taking a bite out of the apple
I bit the Apple in 1997. AOL took shape. 58k modems obnoxiously dialed into the Internet. A 5 1/4 inch floppy drive stored the Smith v Jones file. It was same year I began helping lawyers start and grow their practice.
Today, the legal landscape is an attorney heading to deposition armed with e- discovery stored in a cloud. Clients have global perspective, are cost-conscious and value- driven. We keep in touch with friends on iPhones, transfer music from iTunes to iPods and relax on the couch, probably with an iPad, Skyping with parents so that they can see their grandchildren. Most people already took a bite out of the Apple.
Three years ago, five Atlanta firms hired us to convert to Macs. Last year, forty- eight law firms and on pace to double it this year. We had to create a committed department for our Mac Lawyers. But it’s not just us. Sub-cultures like MILO (Macs In Law Offices) occupy significant time at the annual ABA Techshow.
Is it a fad, a temptation or is there something substantive behind the phenomena?
A billion dollar industry exists to fix Window machines that should work. Whether it’s Geek Squad or a Buckhead IT company, a significant budget is set aside for monthly tech support. Also consider the money lost in unproductive downtime every time the server or workstation goes down multiplied by hourly rates and multiplied again by number of employees.
Macs start at $599, slightly higher than the $399 Dell, but three times the life span. Neither are Macs susceptible to the same monthly break it/fix it costs due to malfunction or Trojans viruses. An effective Norton yearly subscription for all the computers can add up. Even a small firm under ten, over a twenty-year span, can spend hundreds of thousands in annual hardware costs and standard monthly maintenance.
Equally valuable and often invisible is how long it takes to produce a client or judge worthy product. Graphic artists and gamers are still the dominate the majority user. Switching between a dozen open applications happens almost instantly because of the power in their processors, memory and graphic cards. Imagine applying that same function to script a high-volume document like a Leave of Absence in fractions of a second. A predefine the script can include your brand and create a consistent experience. Every client gets proper notice, every referral thanked and every deadline or court date marked.
Firms are often handcuffed to Windows and expensive servers because of case management software. Most only use thirty percent it’s capacity. Popular products like Amicus Attorney, TimeSlips or Time Matters even require a separate server to run the applications on the workstations. The annual license fees alone are in the thousands.
MarketCircle, a company focusing on business applications for Macs, integrates case management (Daylite) and billing (Billings Pro) that competes with expensive Windows based products. Used properly, it eliminates the expensive inefficiencies taking six steps instead of two to complete a task.
Macs handle everything a law firm needs to operate, including Microsoft Office and Quickbooks. Software Parallels or VMware Fusion run a Windows environment on a Mac as though it were an application for Windows specific needs. There are also sufficient and unbiased case management/billing programs because they run off the internet.
The server is last century. Ever been stuck in GA400 traffic or a two- hour calendar call? Most Windows based firms need a server that houses files and provides VPN remote desktop connection, still often requiring a powered workstation, aside from the laptop remoting in. Too many unreliable variables in the hands of a power failure or spilled milk frying a laptop.
From a security standpoint, cloud providers like Dropbox or SpiderOak spend millions more than any law firm to encrypt its data and stay online. A lawyer leaving a client’s file with a tax return and social security number exposed while a cleaning crew came is a major liability. Or maybe it’s a Windows server with a vulnerable firewall. Ethical and legal rules require that information stay under lock and key.
With the Cloud, stay at home to work until rush hour dies. Go to deposition with e- discovery on an iPad and respond to emails on break.
it’s simple. once you go mac, you don’t go back.
I’ve run my business on them for over a decade and a 2002 iMac G4 configured as a server. If I didn’t believe it, I wouldn’t advise my clients as such. Like a client I helped make the transition, I hope to have a satellite office in St. Lucia so I can videoconference with my clients and provide the same level of service.