On the first day of ILTA’s 2014 convention on Monday, I attended a rather fascinating session. The title was “To App or Not To App?” and it was focused around if it makes sense for a law firm to produce their own apps. The following questions were posed: Do law firm apps really do the useful things they are intended? Do clients use them? Is now the time to get your firm on board with creating an app, and are they worth the investment? We entered into a discussion with three firms and how they got from the drawing board to release and lessons they learned along the way.


The panel addressed these questions by talking about three different apps they had each built. 


1) Mark McCreary of Fox Rothschild LLP led the discussion on an app that they built at the firm called Data Breach 411. It is an app that “privacy and data practice attorneys created to inform businesses of these state laws so they can better understand their rights, obligations and potential liability.” 

2) Marika DePron of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP discussed The ShalePlay app, which is a comprehensive resource on news and information related to shale gas and hydraulic fracturing, including the latest industry trends and updates.

3) Elyse Lazaruk of Latham & Watkins LLP discussed The Book of Jargon which is a firm-written book that they turned into an app. It covers corporate and bank finance slang and terminology.


The major thrust of this session was these three apps were extremely beneficial to the firms. They cited several reasons for the success. The number one reason to build an app was the exposure reaped from its creation. The app simply demonstrated significant expertise by the firm in a specialty area. They were able to leverage this with potential clients. In addition, the firms saw a great deal of press from the likes of The Wall Street Journal, Legal Week and The American Lawyer.


Some of the major challenges that the firm’s faced with building the apps were limited resources, having teams of attorneys collaborate with developers, and watching costs. 


When asked by an attendee if the firm would consider building more apps, the panel universally said “Absolutely!” Based on this session and while we are in a more competitive legal landscape, it would seem to behoove firms which wish to distinguish themselves to delve into the possibility of creating their own app within their area of expertise.

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