In the interest of DroidLaw’s reputation I have decided to respond to the recent PCWorld article written by 4 month veteran freelance writer Paul Jickling. If you would like to show your support for (or against) DroidLaw please leave a comment here. I will provide links to Paul Jickling’s review below should you have a desire to comment on the original article.
DroidLaw is useless to professionals and covers topics that are of little to no interest for casual users.
- It is hard for me to take this statement serious when DroidLaw has a user base of over 25,000 with an average rating of 4.6/5.0 stars.
It is hard to figure out what to make of DroidLaw. Essentially, it is a free legal research and reference tool, but with such a limited capacity for research that I can’t imagine any legal professional would be caught dead using it in place of traditional research methods and resources.
- DroidLaw does provide the Federal Rules and a few other reference materials free of charge to the legal community. Legal professionals should never rely exclusively on DroidLaw for their legal research needs, this is a given.
- Mr. Jickling, pay attention to detail; If you were thorough in your assessment of DroidLaw you would have noticed the Legal Disclaimer that states in part:
“The information contained within DroidLaw… DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. We made all attempts at providing the most up to date and quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to DroidLaw and its associates. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, thus nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.”
The best way to illustrate the problem with DroidLaw is to try a little thought experiment. Imagine that someone has just got into a nasty car collision with someone else and is seeing a personal injury lawyer about a lawsuit. The lawyer gets to work figuring out what he needs to do to get the lawsuit moving by consulting DroidLaw. After the client gets billed some enormous sum for legal research because the lawyer inefficiently spent a lot of time looking up statutes and rules on DroidLaw, a well-written complaint that follows all the rules according to federal court is finally completed and sent to court and to the other party.
- Mr. Jickling, you do not “consult” DroidLaw. The hypothetical situation you present above exemplifies an individual lawyer’s violation of the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Any half intelligent lawyer is well aware of their ethical obligations and responsibilities. For you to present this as a “little thought experiment” is insulting to the legal profession.
- This hypothetical does not illustrate a problem with DroidLaw, sir, it illustrates a problem with the personal injury lawyer’s ability to practice law competently. Your “thought experiment” is not very well thought through and is simply illogical.
A week or so later, the case is dismissed because the lawyer did not file in the right court. For what could be a variety of reasons, the lawyer didn’t know that the case should have been filed in state court, not federal court. Had the lawyer used traditional research methods, he would have known better, but the lawyer could not find any information about that on DroidLaw. The client in turn sues the lawyer for malpractice and wins, and a court opinion is written stating that an attorney cannot use a program like DroidLaw to conduct legal research. However, you wouldn’t be able to read about that opinion on DroidLaw because it doesn’t include a feature to look up court opinions.
- I agree with you; a court would likely see this as malpractice. However, this begs the question of why, in reviewing DroidLaw, you would bring up such a hypothetical situation. Again, this is not an issue with DroidLaw; the real issue has to do with the way in which the individual lawyer conducted his research. There are a wide variety of reference resources available to legal professionals today, mobile or otherwise. It goes to the professional responsibility of the individual to know the limitations of each resource he or she uses. Lawyers, law students and paralegals should all be well aware of this. Mr. Jickling, having been certified in Paralegal Studies, why would you not take this into account when writing your review?
These are most of the important issues that prevent DroidLaw from being used as a serious legal research tool: It covers a limited amount of material, the search tools are crude, it is difficult to navigate and read, and it currently has no material available other than certain federal procedural rules (no court opinions, either). It has other problems as well, but I don’t want to belabor the point too much. DroidLaw simply is in no way a tool for good legal research.
- DroidLaw is not and has never held itself out to be a serious legal research tool. DroidLaw is a legal reference mobile application.
- Yes, DroidLaw covers a limited amount of material but we are working hard every day with what limited resources we have to increase the content. We are no Westlaw or LexisNexis. By the end of November all 50 state codes will be available to DroidLaw users. Your review is an insult to all the hard work we’ve put in to get to this point.
- Mr. Jickling, your article is factually incorrect. DroidLaw currently has additional material other than “certain federal procedural rules”. For starters, the entire United States Code, United State Supreme Court case opinions and various state laws are available.
You can buy add-ons to expand the amount of material on DroidLaw, but even this is pretty limited in scope. Some state law gets added, but so far the only states listed are California, Florida, New York, and Texas. None are comprehensive, and I would recommend against buying any of this material anyway, since most of it can be found on the Internet for free.
- According to my purchase logs, Mr. Jickling has not purchased a single add-on for DroidLaw. Again, if this review was fair, professional and thorough the author would have first-hand knowledge of what it is he is criticizing.
- Mr. Jickling, what basis to you have to say “None are comprehensive” when you have not even seen the material? The Ohio Revised Code (which you failed to mention in your article) contains Ohio’s revised code in its entirety. The United States Code add-on (which, again, you failed to mention in your article) contains the entire comprehensive United States Code.
- It is no secret that all the material is freely available on the internet. However, DroidLaw provides legal reference material in a format for mobile devices. The value is associated with convenience, ease of access, and the MANY OTHER FEATURES you failed to mention:
- Users can save all the content offline eliminating the need for a data connection (many courtrooms have issues with 3G connectivity).
- Users can create different “workspaces” where they can bookmark and organize Federal Rules, case opinions, RSS feeds and laws to their liking.
- Users can cut/copy/paste the material.
- Users can share all of the material via the Android “Share” function.
Mr. Jickling, thank you for the large jump in DroidLaw installs. DroidLaw is fortunate enough to have a target audience intelligent enough to realize the true scope, use, purpose and limitations of the mobile application.
My advice to you; do your homework before writing such a scathing review, be thorough and complete in your analysis, don’t speak to things in which you have no first-hand knowledge and lastly, don’t use hypothetical situations that illogically come to an erroneous conclusion.
You may possibly want to entertain the idea of turning that Paralegal Certificate into a Juris Doctorate.
MSN Tech & Gadget (via PCWorld): http://tech.ca.msn.com/pcworld-article.aspx?cp-documentid=26145687
Washington Post (Unfortunately you cannot comment): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/29/AR2010102903895.html
PCWorld’s DroidLaw App Profile (CAN POST OWN REVIEW): http://www.pcworld.com/appguide/app.html?id=567825&expand=false