Ask not whether legal research can be done your smartphone. Ask only how to choose the right app.
Let's narrow it down. Smartphone users can already do generic word processing, email, GPS, and file storage. Lawyers share these tasks with others.
But focusing just on legal research, three applications for smart phones stand out.
1. LawBox: Available through iTunes, this library provides free iPhone access to current statutes of California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Arizona, Florida and Delaware.
2. LawStack: Available for iPhone and in a universal version, this library provides free access to the federal rules of civil procedure, criminal procedure, appellate procedure, evidence and bankruptcy, and the U.S. Constitution. One great feature of this library is the date is given for each enactment. As a judge once said, there is nothing more dangerous than old law books.
3. Fastcase: This comprehensive national law library contains searchable, sortable and readable primary law from all 50 states, plus federal coverage to 1 U.S. 1, 1 F.2d 1, 1 F.Supp. 1, and 1 Bankr.Rptr. 1. The library is available through 17 state bar associations, Fastcase offers a free 24-hour trial, and plans vary from $65.00 to $95.00 per month. Fastcase search results ordinate like Google searches, so the best hits are listed first.
Finally, although not written specifically for lawyers, you should check out Dropbox. Dropbox, a free download, allows you to store text files created on any smartphone, laptop or desktop "in the cloud" -- i.e., in a secure place in cyberspace where your mobile device can always fetch it back.
This list only scratches the surface of legal research that can be done on your smartphone. The list is increasing daily, and the technologically-aware lawyer needs to take notice.