Mobile Apps

mobile apps
07 Jun 2023

Everything is at your fingertips…

In this day and age, the vast majority of people either use one or know of a so-called mobile app. From WhatsApp to mobile banking apps, there’s an app for absolutely everything.

Whether you need to –

  • order dinner because loadshedding has kicked in – there’s the Uber Eats or Mr. D apps;
  • do grocery shopping but are stuck in a Webinar – most of the major grocery stores have a mobile shopping app with same day guaranteed delivery (bonus!);
  • go somewhere but don’t know how to get there – Waze’s mobile app can guide you there;
  • pay an outstanding bill but aren’t at home – most major banks have mobile apps so paying from anywhere is super easy; or
  • work on a document that needs an urgent response – Microsoft Office has an app to help you.

Everything a person could possibly need to stay in touch, to stay entertained, to pay and get paid, to stay in the “know”, to stay clothed and to stay fed. Mobile apps seemingly are a vital part of our day-to-day life. Inherent in the very makeup of our tech savvy society.

And they are ready and waiting to “do as you command” (within reason of course).

But what exactly is a mobile app?

You would think it was self-explanatory. To most people a mobile app refers to the little icons on their mobile phone (or tablet) that they can tap and either get directions, pay someone, order something, rate something or read something.

According to Tech Target the technical definition of a mobile app is –

a software application developed specifically for use on small, wireless computing devices, such as smartphones and tablets, rather than desktop or laptop computers. Mobile apps are sometimes categorised according to whether they are web-based or native apps, which are created specifically for a given platform. A third category, hybrid apps, combines elements of both native and web apps”.

Mobile apps are little icons that you tap to access an application that then talks to your iPhone or Android’s operating system. The operating system then links that specific app to a particular piece of hardware or software on your iPhone or Android phone to initiate the app – like Waze via your GPS.

Making life just that little bit easier….

But the other crucial bit of information here is not how the apps work – not really – because for most of us the actual mechanics are irrelevant. The big take away here is that mobile apps are an essential part of mobile communication and the mobile business revolution. We are an e-commerce society.

Mobile apps are the tools used by many of us when we work from home, or at the mall, in our car or at a meeting (anywhere really), to get things done when on the move.

There are a lot of mobile apps out there (and a lot of users too)

The article titled 6 Benefits of Having a Mobile App for Your Business sets out the following –

Mobile app statistics for 2023 state that there are 1.96 million applications available on the Apple Store and 2.87 million on the Google Play Store. From schools to multinational companies, everyone is leaning towards building their own mobile application in order to be more connected globally and make it easier for people to reach anything they want through a quick tap on their smartphone’s screen. In this article, we’ll go over the advantages of mobile applications for your business”.

That’s a lot of applications.

And with “over 6.3 billion smartphone users across the world, it’s no surprise that the mobile app industry is thriving. App usage and smartphone penetration are still growing at a steady rate, without any signs of slowing down in the foreseeable future” (Buildfire).

In fact, Buildfire set out that on average Americans check their phones 262 times per day (or once every 5.5 minutes) and most of that time (or at least 88% of that time) is spent on mobile apps.

Knowing that, it leaves little wonder why businesses of all sizes are looking to get their slice of the mobile app pie – because the benefits are too valuable to ignore.

The one vital piece of information that we want to emphasise is this – sure there are a lot of mobile apps out there with an even larger user base, but which ones do you really need?

You see, it’s all well and good having a mobile app that can order food or a mobile app that you can use to make a payment with. But knowing which ones will add real measurable value to your day-to-day life is key.

It’s therefore best – in our opinion at least – to truly understand which app will add that value to your life. Instead of downloading every mobile app that promises you the world, be a little frugal. Learn before you download and ensure that you only incorporate mobile apps of the highest quality into your daily routine.

Don’t set yourself up to fail because you put your faith in the wrong mobile app. A fad is a fad. It will fade in time. Bank on the mobile apps with a proven track record.

As with everything in life – quality over quantity should be your guiding measure.

Why should legal practitioners use mobile apps?

The legal profession is one which speaks to the exact ideology that “time is money”. That’s a given. Whether we are referring to billable hours or the amount of time spent at the office (which is often the same thing), lawyers make money from the time they spend on something. So, if there’s a way to save time (or better manage time), allowing lawyers to do much more in their workday, resulting in the writing of 10 times more fees, then whatever that app is, it’s going to be an immediate hit.

One example is the Microsoft Office App. Should a document need to be amended and you are on the go, you can open the document using the Mobile Office App, amend whatever needs amending and then send it back (via email or WhatsApp) to the necessary person. This ensures you not only save time because you can work on the go, meaning you remain productive wherever you are, but it also ensures that a lawyer remains on top of drafting – regardless of location.

Lawyers can also charge for the time they spend doing this – even when they are out of the office. Earning whilst on the move. Yes please!

But are there other advantages for lawyers utilising a mobile app in their day-today operations?

Digital access on the go – gone are the days of lugging around tons of legislation (whether it be in textbooks, journals or otherwise) or struggling to find a piece of case law that you desperately need by accessing a website – where’s the search function?! Whether this info is needed in court proceedings or during consultations with clients or opposing parties, easy access to vast amounts of info is crucial. By using apps such as –

  1. Saflii – for all the latest judgments from the African Continent;
  2. SA Labour Guide – for all labour law in South Africa;
  3. Case Law Journal – for the latest reportable judgments of the Supreme Court and the High Courts of the state along with headnotes; and lastly
  4. Lexis Mobile – is a practical and convenient way to gain access to loose-leaf content on the go. The app allows for users to carry and reference loose-leaf content both on and offline.

Saflii and Lexis Mobile are available on iPhone and Android whilst the other two are on Android only.

Lawyers will have access to valuable case law and different legal insights when they need it the most, thereby saving time and frustration – without the need to endlessly search for a needle in a haystack. Lawyers can also remain updated with each and every change in regulation or release of new case law, even when they’re not at their desks. And that’s a massive benefit for the lawyer on the go.

Manage tasks from anywhere – when you’re on the move, it can be hard to keep track of your own progress in matters, let alone those of your team members. By having a team’s task management app, you can manage tasks as well as the time spent on tasks for yourself as well as your team members. You can also collaborate with a team member whilst on the go. Task management apps like Confluence or Slack (both of which invite company-wide collaboration) are able to provide quick insights of all tasks you and your team have to do on any particular day. This gives senior attorneys an opportunity to use their resources (for example their junior attorneys) in a more effective way, resulting in better outcomes for everyone involved – clients included. And this can be done from anywhere. What’s more, talking about tracking progress, lawyers can record their activity as and when it happens. They don’t have to wait until they are “back in the office” to do so. Ensuring that there is no wasted time. Just productive time. And proper tracking of progress.

Obtaining important client data on the go – apps can assist legal practitioners (and their staff) by minimising data entry. You will only need to collect data once, which is usually at the very beginning of the working relationship. And this can be done – with the right mobile app – on the go. Data can then be uploaded and saved accordingly without the need to re-input client info at a later date. This will also ensure you remain up to date with your KYC compliance obligations, no matter where you are – ensuring compliance whilst on the go. That’s a tick right there!

Having just some of these mobile apps in your arsenal will –

  • Reduce stress (which is key for the legal industry in 2023. Have a read of this article to understand why it should be top priority for lawyers) – lawyers will be able to work literally from any location because they don’t need access to their laptops to attend to work. Their mobile phones can help them stay on top of things whilst on the go.
  • Enhance the remote work movement – working from their mobile phones ensures that lawyers never let anything fall through the cracks, because work can be attended to quickly and easily on their mobile phones. Lawyers truly remain on top of their workload from wherever they may be and that’s a tick in the remote working column.
  • Reduce risk – as mobile apps allow lawyers to work from their mobile phones (or tablets), there is no need to carry around valuable laptops. If a mobile phone is lost or stolen it doesn’t automatically mean access to firm wide confidential information. But losing or having a laptop stolen could result in a hefty price tag to replace the lost/stolen laptop whilst at the same time resulting in the loss of valuable (and confidential) information which is a complete no-no in any business but especially so in a law firm.

And that’s quite a few positives from where we’re sitting.

The importance of mobile apps cannot be underestimated. Not only does it help the user save time, enabling them to be more productive, but it also reduces stress, reduces risk, and enables an easy work from anywhere option. This is especially true for professionals, like lawyers, who can remain productive and on top of things even if they don’t have access to their laptops.

Mobile apps come to the rescue!

Now if only there was a full stack legal accounting and practice management app that could enable a lawyer – truly on the go – to work wherever they are (even without a laptop) to upload info, load fees, and update a matter. All in real time.

Hmmm…… now that sounds enticing!

To find out further information on some useful apps for lawyers, read Top 8 Apps for Lawyers and Legal Firms.

(Sources used and to whom we give thanks: Bark, West Agile Apps, Entrepreneur, Objective and Buildfire.)

If you have any questions regarding the information we have set out above please do not hesitate to get in touch with us – we would be happy to discuss mobile apps in greater detail with you. It’s a topic we are truly excited about…

In fact, if you have any queries relating to legal tech and how you can incorporate it into your practice, get-in-touch and let’s see how we can take your software solution from good to phenomenal. If you don’t yet have any software supporting your legal practice, it’s not a problem. We are here to help you from scratch too.

AJS – as always – has your back!

See also:

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
Alicia Koch

Alicia Koch is an admitted attorney with over 10 years PQE. She has worked in law firms, has had her own legal consulting company and has been an in-house legal... Read more about Alicia Koch


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