Resources for the Macintosh Lawyer
By Robert J. Ambrogi
"IN THE LEGAL MARKET, now and forever more, the Mac is dead." So wrote my American Lawyer Media colleague Mark Voorhees last month in Law Technology News, eliciting a virtual maelstrom of angry e-mail accusing him of being, among other things, ignorant, silly and a zealot.
Images courtesy of Apple Computer Inc.
There's spirited debate over just how many lawyers are using Macs with Apple itself putting the number at 25 percent even as another Mac-users' site concedes, "Only a very small percentage of the legal community is currently using a Macintosh as their computer of choice."
Whatever the number, dead it is not or so a survey of Web sites for the Mac-using lawyer would suggest. A handful of Web sites provide life support for lawyers who love Macs, listing Macintosh software for the law office, helping troubleshoot and configure hardware, and providing general tips and advice. So just what does the Web offer the Mac-using lawyer?
Since 1996, the best place on the Web for lawyers to find Macintosh resources has been The Law Office Software List for the Macintosh Computer, macattorney.com. It is maintained by Randy Singer, a lawyer in Woodland, Calif. Singer knows his Macs. He is a co-author of several editions of The Macintosh Bible, the world's best-selling book about the Macintosh computer, and more recently of the American Bar Association book, The Macintosh Software Guide for the Law Office.
The site lists more than 170 software applications written specifically for law office use on Macintosh computers. Although Singer has not updated the site in two years, he provides updates via e-mail through his free MacAttorney Newsletter. He estimates that, between software listed on his site and the additions he has discussed in his newsletter, he has reported on more than 400 Mac applications for law office use.
You can sign up for the newsletter at his site, and then browse the nearly two-dozen categories of software. They include applications for tracking time and billing, managing documents or cases, creating forms, calculating child support, planning an estate, collecting debts, and many other uses.
Another site devoted to lawyers who use Macs is MacLaw, maclaw.org. First and foremost, MacLaw is an e-mail discussion group of lawyers and legal professionals from around the world who use Macintosh computers. They use the discussion list to share ideas and tips on software, hardware and general issues of law practice management.
Consider the Web site their clubhouse. Here they publish the rules of the list and explain how to subscribe, post information about members and photographs of get-togethers, set out their structure of governance, provide access to the list's archives, and share downloadable documents and tools. Among the member-developed Macintosh programs available here are a bankruptcy case manager and a deposition analyzer.
To get right to the core of Mac applications for the law office, go to Apple itself, which has created a Web resource exclusively for lawyers, Apple Law Office Technology. Apple offers articles on technology tools for lawyers, real-life stories of lawyers using Macs, editorials and news stories relating to lawyers' uses of Macintosh computers, and guides to resources, seminars and events for lawyers who use Macs.
Features of the site include reviews suggesting the best hardware and software for the law office and discussing specialized applications for litigators. Case studies tell how a Texas lawyer uses Apple technology to make courtroom presentations, how Maine's judicial department uses Apples to keep up with the business of the court, and how the American Corporate Counsel Association uses Apples to provide services to its members.
A lawyer who uses Macs in his own practice is Toronto solo Peter Cusimano. To help others such as himself, he maintains Cusimano's Directory of Legal Products for Apple Macintosh Computers, an annotated listing of software and legal research tools. Cusimano lists Mac-specific products for time and billing, practice management, family practice, litigation, real estate, trusts and estates, and other areas, with links to the product's Web site.
For a practical and in-depth look at how one Washington, D.C., law firm uses Macs, see the article, "Macintosh Computers in a Law Firm," written by David Weikert, former system administrator for the firm Blumenfeld & Cohen. The article was originally published in the May/June 2001 Washington Apple Pi Journal, a periodical for D.C.-area Apple users. It offers a detailed look at the firm's technology, discussing its hardware, software, networking, servers, research tools and physical layout. It includes photographs and screen shots. It even touches on how the design of Apple technology complements the office's overall style and design.
Law Office Computing has compiled reviews of Macintosh software and hardware onto a section of its Web site.
LexisOne, the legal research portal from Lexis-Nexis, also has a section of its own devoted to Apple and Macintosh legal resources. But do not waste your time visiting it, because it consists solely of two links, one to Apple's Law Office Technology page and another to a defunct ABA Mac-user page.
The American Bar Association's Law Practice Management section has a page devoted to "Best Practices: Macintosh Legal Technology". All you will find there is a small collection of generic Macintosh links, none having to do with Macs in the law office. The LPM used to maintain a Web page for the Macintosh Computer Special Interest Group, which, although no longer kept up, can still be found online. It has a larger collection of links, many now broken, and a couple of older articles, including the 1997 piece, "Confessions of a Mac Attorney," by Brad Handler.
Robert J. Ambrogi is author of the book, The Essential Guide to the Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web, available at lawcatalog.com. He is editorial director of the National Law Journal.