University of Wisconsin–Madison

New Technology for law school, law firms, and fun

As the weather cools down and Finals heat up, it can be tough to think about anything else except trying to make it to the end of the semester. However, technology may help you get over these final few hurdles, and provide you with some relaxation after you have finished your papers and finals.

In the spirit of both finding useful tools and distractions, below is a list of ten apps or tools that may come in handy in the month of December.

1. Zotero - A free citation management tool, Zotero can be a huge time-saver. Collect all your citations in one online place (accessible from any computer), organize and annotate them and finally add them to your paper. Even better, Zotero has the ability to convert your sources into Bluebook citations. While they are not perfect and still need a person to review them, you'll save a lot of time with this handy and free tool. Librarians can help you install it and learn how to use it.

2. Perma.CC - Another helpful tool for when you are writing, Perma.CC saves online articles, permanently archiving them so that sentence you are citing cannot be deleted, and the page itself will always be there for you. A free tool, Perma accounts can be created either on your own, or through the Library.

3. Bloomberg Law Docket Search - A vastly underutilized resource, Bloomberg Law's Docket Search connects you directly with PACER, without any extra cost. Locate thousands of court documents that have been electronically filed. Anything item that is in PACER is also here, but with the built-in functionality of a powerful legal research database. Librarians can help you locate material and explain how to find dockets quickly and easily.

4. Law Library DVD Collection - Yes, I am still counting DVDs as 'technology'! The Law Library has an extensive collection of both entertaining and instructional DVDs that can be checked out for three days at a time. Ranging from Legally Blonde to Lincoln, you can easily find something to enjoy. Another movie collection to check out is Kanopy, a collection of documentary and older classics that can be streamed. While not quite Netflix, it still has some great movies.

5. Westlaw Attorney and Judge Directory - There are numerous directories out there for judges and attorneys, but Westlaw's has two built-in advantages: first, you can review cases and opinions over time and see how a judge is likely to rule (or where attorneys have argued). Second, it's already available to you as a UW Law Student! This tool can be used to gather information about judges that you can potentially clerk for, or to learn more about firms during a job search. Feel free to ask a a librarian about using this useful and somewhat underappreciated tool.

6. Google Earth Timelapse - Having little (if anything) to do with law, this is just too cool to miss. Using photos taken from space over a period of 32 years, Timelapse lets you view nearly any part of the world and how it has evolved in that time span. The changes in Dubai and Las Vegas are especially astounding to watch. Watch your hometown (or Madison) grow and shrink. It's mesmerizing!

7. Trailblazer Chrome Extension - We've all been there. You are researching and searching and opening seemingly hundreds of tabs. Trailblazer, a free extension (you do have to create an account) that maps out the sites you visit. You can name each trail you create so you know where you have searched for a particular topic already. Star the pages that were really great, and stop the recording whenever you are finished. A cool way to track your progress without having to remember the tabs that you have visited already.

8. LexisNexis News Alerts - In addition to being an amazing research tool, Lexis is also home to numerous newspapers. Browse or search their holdings to find a newspaper that you want to read, and set up an alert for new articles or issues. Many newspapers are added the same day (or one day later) so you are able to effectively stay current. There are so many sources, it can be intimidating to find your favorite! Ask a librarian to help you set up alerts or to locate a particular source.

9. Apps for Legal Professionals - Law Librarians provide research guides that collect useful (and mostly low-cost) apps that can be used by law students and attorneys. You can find plenty of apps ranging from research to presentations to studying to productivity for either the IPad/IPhone or for Android devices by browsing their respective guides. If you think we are missing a hugely helpful app, please let us know!

10. Litsy - One last fun app. If you enjoy reading and sharing your favorites with others, Litsy is the new place for you. Litsy combines bibliomania with social media. Put your favorite books on your 'shelf' find recommendations, follow authors and post fun pictures of your current reading obsession. Of course there is a reading app to finish up the list...I'm a librarian!

I hope that some of these technologies are useful or distracting (or both!) Good luck on your exams, and we'll see you in the library!

Submitted by Kristopher Turner on January 18, 2017

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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