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March 2002
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Mac Corner

Face It, Legal: Mac Is Dead

By Mark Voorhees

Face It, Legal: Mac Is Dead I recently received an e-mail from a reader of Mobile Lawyer, one of Law Technology News' sibling publications, demanding to know why we don't cover Apple computers more than we do.

After going through his perceptions of the virtues of Macintosh -- ease of use and networking, the ability to put together high-quality presentations quickly -- the author concluded: "I think it's time for PC people to face the facts. The Mac is simply a better machine."

Here we go again. I would have thought that by now most educated consumers would understand that in America it's not the best product that wins, but the best brand. Pepsi beats Coke in taste tests. Betamax was the alpha format in the early days of the VCR wars. And America Online is nobody's idea of the best anything. In fact, it is Robert Pittman, the chief operating officer of AOL Time Warner Inc., who has repeated the line about brands more than anybody I know.

But apparently my lawyer-correspondent hasn't yet gotten the message.

Apple Computer Inc. claims in a recent flashy print ad campaign that it owns 25 percent of the legal market. Unlikely. We don't know any legitimate source to support that claim. We called Apple to find out who they were quoting, and so far, they haven't gotten back to us.

So let me say it again. In the legal market, now and forever more, the Mac is dead. So, for that matter, is Corel Corp.'s WordPerfect. (I can already sense blood pressures rising among the reveal codes crowd.)

I don't say this with any amount of satisfaction. I myself am a recovering OS/2 addict, and I am writing this column on an Apple computer. Publishing is one of the few fields in which there are compelling reasons to use Apple computers. Law is not one of them. There are costs to working on a Macintosh and to drafting documents with WordPerfect. As a Mac user, you will have fewer practice tools at your disposal, and as a WordPerfect user, you will be at odds with your clients.

For Mac and WordPerfect heads, there are workarounds. With a modest amount of programming, you can trick off-the-shelf database and spreadsheet programs into accomplishing most of the functions of the Windows-based practice tools, like document management and litigation software. And there are conversion tools that make flip-flopping from Microsoft Corp.'s Word to WordPerfect fairly smooth.

But why bother? More specifically, why bother yakking so much about the benefits of Apple and WordPerfect?

Lawyers, who are supposedly conscious of their time, seen to have plenty of time to waste on these silly wars. The profession would be far better off if lawyers simply bothered to learn to use what they have on their desktop. And for most of them, that is a Dell or a Gateway or whatever and Word.

Lawyers send us documents all the time. They submit articles of copies of their briefs and memos. I am constantly amazed at how often lawyers still use the tab button (or, even worse, the space bar pushed five times) to start a new paragraph. They would save time and aggravation if they spent a few hours learning how "styles" work. These formatting tools automatically indent paragraphs, bold face titles and italicize case captions.

In grouping WordPerfect and Mac zealots together, I am being somewhat unfair to the Appleheads. Most Apple-loving lawyers have learned to use their computers. They are not operating from a position of ignorance.

Many WordPerfect nuts, on the other hand, simply don't want to change, even though their clients use Word, even though most of their peers use Word and even though the differences between the programs have narrowed dramatically since the Word­WordPerfect wars began.

In 2002, there is enough dangerous zealotry in the world that we don't need to be distracted by the innocuous kind. So if you want to use a Mac or WordPerfect, go ahead. Just keep it to yourself.

Mark Voorhees is technology editor of The American Lawyer, and editor of AmLaw Tech and The Mobile Lawyer.

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