Monday, March 24, 2014

Mobile Apps for Legal Research #15: Bloomberg Law

Bloomberg Law has released a new app (iOS and Android) to accompany its research platform (the app requires a Bloomberg Law account). As with the app's predecessor, Bloomberg Law Reports, Bloomberg chose to make a reader to supplement bloomberglaw.com, rather than a mobile version of the search platform. But this app takes advantage of Bloomberg Law's full catalog of resources, not just the Law Reports.

The Bloomberg Law app went with function over form compared to Bloomberg Law Reports. The sleek lines and judicious use of white space are gone, replaced by a love for gray and black backgrounds--the app's homepage is gray on black.



Some people might find the design attractive, but I do not. The app does deliver immediately on content. The home page features headlines and links that let you jump straight into Bloomberg's content. This app will start keeping you up-to-date on legal news from the moment you open it.


The app divides its content into four groups: News, Watchlist, Alerts, and the Queue.

News
The app has a built in feed of the top legal news from Bloomberg News. You can also view results for legal news searches you set up in bloomberglaw.com. This feature is nice, but is redundant since the app also pulls content from search alerts created in bloomberglaw.com (more on alerts later).

News is also the place where Bloomberg Law put its Law Reports content. The app allows you to view the list of available reports and subscribe to them in-app.



This is a huge improvement over the Bloomberg Law Reports App. Unfortunately, subscribing to a report still signs you up for the email newsletter, so be prepared to be spammed if you want to read many Law Reports on your iPhone.


In addition to its Law Reports, Bloomberg Law has created news topics. You can subscribe to topics in the app and get regular updates of articles on the topics. News topics don't come with email newsletters, so you can sign up for as many as interest you without fear for your inbox.

Once you access a news article, the app lets you email it or add it to your queue.



The queue is how you make articles available for offline reading. It also syncs with the queue on bloomberglaw.com, so you can easily pull up the article on bloomberglaw.com and download or print it.

Watchlist
The Watchlist contains the apps company information. The watchlist provides reports on public companies: company profile, stock tracking, and company-related news. A company's watchlist also lists federal cases where the company was named as a party. The cases are divided by the topic of the litigation, and the app provides links to the dockets if they are available. Adding companies is easy--just tap the plus sign in the corner of the watchlist page and search for a company.



Removing them is even easier. When you access a company on the watchlist, the app features a prominent Remove from Watchlist button at the top of the report.




Alerts
The Alerts feature lets you access the results of any search or docket alert you create on bloomberg.com. You cannot alert the alerts from the app, but you can view any content found by the alert. This is one of the ways that the app gives you access to Bloomberg Law content beyond news.

Queue
The Queue is a mirror of your queue on bloomberglaw.com. The idea beyond the queue in the app is that is serves as the mechanism for offline reading. The app does not download content by default. If you want to view articles, you have to be connected to the Internet. But if you turn on offline reading in the settings (offline reading is the only setting, so it's easy to find), the app will download everything in your queue.

The queue is also a way to bring any content from bloomberglaw.com into the app. The app's queue syncs with your bloomberglaw.com queue, so anything you add to your queue on bloomberglaw.com can be viewed in the app. Every document on bloomberglaw.com can be added to your queue, so the queue allows you to read anything from Bloomberg Law in the app. Just remember that you can only have 50 documents in your bloomberglaw.com queue at one time--you can't use the queue to create a portable version of Bloomberg Law on your iPad.

The new Bloomberg Law app is not the prettiest app I have seen, but it is a must have for current awareness. Bloomberg Law generates reams of news content daily. To be able to quickly bring that content up on your mobile device is worth a little black space.

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