MLaw Student Creates BriefCase. App to Help Law Students Streamline Research
By Katie Vloet
March 4, 2014
David Lutz had perfected an intricate system for highlighting cases for his classes at Michigan Law that helped him study and provide quick responses during classroom cold calls: orange for facts, blue for procedural history, pink for rules, and so on. "My books looked like the Rainbow Connection," the 3L said.
It was a good system—one that he learned from his roommate, Noah Goodman, '13, who learned it from students before him—but he still ended up retyping everything on the page that was highlighted, a process that required at least an hour each night. His frustration grew when he was on a flight and found himself retyping the highlighted information from a scanned PDF of his readings to create a brief. "I thought, 'there has to be a better way.'"
There wasn't, so Lutz followed his entrepreneurial instincts and created one.
His work with developers led to the BriefCase. app for iPads (available in both Free and Premium versions for $9.99/year in the iTunes App Store), in which users can annotate PDFs with up to nine colors and automatically generate a brief with bullet points based on the color-coded highlights in the text. Each bullet point links back to the text, Lutz said, "so you never have to thumb through a 20-page document just to find a quote."
PDFs can be imported from Lexis, Westlaw, or other platforms. The briefs that are generated can be uploaded to Dropbox or Google Drive so students can access their work anywhere.
"With BriefCase., I really wanted to create a tool that makes law students more efficient in the face of large amounts of information," said Lutz, who is also a student attorney in the Michigan Law Entrepreneurship Clinic. "Instead of a four-step process of researching, printing, annotating and retyping briefs, BriefCase. lets you research, annotate, and then you're done. We're taking your Black's Law Dictionary, highlighters, folders, and computer, and putting them all in one. It's really like making the entire desk of a law student digital and easier to work with."
Lutz is looking to build BriefCase. after graduation, and he hopes to raise some funds and find future team members. For more information, visit www.thebriefcaseapp.com.
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