In the Beginning
Much like Apple’s other businesses, Mac sales have grown remarkably in recent years. At first it was the “halo effect” of folks buying first an iPod and then a Mac. Then came the iPhone and the iPad, both of which spurred additional Mac sales. Previous Windows-only bastions fell as employees demanded IT departments adapt to Apple products. At some firms, this change was motivated by “C-level” employees demanding that company email work with their new devices. At others, “bring your own device” polices drove platform variety into the mainstream. This device variety was further enabled by cloud computing and other platform-agnostic technologies.
The Office Today
I think it’s fair to say that today’s office is very different from the 1990s. In the legal environment, we see the rise of web-based case-management software like RocketMatter, Clio, and even old-line firms like Amicus Attorney going into the cloud. None of these solutions requires more than a web browser to access case data. All work perfectly well with Safari on the Mac. And that’s just one example of flexible computing in the modern law office.
But without knowing the available resources, you’re left to wonder what your Mac can do in a formerly PC-centric environment. That’s what I’m going to share with you today.
Socialize Your Mac to the Law Firm
The first thing to know is that you are neither the first nor the only attorney working on a Mac. There are many networking resources out there to help you maximize your Mac in your law practice.
1) The first resource I recommend is the Macs In Law Office Google Group. This group operates as a traditional listserv (for those of you who’ve been on the Internet long enough to remember such things). You can subscribe to receive either every message sent to the group or just daily summaries of the topics discussed. This community is an excellent resource to address your Mac concerns, ask about Mac-specific case management apps, like Daylite, or just which scanner or printer work best in a Mac office environment.
2) A second great resource are the blogs and Twitter feeds that cater to Mac-using attorneys. These are, of course, free to all, and serve as a tremendous resource for innovative Mac tools in the law office. Two of my favorites are David Sparks’ blog, MacSparky, and Ben Stevens’ blog, The Mac Lawyer.
David not only practices full time in California and maintains a lively Mac law office blog, but he has also published three iBooks on Mac technology, including launching your paperless office and using Mac OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion, more effectively. He also hosts a weekly Mac office podcast, Mac Power Users.
3) Many (most?) of we Mac-using attorneys also rely on iOS devices. If that crowd includes you, avail yourself of Jeff Richardson’s iPhone J.D. blog. He reviews both products and legal-specific apps, giving detailed usage scenarios where the product or app makes sense, and whether it lives up to the marketers’ hype.
4) Finally, meeting other users on the Internet is helpful and convenient, but it doesn’t always make up for personal, face-to-face contact with fellow Mac-using lawyers. Given the rising popularity of Macs in legal offices, and the hard work of recent ABA TechShow planners, the country’s largest technology event for lawyers includes a full “Mac track” on effectively using your Mac to practice law. If you’re not able to attend the annual April show in Chicago, or prefer something warmer and more relaxing than Chicago in Spring, I highly recommend the much more intimate, and thoroughly enjoyable MILOfest Conference.
MILOfest is an outgrowth of the MILO listserv I mentioned above, and the brainchild of MILO member, and practicing New Jersey attorney, Victor Medina. This conference, now in its fifth year, is coming up in October at Disney World in Florida. The conference is affordable as legal conferences go, $700 if you register before September 24th. In addition to the opportunity to learn from and socialize with Mac legal enthusiasts, you also gain reduced fee hotel and tickets to Disney in the heart of a Florida Fall. Take a look at the schedule and see if the topics interest you.
Hopefully this article provided you with some useful social networking resources to better use Macs in the your law office. As always, if you have questions or want additional information, feel free to contact me. And I hope to see you at MILOfest this October.