I do a lot of drafting and it is crucial that I know the precise meaning of words in the legal context. Especially when converting legal documents into plain language. For example, if you are converting terms and conditions in plain language, you have to know exactly what you are saying.

So, I have used many legal dictionaries over the years. I made a discovery last night, which I feel compelled to tell everybody about. It’s just such a wonderful thing. I have long been a fan of Black’s Law Dictionary. It is edited by Bryan A. Garner  and is a truly wonderful resource –  it is the most comprehensive law dictionary ever published. In the past, the problem has been that it is such a huge book because it contains 45,000 terms.  This makes it an manageable and difficult to use. It has also being quite expensive.

I was looking at buying it from an online bookseller recently but it seemed quite expensive and at 1401 pages I’d have to find a rather large space for it in my office. It was also going to take a long time to get to me. And I needed it now.

So, you can imagine my joy when I found that it is available as an iPad App. Within a minute I had it in my hand. You can search for a term you looking for and find it really quickly. There is full cross-referencing to all other related terms using hyperlinks. You can bookmark terms that are particularly relevant and interesting to refer to regain later. For example, there are certain words that keep on coming up in documents that I’m converting. I’m able to bookmark them quickly go back to them when I need them. You can also listen to the pronunciation of certain words. It is a great example of how technology (in the form of an iPad) can make a good resource just so much better. And it costs about half the price of the actual book. This is just another example of why every lawyer needs a tablet.

Anyone who needs to know the precise meaning of legal terms should get it. Even though it is largely applicable to the American legal system, it is very useful for South Africa. And get a tablet too.

PS. I’m not getting paid to punt either of these products.