How Much Will You Pay in Alimony? There’s an App for That
If you’re wondering how your lawyer arrives at important numbers like fines, waiting periods, possible jail time, or amounts of spousal support, help has arrived. From your divorce to your rights when you’re questioned by the police, the number of apps covering client-friendly legal topics is growing rapidly.
Lawyers are seeing more and more apps designed for their own use, including ways to do legal research on the go, access to legal dictionaries, and apps designed by firms to keep clients and others updated on specific practice areas. As a result, lawyers are also encouraging their clients to turn to technology to help them understand their legal situations.
Developers Focusing on Clients’ Needs
A small sample of client-focused apps available on the market today include:
- YourRights: Understand your rights when you deal with law enforcement.
- Nolo’s Plain English Law Dictionary: Translates legalese to help you better understand what your lawyer is saying.
- Legal Heat – 50 State Guide to Firearm Law: Can you cross that state line with the gun in the glovebox? This app gives you a quick answer.
- Massachusetts Divorce: Figure out alimony and child support payments, as well as dates/waiting periods using three different calculators, all based on Massachusetts family laws.
Divorce App is First of its Kind
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One miserable facet of divorce is math: From the simplest split down the middle of one bank account to the most complex financial situations involving spousal and child support, lawyers end up coaching clients through lots of calculations.
One Massachusetts divorce lawyer decided to make the process more transparent. So Gabriel Cheong, owner of Infinity Law Group in Quincy, Mass., developed the Massachusetts Divorce app.
Cheong was constantly explaining his calculations to divorce clients until the idea for the app struck him. “I realized … that it was simply better if they saw it themselves, and if they can play with the numbers themselves.” He says the “hands-on approach” of providing clients with the means to plug in their own numbers has the added benefit of allowing clients to give him “more informed feedback.”
A well-known speaker on technology in the law, Cheong worked with a developer to create the app and plans to push out updates for iOS 6 this fall. He says the response has been positive and notes that the app is groundbreaking, since it combines functionalities that other apps have only featured singly up to now.
Use of Apps in Law Still Growing
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Lawyers must stay current on so much data, from financial numbers to the latest judicial decisions, that it’s only natural they would seek out new and better ways to organize and access that information. But law is a conservative field, and technology has taken longer to catch the fancy of many lawyers.
“I hope the use of apps for lawyers and the legal field is on the rise,” says Cheong. “There are lots of tools that can make the practice of law better for both the lawyer and clients. More informed clients make better clients, and I see that technology and apps can help educate clients.”
Have you seen any new apps that could be useful to lawyers or clients? Let us know in the comments section below.