Palm Beach Lawyer Had Too Many Fancy Phones, Created an App

Mark your calendars, ladies and gents, as the day a Palm Beach lawyer didn't charge you for a service -- not a lump sum, not by the hour, not by your first- born. Christopher Hopkins, an attorney with Butzel Long on Worth Avenue, has developed a free iPhone app that all but replaces law school... or at least that boring 8 a.m. class with the stuffy professor but we all survived fine without that, didn't we?

Called the CLaw (Christopher + Law), the app's outfitted with state and local rules of professional conduct. For example, "There was a question about what standard notice you give when scheduling depositions, and I referred to the Palm Beach bar guidelines," Hopkins says. "It's five days."

So sure, it may never reach the same popularity with the masses as "iBeer," but it's set to make the law process more efficient and painless. Follow the jump for a Q&A with Hopkins:

What was the lightbulb moment when you knew this thing had to exist?

I saw a number of lawyers moving from Blackberries to iPhones, and it dawned on me that having the set of rules with you at all times seemed like the best way to do it. It's easier to read documents and get on the Internet on the iPhone. There were times when I had both a Blackberry and an iPhone and I'd get a PDF on the Blackberry and have to forward it to the iPhone to read it.

But how on earth did you know how to, you know, actually create an app?

Before law school I worked for a trade association for the software industry. Other than that, it's just sort of been an interest. I've handled some defamation cases where someone writes something on a blog or on Facebook.

So, why's it free?

It wouldn't seem like a great idea to sell people the ethical rules. [Laughs] This started as a hobby... I'm going to make a premium version which would have rules of evidence, rules of civil procedure, and appellate rules on it, so instead of walking around with a big book, it's just one little application. I'll charge for that one.

Aha. And what did lawyers do before this kind of technology? Cheat sheets? Learn it?

Cheat sheets, no. I think you'd just have to rely on your own memory. If it was something that you had time to deal with you might pick up a phone and call another lawyer.

So this way you guys never have to talk!

Yes! [Laughing] It's easier this way.

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