The IPad is a perfect compliment to a paperless office. In essence your iPad is to your desk what a scanner is to your files. I suck at analogies so just go with it! Since starting my firm a month after passing the bar by myself I quickly learned that not only did I know nothing about practicing law, but I didn’t have any document samples either. I didn’t have the luxury of a form file. I got by early on from the graciousness of my brother’s firm and some compassionate attorneys who took pity on me, but begging for documents got old quickly.
So I cranked up the internets machine and started hunting for documents. One day I’d need a will to start from, or a deed, and I started making a form file like everybody else. But it was a hodgepodge collection at best, and a slow process. That is, until I discovered Docstoc.
Docstoc is a form library that has just about any type of legal or business document you could ever need, most of them free to download. Quite often when I’m in need of a form I can even find an Alabama-specific download to suit my needs. I had to sign up for a free account, but it’s been almost worth paying for. If the free forms weren’t so good most of the time I probably would pony up for a premium account. But perhaps the greatest thing about Docstoc occurred today when they released an iPad app.
Now I don’t have to be at my office at all to access sample forms for download. As anyone with an Apple device will tell you, an IPad is like an island to be cliche. Whatever you brought with you from the office is what’s on your iPad island with a few cloud-based exceptions. Sure you could load documents into Dropbox like I do, but until today you were SOL if you didn’t already have the document by the time you left your desk. Enter Docstoc. With a free account you can now search for thousands of documents and your results, both free and paid, are available to add to your paperless or virtual form file library.
Once you find what you need, you can print from the iPad to an AirPrint capable device or download the file. If you click “Download” a popup will tell you that the document is now in your documents library in the app (whatever good that is) and that the document has been emailed to you.
There are a few things I’ll mention that I’m not fond of about this app. For starters the developers really go out of their way to funnel your searches toward paid downloads. I can’t be sure, but it seems to me that the real website is a lot more forthcoming with free downloadable files. I understand that the developers want to get paid, but it seems a little shady to me.
Secondly, I’m not real wild about the layout of the app. It’s got a ton of menus to peruse and frankly, it just seems like eye candy clutter. Most folks aren’t gonna be sitting on their iPad just browsing for forms to download. Sure I’ll be doing that a little to beef up my form file when I’m waiting for my name to be called in court, but I think it’s safe to say that the concept of this app, it’s genius, is to be able to get your hands on a sample form that you can quickly manipulate while you’re away from the office or waiting for a docket call. They need to focus on simple search results first, and eye candy second.
Finally, you’ll quickly find that once you download a file, and go to your email to access it, that you’ll be redirected to Docstoc’s website for the real download. In other words the app is essentially a touchscreen portal for the website, and that’s cool. What’s not cool is when you are redirected to the site and you click the big green “Download” button and a you get a popup telling you that your free file will cost you to download!
That ain’t cool! I got supremely pissed at being scammed in this manner until I hit a button or something on the site and a login screen appeared. I logged in and clicked the download button again and it went forward without incident. Apparently the app is not much of a portal if logging in to the app doesn’t log you in to the site. I can’t help but think it’s just a last ditch effort at getting at your coin. Shady.
I elected to open this document in Pages so I could get to work editing. I’m really excited about this app, even after the tomfoolery. To be able to search for documents then download them to your device for editing. That’s huge folks, and I think it’s only the beginning.