Can I Use a Mac at My Law Office?

Can I Use a Mac at My Law Office?

I work with lots of firms that are either starting up or looking to move to the cloud. One question comes up over and over – Can I use a Mac instead of a PC in my firm? The answer is usually YES! However, while the answer may be yes for some attorneys, it’s good to know why the answer might be no for you in particular.

While the majority of law firms are still running in the Windows environment, more people than ever are using Macs in law offices these days.  In the past, Macs could not run the software necessary to operate in a law firm, but cloud-based practice management and time and billing systems have bridged the gap between Macs and PCs. Cloud-based software can be run on Macs and Windows PCs equally, and can be accessed using most major internet browsers.

Let’s consider a few good reasons to move to a Mac:

  1. You have a Mac at home and you are comfortable with the operating system, and saving and downloading files in the Mac OS X environment.
  2. You don’t mind looking for your own answers and doing a little tinkering when the Mac needs to behave in PC world (such as connecting projectors in a Windows-based environment.)
  3. You are tired of being frustrated by technology and want to use a computer that just works, all the time, with very little maintenance.

If you are willing to make the initial investment in time and money, a Mac provides a great return on investment. They are easy to learn, easy to get up and running and inexpensive to maintain. Go for it!

However, be sure that you are not making the decision for the wrong reasons.  Consider these common misconceptions about moving to a Mac:

  1. “I have an iPad and iPhone so I thought I’d get a Mac because they’ll work the same way.”
    • Reality Check – iPads and iPhones are a great introduction to the Mac OS X, but the interface and functionality are different. The Mac is not an iPad with a keyboard. It is a powerful computer with an operating system that can take time to get used to.
  2. “My kids have a Mac (or my friend has a Mac) and they say it’s really easy and I should set up my office based on a Mac.”
    • Reality Check – The Mac environment is easy as long as you take some time to learn how it works. If you are starting a new firm and are still trying to figure out how Quickbooks works, you may not want to add another level of complication.
  3. “Anyone can learn how to use a Mac!”
    • Reality Check – You are never too old to learn. But, if you are not willing to learn something new, maybe you should stick with something that you know.

Several other items to consider about Macs in law offices today:

  1. Mac-based law firms typically require less investment in IT after the initial purchase.
  2. If there is an essential tool in your software toolbox for your firm (Best Case for Bankruptcy firms or SoftPro for Real Estate firms), confirm that the software will work in a Mac environment.
  3. Macs have the ability to operate a session of Windows on the Mac. If one program that you require is only available on a Windows environment, a system like Parallels or VMWare Fusion can allow you to access a Windows environment on the Mac.
  4. There are great resources available for attorneys in Mac environments that were not even around five years ago. Resources like The Mac Lawyer (www.themaclawyer.com), Macs In Law (www.macsinlaw.com) and groups like MILO (Macs in Law Offices) are great ways to get up to speed with Macs in law fast.

After considering these options, you can decide if a Mac is the right choice for you. However, if you believe that a Mac is right for you, you will not be disappointed.   After the initial learning curve with the operating system, you will find that Macs are stable, workhorse machines that run well for years and need little support and maintenance. As the saying goes, “Once you go Mac, you will never go back!”

Good luck!
Featured image: “Laptop and pencil” from Shutterstock.

About Pegeen Turner

Pegeen Turner
Pegeen Turner is the President of Legal Cloud Technology, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based legal technology firm. Her firm works with small and medium-sized law firms as they start-up as well as firms that need help maintaining and integrating legal technology into their practice. In addition, she helps firms understand the risks of cloud computing and how to incorporate cloud computing into their practice. Email | Website | Twitter
  • http://injuryattorneyflorida.com/ Tina Willis

    I’ve been researching this exact question for a few weeks after my PC crashed due to some weird Windows activation glitch. Thanks for writing this informative article!

  • Gary Goltz

    There was one very important fact omitted from this article. With a software program called Parallels you can run almost any Window’s based software program on your Mac. The program has been out for years and has been refined so many times that it is virtually glitch free and easy to use. We are exclusively Mac based and have no problems at all. In fact, we don’t even have a part-time IT guy, just a consultant we call every once in a while that is a Mac expert. You can find guys at the Mac store that will consult on the side. Our guy is $40/hour and he’s fantastic. Don’t hesitate to go to a Mac environment. It really is stress-free compared to PC’s.

    • Pegeen Turner

      I agree! Parallels is great. Check out item #3 above.

      • Gary Goltz

        Sorry, hectic day. Didn’t see it.

  • Gary Goltz

    There are competing programs to Parallels, so you do have other choices. I just like Parallels the best and its very inexpensive.

  • http://www.lvstrategies.com Cathy Kenton

    I’m not a lawyer, but a former paralegal and consultant helping legal vendors. A couple of years ago I threw up my hands in frustration over the Windows environment and moved to a Mac. I love the fact that it always runs, requires reboot only occasionally, is fast, and has great battery life.

    Now for the bad news, I live in Office and run the full Office 2011 for Mac. It is sadly lacking in features that I used every day. I’ve lived with the limitations for two years now, and just moved to Office 365. My associates (all Windows users) moved over easily, but my experience was and continues to be a nightmare.

    Conclusion, if your professional life requires heavy use of Office, stick with Windows…I’m going back!