The problem with being lawyer is that people think we are walking legal encyclopaedias. How many times have we been ambushed with legal queries during parties? In my experience, once I am introduced as a lawyer, I am immediately bombarded with legal questions of all sorts, whether it’s problems about business, family, relationships, or absolutely anything under the sun.
For some reason, people believe that lawyers have answers to all their questions. And of course, we lawyers never admit that we have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. We pretend to know everything.
Hence, it is very important for us to have a handy compendium of relevant laws, rules and regulations. Law Juan is an iOS app that supposedly addresses this situation. It advertises itself as having a collection of more than 15,000 Philippine laws. I have had the app in my iPhone for some time now. And this is what I think about it.
Versions: There are three free versions of this app: Constitution, Rules of Court and Jurisprudence. But here, we are going to talk about the main, full and paid version of Law Juan.
Cost: The full version costs USD9.99 or roughly Php500.00.
File Size: 33 MB
APPEARANCE AND INTERFACE
Law Juan is a simple, text-based app. You will not find any images, videos, graphics or any other content therein. It does not even have its logo within the app. It’s text, text and text everywhere. And, that is just perfect considering that the purpose of this app is for pure research.
Immediately, upon opening the app, you will be taken to a simple menu with the following options:
- Search: A simple keyword search engine that allows you to filter the entire database and hopefully, help you look for the law, rule or regulation you are looking for.
- Law Juan: This will lead you to the app’s full database, sorted into Philippine Constitution, Legislative Enactments, Executive Issuances and Rules of Court. If you know the exact and specific Republic Act or Batas Pambansa number you are looking for, you can simply browse through these categories and find your target. But of course, except for BP22, none of us lawyers really know the exact designation of the laws we need.
- Bookmarks: The app allows you to create bookmarks for laws and other legal documents. Thereafter, you can browse all the bookmarked documents in this field.
- Notes: You can attach a note to any law or legal document and find them all under this category.
- Highlights: The app allows you to highlight particular words or phrases that are relevant to you. Then, when browsing the document, you can immediately see the highlighted portions in yellow. Furthermore, you can find a list of all the highlighted words, separate from the rest of the document. I believe this is most useful for law students who need to memorize certain legal provisions.
- Tags: Tags can also be added to any legal document. Thereafter, all the tags you placed are listed in this menu. It also shows you the number of laws and rules, which you tagged with a specific word.
- PDF Copy: Laws, rules and other legal documents can be converted into PDF copies and sent by email.
- History: Shows the legal documents recently viewed.
- Settings: Allows you to change the font and size of the texts. You can also adjust the paper size for exported PDF Documents.
From the main menu, it’s a matter of finding the specific law, rule, regulation, or other legal document you need. Once you do find these documents, you will discover that it appears in a simple text format, which is easy to read. As mentioned above, you can then add bookmarks, notes or tags. You can convert it to PDF and send it thru email.
A portable, useful and handy compendium of laws. The best thing about this app is its handiness. You can immediately browse laws, rules, regulations, and other legal documents from your iPhone or iPad. You do not even need Internet connection, as the entire collection is available offline. Thus, whether you are in court, in a classroom, in your car, in a party, or anywhere else, you have immediate access to thousands of Philippine Laws and Legislative Issuances.
A large and updated collection of Philippine laws. The developers claim that Law Juan contains more than 15,000 Philippine Laws, including the present Constitution; the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions; 844 Batas Pambansa; 2034 Presidential Decrees; over 10,000 Republic Acts; over 2,000 Executive Orders; and the Rules of Court. It is a very impressive collection. And, so far, I have always found all the laws that I needed. Furthermore, the developers are constantly updating the collection. In fact, as I was writing this article, I received notice that there was another update for Law Juan.
Simple and user-friendly. Most of the older generation of lawyers have a natural aversion to technology. In fact, I know some lawyers who still use old-school planners because they simply refuse to use the calendar features of their phones. It is fortunate, especially for these older generation of lawyers, that Law Juan’s interface is very simple, straightforward, and user-friendly. Any lawyer, with a basic knowledge of using apps can use Law Juan.
The useful tagging feature. As mentioned above, Law Juan allows users to add tags to documents. This feature is very useful when categorising laws. You can create your own category through these tags. For example, you find certain laws relevant to a case you are handling (e.g. “Case X”). You can then tag all these relevant laws as “Case X” and immediately find all of them under this tag.
The useful PDF conversion tool. This is another feature I find very useful. Imagine that you are a Junior Associate in a firm. The impatient and bossy Partner then asks you to find a specific law. Instead of going to the library and browsing hundreds of books, and instead of searching the Internet, you can simply conduct the search in your iPhone. You can then convert it to PDF and immediately send it to your impatient Partner via email or iMessage. You can even print it directly from phone if you have a wireless printer.
A weak search engine. The only problem I find with this app is its search engine. Although, it is easy to find a certain law, it takes some time to find the specific provision within that law. For example, I am looking for a provision dealing with “Formal Offers”. The search engine gives you an option to search for keywords in the title or the body. Since I am looking for a provision within a law or rule, I will type words “Formal Offer” in the “body” search. The app then lists all the laws with the words Formal Offer in it. Here is the problem: since the app lists only the title of the law containing the said keywords, you would have to look at each and every law listed to determine which one you need. It would have been better and easier if the app shows the sentence where your keywords appear, just like what Google or Yahoo does. But there is another problem. The app does not immediately take you to the provision where your keywords appear. Thus, in my example, if after browsing the list, you realize that the provision you need is in the Rules of Evidence, you would have to select the said Rule. You will discover that the app takes you to the top of the Rules of Evidence. You would then have to scroll down and read the entire rule to find the words “Formal Offer”. The app does provide another search engine within the document. Thus, once you select the Rules of Court, you can simply type the words “Formal Offer” in this new search engine. However, you will realize that this search engine is not that accurate for phrases. You will have to trim down your search into single words. In my example, it cannot find the phrase “Formal Offer”. However, if you type “formal” or “offer”, it works just fine.
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I would have given Law Juan perfect 5 stars had it not been for the search engine. Despite this, however, I still find the app very useful, especially in situations when you need to do fast, on-the-spot research. It is definitely worth the P500.00, which it costs. I believe that all lawyers should have Law Juan in their iPhones.