyson Wienker says. “These technologies are reshaping the legal landscape by providing a range of new opportunities for improved collaboration tools, productivity applications, legal research and referencing.”