INTRODUCTION TO THE
LIST OF LAW OFFICE SOFTWARE
FOR THE MACINTOSH COMPUTER
Good news for the computer-literate attorney: you can bring the user-friendliness of the Macintosh to the law office! There are Macintosh applications for just about every aspect of your legal practice. This Web site will help you select the right Macintosh software for your law office.
This Web site is this Webmaster's attempt to help out all of the attorneys that I frequently hear from who need to find Macintosh-compatible software to use in their legal practice. What I have undertaken here, rather than being a list of any and all software which may be suitable for law office use, is a more limited list of the best currently available legal-specific software packages for the Macintosh computer. (Who could have guessed how large this list would turn out to be!) You should not assume, however, that the absence of a particular type of software from the list means that it does not exist for the Macintosh. Before you come to that conclusion, you should contact the Webmaster of this work. (I can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
This Web site makes it quite clear that there is plenty of law office software for the Macintosh...and then some. (Have you ever seen a list of over 180 law office software applications for the PC?) This veritable symphony of software products is due to a reawakening of interest on the part of consumers about the attractiveness of the Macintosh (at this writing the iMac is the best selling model of computer from any manufacturer), and a wealth of small companies (some of which are elusive because of small advertising budgets) producing software products of extraordinarily high quality. Most of these products have been created by practicing attorneys with true enthusiasm for the Macintosh. Apple has recently stated that it will be returning to the small business market and that the law office market will be one of the vertical markets specifically targeted.
I would appreciate it if visitors to this Web site would spread the word about this site to their colleagues and professional organizations, as well as local legal publications and Bar Associations. I would also appreciate hearing about errors, updates, additions, etc. to the information contained herein. Software developers should feel free to contact me directly via e-mail or snail-mail. Press releases are welcomed, but personal contact is preferred.
WHAT SOFTWARE IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY?
HOW MUCH SHOULD I BUDGET FOR SOFTWARE?
There are two things to remember. One is that you don't have to purchase all the software you may ever want right away: you can gradually build your system as you become more comfortable with the technology. At first, you can probably get by with just a good word processor. In fact, many attorneys are satisfied with the AppleWorks (formerly called ClarisWorks) application that comes with certain Macintosh models as their word processor of choice. (Other popular word processing choices among attorneys are: Word 98, WordPerfect for the Macintosh, Nisus, FrameMaker, RagTime, and MarinerWrite.)
The second thing to remember is that money spent on law office software isn't money that is unrecoverable. Well-chosen bits of technology can vastly improve your income and/or lifestyle. (Assuming that you bill by the task, not based on time. It would be foolish to pay a fortune for a complete collection of case-law on CD-ROM, for instance, and then continue to charge by the hour for research that then takes a fraction of the time.) Law office technology may also be a tax-deductible business expense.
One big advantage of the Macintosh for solo practitioners is that the Macintosh is easier to become proficient with, and it is easier to add new software and external devices to a Macintosh than to a PC. You can comfortably move up to more advanced solutions more quickly. For instance, attaching a scanner and becoming proficient at document imaging, archiving and retrieval/searching is much easier on the Macintosh platform. And doing these tasks on a Macintosh does not require a consultant. Since storing paper is a very significant fixed expense for attorneys, and dealing with huge numbers of documents uncovered through discovery is the single most onerous task for a solo, you can see how being able to implement this technology quickly and easily is a huge advantage.
A good personal information manager (to keep track of client contact info, appointments, deadlines and court appearances) is quite useful, though some attorneys prefer to stick to paper for this. Even better, a full-blown law office management package is a wonderful (but sometimes expensive) choice, taking care of most of what an attorney does in a day within one program. (And performing such useful tasks as conflict checking and rules-based calendaring. [i.e. Tickler functions.] Some malpractice carriers will lower your premiums if you use such a program.) However, many of the attorneys who I have spoken with seem content to use a good personal information manager.
In the past I have attempted to give personal recommendations among the listed software choices, but I have found that the great variety in the available software, coupled with the many different ways attorneys and firms practice, makes it impossible for me to continue to do this. I recommend that you talk directly with as many software developers as possible, read the descriptions of their software on their Web sites, narrow your choices down to a few packages, and then carefully evaluate their demonstration versions before making a purchase decision. Don't make a hasty choice. You will have to live with, and constantly use, the software that you choose, everyday. Nothing will hold up the productive automation of your law firm more than choosing software that does not work as effectively, easily, or as enjoyably as you hoped it would. (Ask attorneys who have attempted to use DOS-based computers on their desktops in the past!) Take your time and put demo software through all of its paces and ask the software developer as many questions about it as possible before you purchase.
The vast majority of the software developers whose products are listed in this Web site are willing to provide free demonstration versions of their software to attorneys. Most have such a version available for download from their Web site. They may also have screen-shots from the software on their Web site. (When you contact software developers, please let them know that you heard of them from this Web site. This will encourage them to assist in keeping the listings herein current.)
Other Macintosh-using attorneys would very much appreciate hearing your comments about software that you have tried. If you would like to review a piece of software for inclusion in the MacAttorney Newsletter, please send your review to:
In summary, your budget for software will depend on your practice specialty (see specific headings on this Web site) and style. Look upon the careful selection and purchase of law office software as expanding the efficiency of your practice.
Recent ABA Study on Computers
On August 8, 1997, the Legal Technology Resource Center of the American Bar Association released its survey of technology use in small law firms (1 to 20 lawyers). Here are some of the amazing results from 374 respondents:
9.4% use Macintosh
16.6% use only Windows (all versions, including Win95 and Win3.1)
and the overwhelming OS winner? ---> DOS!!!!
The Center also reported word processor usage:
Microsoft Word ?46%
(there is, apparently, some overlap.)
What's the explanation? I can only offer my own experience. Lawyers as a group are mostly technophobic, tend not to like to use advanced technology themselves (i.e. they have support staff do the computer work) and like to fully utilize an asset before replacing it (i.e. they are watching pennies and are unlikely to upgrade either hardware and software if they can avoid it.) Thus, there are many legal staff still using 386 and 486 machines (and older Macs) and running the ancient program Word Perfect for DOS. The legal field is also mostly under-computerized with regard to attorneys themselves (though not their firms). What does this all mean to you as a Macintosh-using attorney? It means that you are among a group of computer users this is not insignificant in the legal field, so software developers, bar associations, and the courts should pay attention to you. (Please consider joining the MacAttorney User Group, mentioned elsewhere on this Web site, to help make sure that the courts do pay attention to the needs of Macintosh-using attorneys.) It means that there is potential for more attorneys and firms to adopt the Macintosh as they upgrade from ancient office automation equipment. And it means that you have a significant advantage over the majority of other attorneys because you are using more modern professional tools.
HOW TO CONVINCE YOUR BOSS, PARTNER,
OR INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT TO LET YOU USE
A MACINTOSH INSTEAD OF A PC
(OR POSSIBLY SWITCH THE ENTIRE FIRM TO MACS!)
A frequent request I receive is for references to studies, testimonials, and other evidence that would serve as ammunition to help convince an attorney's firm to allow Macintoshes in. The following Web links should prove very helpful in this regard. (NOTE: This type of link becomes outdated, and hence is removed from the Web, more often than most Web addresses. I will try to provide the most up-to-date links in the MacAttorney Newsletter.)
This is the home of the famous Gartner study "Technical Support Costs and Dual-Platform Desktops: Managed Diversity." Registration required for access. (A copy of the report is also available by calling: 1-800-232-9335.) The Gartner Group concluded that there is no support cost premium associated with a company having both Macintosh and Windows computers (that is, heterogeneous computing) over being single platform (homogeneous computing).
(Summaries of Gartner study)
This site summarizes the famous Gistics "ROI (return on investment) TechBrief" 1997. This is a study of 3.8 million creative professionals in the USA. The study concluded that people who use both Mac and PC like the Mac better, and that they are more productive. The study also concludes that purchasing and using a Macintosh is more cost effective than using a PC.
Entire Gistics "Return on Investment" study. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view or print it.
Most Hugest Page o' Mac Facts
Arguably the largest list extant of substantiated statistics on the superiority of the Macintosh computer.
Excellent letter, citing several studies that say that the Mac is cheaper to maintain.
A useful, but somewhat dated, article comparing Mac v. NT for business.
Switching From a Macintosh to Windows Environment Transition Issues for Users/Groups
Here are some assessments of the dominant OS, Windows:
Windows--and Bugs--Everywhere by Cathryn Baskin, editor-in-chief, PC World
95 days with Windows 95 from FamilyPC magazine
The Death of a Thousand Stings by Robert A. Jung. A marvelous article comparing the Windows OS with the Mac OS by someone who uses both.
A New York Times article about the huge shift in Microsoft's OS strategy and the mess that it creates for users and businesses. Registration required to enter site.
The May 98 issue of Apple Wizards compares the March 98 issue of PC World with the March 98 issue of MacWorld and provides some interesting insights about what the users of PC's spend their time doing as compared to what Mac users spend their time doing.
Here is Intel's list of Pentium III (their latest processor, just introduced at press-time) bugs, 46 in all. Some of these may be fixed in the future, but the majority of which will not. (Intels own list says which one will and will not be fixed.) For a sense of deja vu, note the first bug: a floating point problem
that isnt slated to be fixed.
ftp://download.intel.nl/design/pentiumiii/specupdt/24445304.pdf (PDF File, Adobe Acrobat player required to view.)
Non-technical people are well aware of the Year 2000 problem. The Millennium bug? No problem for the Macintosh-every single Mac is Y2K compliant.
Real Mac Facts Page (Excellent!)
The MacMarines Ammo Dump. Very slanted, but still useful material on the advantages of the Macintosh over PC's.
MacAddict has a neat poster available for $15 that has a list of 50 advantages the Macintosh has over a PC. It could make a great exhibit for a presentation.
300 Reasons Why the Mac is Great by TidBITS Editors and Friends.
This article is somewhat outdated (it is from 1995) but the majority of the points are still valid.
I have received a number of reports that law office computer consultants (even those who purport to be experts with regard to the Macintosh) have been telling attorneys that there are fewer/no worthwhile/no software available for the Macintosh for use in the law office. That is either a big lie or an indication that the consultant is seriously lacking in knowledge about the current Macintosh software market. As one can see from the list contained in this Web site, there is a wealth of law office applications for the Macintosh, they are of extremely high quality (especially when compared side by side with the industry leaders on the PC, something that I hope attorneys will take the time to do) and, if you are reading this you probably already know that the Macintosh as a computing platform makes far more sense than the PC does for use by attorneys.
I should note that, in addition to the law office applications contained in this list, the tools for putting together a networked computer system for law office use, using Macintoshes, are first rate; and are mostly plug and play. Apple's latest PowerPC-based servers now come with a version of Appleshare that has been written in native code for the PowerPC processor, so these servers are very fast (obviating the attractiveness of going with a Windows NT server). Apple servers come complete with software that allows PC's to seamlessly be part of the network along with your Macintoshes (which means that if there is an application or two available only for the PC, you can put a PC on the network. You can even purchase software that will allow you to access the PC, and any such application, from your Mac over the network); that allows administration of the network from any Mac on the network or even via remote dial-up; they include RAID software; etc. In short, Apple's servers are a plug and play dream, just like other Macs are. To get more information about Apple's servers, go to this Web site:
IBM-COMPATIBLE VS. MACINTOSH;
A person's choice of computer has taken on a significance with many people that in many ways is similar to one's choice of car. If you drive a Mercedes, a Lexus, a BMW, etc. many people feel that that says something about you. So it is with your choice of computer. In fact, much more so. It has even been said that one's choice of computer is like a religious choice. People are very committed to that choice. This Webmaster thinks that this is silly, but accepts that the situation exists. I believe that you really can't go far wrong with either choice, but that choosing to use a Macintosh over an IBM-compatible is akin to choosing an Acura over a Ford Taurus. Both are fine cars, the owners of both love them, but you rarely hear of an Acura owner switching to a Taurus, while you often hear of a Taurus owner switching over to an Acura . It is the same with a Macintosh. (The interesting point in this analogy is that Acura has less than 1% of their market, yet no one is afraid to purchase an Acura for fear that they will go out of business. Apple has over 10% of the personal computer market with the Macintosh, yet you often hear people say that they are afraid to purchase a Macintosh because they are afraid that Apple will go out of business. Strange.)
Let me point out that, no matter what Apple's earnings are, they have several Billion (yes, with a "B") dollars worth of gross sales each year. Companies with sales numbers in that range don't usually go out of business. At the very worst they get purchased by another company, who would probably endow them with better management. Fortunately, as of this writing, Apple's earnings are quite good and it looks like they will continue to be, thanks to an inspired new marketing strategy and a continuous stream of releases of new and compelling products.
One big problem for Macintosh-using attorneys is that most consultants are IBM-philes. (There are not many Macintosh consultants, mainly because setting up and configuring a Macintosh tends to be easy enough that a consultant is not usually necessary.) Getting accurate information out of them about the Macintosh, even if they say that they are knowledgeable about the Macintosh, is rare. Consultants tend to recommend hardware and software that they are familiar with, and will rationalize reasons for you not to go with equipment and software that they are not comfortable with. (I also want to note here that consultants are business people. They tend to recommend hardware, not that is the easiest to use, or which is the most dependable, but which they make the most money on. In the vast majority of cases that would be no-name IBM-clones. In study after study, the Macintosh has come up the winner in ease of use, reliability, economy of support and maintenance, and resale value. Consultants generally have no concern for these things. In fact, the contrary would be to their advantage. The more problems that you have with your computer, the more money they make in consulting fees.) What can you do about this? Find out as much as you can about the Macintosh from this publication and the resources listed herein, from discussion forums on the Internet, and from Apple and their Web site. Talk to your local Macintosh retailer (such as CompUSA or ComputerWare) and see if they offer any installation and/or consulting services. Remember, even a child can install and set up a Mac. You can too.
What does the future hold for Apple? At this writing the iMac is in its third revision, and is still selling like mad. It is stylish, blazingly fast, inexpensive, requires next to no setup or maintenance, it is full-featured, and it includes both 10baseT Ethernet and the new faster 100baseT Ethernet. It includes a modem and getting on the Internet takes about 10 minutes from the time you remove the computer from the box. This computer is billed as a consumer market model, but it also embodies the best features of a network computer (dubbed "NC" by some - a basic inexpensive computer that exists mainly to interact with a server over a network or with the Internet.) Many law firms, especially those with old-technology computers in their firms, see the iMac as irresistible, especially when used in conjunction with OSX Server with its Net-Boot feature. (Net-Boot allows computers on a network to access applications on the server simultaneously and quickly, as if the applications were running locally.) I have been fielding a lot of inquiries as of late from firms interested in switching over their entire firms to a network of iMacs. Potentially a network of all-iMacs, (with the Macintosh's famous reliability and Apple's history of maintaining backward compatibility when introducing new system software), can last as long as the DOS machines that they will be replacing lasted.
FORMAT OF THIS LIST
Though there are comments that accompany most listings, these comments do not necessarily reflect the full feature set of each software package, nor do they necessarily mean that the Webmaster has personally reviewed the software package that the comments pertain to unless they so state. However this Webmaster has at least casually looked at the majority of them, and has heard from many users of these products. I reserve the right to edit, add to, or add my comments to the information that vendors provide.
While the software listed in each category is not "ranked" per se, the listings are not random either. I have made some effort to list the best-selling or most popular software packages first, in a list of software, and/or, to clump together similar software within a category. In this way you can think of the order of the listings to be more like the order of something like a states civil code. If you find that a piece of software in a section suits your needs, you might find that the software listed just prior to it, and just after it, may be of a similar character.
IS SHAREWARE LISTED ON THIS WEB SITE?
Yes! However, I don't point out which pieces of software are shareware in this Web site. The reason is because, in most cases, the distinction between demonstration software and shareware has blurred. (Shareware, for those who don't know, is software that is offered on a free "try it before you buy it" basis. Usually shareware is downloaded from the Internet directly to your computer. The downloaded software is in all ways a fully functioning copy of the product. The end user is on his or her honor to send in the payment for the software if they like it and intend to continue using it.)
Shareware developers often found that many thousands of people would download their software, and then they would ultimately receive payment for only a handful of copies. In time, shareware authors realized that "shareware" software meant "free software" to most people. So, shareware authors got smart and started including features in their software that encourage users to purchase it. For instance, as downloaded, shareware now often includes one or more of the following: an annoying splash screen that keeps the program from loading quickly, no ability to print, a limited number of tasks or records allowed, a reduced feature set, no ability to save files, or a "time-bomb" feature that disables the software after a pre-determined amount of time. Shareware programs can have these annoyances removed if you register the program by paying for it. In return for the payment, the developer will usually send you a serial number with instructions on how to enter it into the program in order to unlock it and make it a fully functioning application, or they may send you a copy of the full application.
Free demos of commercial software have most, and in some cases all, of the same characteristics. They are usually available from the Internet, they have limited abilities compared to the full version, and you have to contact the developer and pay for an unlimited version.
Accordingly, I have given up trying to make a distinction between shareware and commercial software in the listings provided on this site. All of the software listed herein is of commercial quality.
Prices and specifications of the products mentioned on this Web site are subject to change without prior notice. Please contact the developer for current pricing and specifications.
?Web site addresses and e-mail addresses tend to change over time. This site is often updated, but as this site is not a money-making proposition I cannot guaranty that updates will be done regularly. If you find that listed contact information is no longer correct, contact the Webmaster of this site for current information. If you find more recent information than what is listed on this site, please pass it on to the Webmaster.
?If you try to access a company's Web site and you get a message that the address does not exist, or an error message, that does not necessarily mean that the site does not exist or that the address you have has changed or is wrong. Try again later, or the next day. It is the nature of the Internet that Web servers go down occasionally, or that too many people trying to access a Web site at one time (especially during peak hours) will result in an error message. Don't give up right away if your attempt to access a Web site is not immediately successful.
I hope that this Web site helps you to more efficiently practice law, with less effort, and/or improves your lifestyle as a practicing attorney! I would love to hear from you with your suggestions, questions, comments, updates, etc.
Randy B. Singer, Esq.
Attorney at Law
1984 Huston Circle
Woodland, CA 95776-5775
To send e-mail to the author of this site, click here: email@example.com