Web Apps for Back to School

Who likes to lug around those big, heavy law textbooks?

Not me, that’s for sure.

Frederic Lardinois of ReadWriteWeb provides some web applications and plug-in extensions to help reduce the number of books and resources you need to carry.

Citations from Hell

Several of them, such as bibliography tools like Zotero and EasyBib, don’t have as much relevance for law students.  The McGill Guide (aka The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation) simply isn’t as popular a format as MLA or APA for developers to include it.

Imagine the automation possible if tools like OttoBib, which gives you a book citation using an ISBN number alone, could do the same for legal cases.  The savings in billable hours would also be passed on to the client.

Law Students, Collaborating?

If you’re really fancy about your summaries you can use Evernet, which lets you upload photos of the blackboard right into your notes. 

Google Notebookis similar to Microsoft Word, but allows natural online collaboration.  There are plenty of times we miss something the Prof said, but this way you can have several students taking notes on the same lecture.

But law students are not famous for their collaboration.  In the rare chance that they do, such as with moots, other online office suites from Google and Zoho might be useful.

Organizational Skills

I’m the guy who does everything – every public speaker, every event, and I want to eventually do every competition.  At the tuition rate I’m paying I want the most of my law school experience, and don’t want to be holed up trying to cram as much as I can.

I already use Google Calendar to keep track of things, but Remember the Milk is an additional tool that can be used in conjunction with it to prioritze tasks.  You can synchronize Remember the Milk with your GmailiPhone, Blackberry, Twitter, and more.

Ratings Professors

Most law students know Rate My Professor from their undergrad studies (law in Canada is usually after one degree, or at least several years of study).  There’s also Professor Performance, which is increasing in popularity.  I’ve checked, and many of our law professors are evaluted on these sites.

Be fair, but kind and generous when conducting these evaluations.  Keep in mind that one day someone will likely be evaluating you on one of the many lawyer evaluation sites like Lawyer Ratingz and CanLaw that are popping up.

Daydream Efficiently

Looking to daydream in class, or procrastinate on those readings?

Minimize your wasted time with Meebo, which allows you to integrate several Instant Messaging accounts simultaneously.

My Recommendation

ReadWriteWeb provides a whole slew of other web apps that students can use.

My biggest distraction in class is looking up legal definitions.  Because Black’s Law Dictionary is too bulky to bring to every class, I tend to use a combination of free online legal dictionaries and other sources.

My new favorite toy is Ubiquity, a beta Firefox extension that allows quick, in-browser command prompts including quick definitions and Wikipedia entries.  It also allows you to quickly Digg pages, take screenshots, map locations, and translate text.

Of course all these features are available on other sites and applications, but it’s the speed and efficiency that Ubuiquity allows that makes it useful.

There are also custom command prompts available, and many further developments that can be expected from this application as it expands.

Keep Your Fingers Crossed

Armed with all your online toys you’ll be more organized and efficient than ever before for the new school year.  Learning productivity software now, while you are in school, will make you that much more of an efficient lawyer once you start practicing.

Now let’s just hope your computer doesn’t crash.

Cross-Posted from Social Media Mafia.

2 Comments on "Web Apps for Back to School"

  1. For those who use the [Harvard] Bluebook [in the U.S.] for legal citations, there is a new program called Citrus that will get your citations into the proper format.

  2. Ted Tjaden noted on Slaw earlier this year that the Bluebook is available online, and that Canadian companies should do the same.

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