Recently, Stetson University College of Law Professor Dr. Kirsten K. Davis, along with her husband and app designer Chris Reich, joined the legal app revolution! Their app, My Legal Writing Coach MEMOS, assists you in writing a predictive or objective legal memo. The multi-platform app, available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, is available now.
I had the opportunity to catch-up with Dr. Davis to discuss her new legal app.
Nancy Patterson: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Kirsten Davis: I am a native of Ohio, and I attended The Ohio State University for my BA and my JD. My Ph.D. is in Human Communication from Arizona State University. As you already mentioned, I am currently a Professor of Law at Stetson University College of Law in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. Before I went into law teaching, I was a federal judicial clerk and then practiced law, primarily litigation but also some employment and taxation. Now I teach beginning and advanced legal research and writing courses as well as professional responsibility.
NP: Where did the idea for My Legal Writing Coach: Memos come from and how long have you been working on this project?
KD: I noticed that there were few, if any, legal writing resources on mobile platforms for law students and newer lawyers. I wanted to fill that void with something that was of good quality and easy to use. Plus, I wanted it to be an affordable tool so that anyone who had mobile technology could buy it as a resource. The idea itself began a couple of years ago; we really got going on the development this year.
NP: Well we have something in common then because my husband and I collaborated on our legal app, too! I would imagine the decision to take your app multi-platform must have been quite the discussion. What was the decision process like?
KD: It really all came back to affordable availability for the law student and lawyer communities. We wanted to reach as broad an audience as possible, so it made sense to develop it for the most commonly used types of mobile technology.
NP: Briefly explain how your app works.
KD: The app is designed to coach students and newer lawyers through the process of drafting quality internal legal memoranda and to do that writing efficiently. The app coaches on both research and writing, provides research and writing checklists, and has fully annotated sample memos that may be viewed or downloaded. The app also allows you to cut & paste and take notes as you progress through the content.
NP: Dr. Davis, What are other tech tools do you use on a regular basis that may be helpful to law students and new lawyers?
KD: There are more and more quality research tools emerging for mobile use—both fee-based and free. Those really help me because I tend to work from a variety of locations. Plus, I love that I can pull up legal resources, like cases, statutes, and administrative provisions, on my iPad or iPhone and then use my laptop to draft documents (or in my case, articles or class notes!) while I’m sitting at my desk or at the local coffee house. I also love the availability of note-taking apps and pdf annotators which help me keep my materials available anywhere and everywhere.
NP: Dr. Davis, What one piece of advice do you have for law students and new lawyers who want to succeed in this digital age?
KD: Ultimately, technology use for lawyers should be about creating competent legal advice and representation rather than just consuming information—that’s sometimes a difficult mental adjustment to make where technology often encourages “finding” answers rather than “creating” solutions. But I think making that shift to “creator” is really important to being a great lawyer. And since wireless technology is available to us in class, sometimes students have the opportunity to do a little real-time research as part of our discussions, using instantly available information to create legal solutions. I try to get my students to be critical evaluators of technology, not just consumers of it. Lawyers must provide competent advice to clients, and the information they use to build that advice must be reliable. Moreover, I impress upon my students how busy lawyers, in choosing tech tools, should choose what helps them be more efficient and produce higher quality work. So, I encourage my students to evaluate the reliability of the information they find on the web and the usefulness of the tech tools they use.
NP: Where can busy law students and new lawyers download My Legal Writing Coach Memos app?