Criminal Defense Law With an Apple: Seven Reasons to Switch to an Apple
Don’t worry. I am not the smug kid from the Mac commercial trying to tell you that your Windows computer is not cool enough. For attorneys, a computer is a tool, not an accessory. But there are some good reasons to switch to a Mac. In this article I hope to tell you why it works for my practice and persuade you to take a look at an Apple for your practice.
First a short caveat: I was practically born with a PC on my desk. My father worked for IBM when I was a kid. We owned one of the first personal computers. I have lived through each version of Windows. I remember loading DOS onto my PC Jr. with floppy disks. I have continued to work with PCs throughout my adult life and work with Windows computers to this day. But despite all this, I ended up using Apple computers for my law office. Here is a list of the reasons I think you should consider switching tools.
First and foremost, an Apple computer is simple to use. The saying for Apple software and their computers is, “It just works.” And it does. This is not to say that there is not a learning curve. There is, but nothing you can not handle. The good news is that everything on an Apple was made for an Apple. The same company that made the hardware made the operating system and much of the software, and thus they work together seamlessly.
If you have iTunes on your PC, you already understand much of how the Apple user interface works. The premise of Apple products is almost militant utilitarianism. This is the Apple aesthetic and makes new users easy converts and long-time users grateful. The trick is to understand that although it looks simple and acts intuitive, all the features you would expect in a given program are there, under the hood.
How much time do you spend running virus scans, Trojan scans, spyware, adware, and firewall programs? Do you regularly defrag? How many pop-up windows do you click a day telling your computer it can do what you told it to do? Ever had your email client turned into a zombie base from an Outlook virus? Eesh. There are entire industries built on these “problems,” volumes of articles written on how to deal with these “problems.” Not to mention, the thousands of hours wasted or lost and millions of dollars spent to either solve or prevent these “problems.”
I won’t tell you don’t need to protect your Mac. Anything connected to the Internet has a chance of being compromised. But there are more than 114,000 viruses for the PC. How many known viruses are there for a Mac? The answer is zero. Bonus: Firewall is built-in and works behind the scenes (without those annoying pop–up windows). In the end, this is what makes the Apple such an attractive choice for the solo crim-lawyer. We should spend our time using a computer, not maintaining it.
Finally, there are the time saving features of Spotlight. Now Spotlight has been emulated in Vista, so, presuming you went to Vista and stayed, you can enjoy a similar, albeit less elegant, version of Spotlight. If not, this built-in indexing system should be your first and best friend. You just start typing in the name of the document you are looking for. Before you have even finished typing, Spotlight is already finding everything within your search criteria. It is like having Uber-Google for everything that resides on your computer.
Yes, I know, an Apple computer costs more straight off the shelf, but there are certain considerations you need to make. If you were to custom build the same computer with the same quality components and provide similar software, the price would be very close. It would still be a bit more expensive to buy an Apple—we pay a premium for our logo (and you do too, if you bought a Sony Vaio). I would posit, as you read on, it is worth it. That said, these computers are on the bleeding edge of technology and are built with high–end components that will last twice as long as most straight off the shelf preconfigured PCs. Often every file for our firm is on the computers we use. I often see attorneys using cheap PCs. With so much at stake, why risk using cheap computers?
With our small numbers comes an incredibly supportive community. I believe as our numbers grow, this will only get better. At any given point, if I run into a problem, I can call upon either (or both) of the listserves for Mac-Lawyers: Mac In the Law Office http://groups.google.com/group/milogroup or Mac Users Law Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MacLaw/ and ask for sage advice from the lawyers who use Macintosh to run their law offices. Answers often come back within the hour. Often the developers of the products are on the listserve and will answer you directly. The listserves are also a great resource for just following the day–to–day developments for all things Apple and law. If you are thinking of making a purchase of software or hardware, you will find honest answers here.
The front-running program for running the law office is Daylite http://www.marketcircle.com/daylite/. This program has a special template that was built just for lawyers that has integrated billing software. In addition, there has been a lot of bloggers that have been giving a nod to Rocket Matter. This is a web-based practice manager and can be used by either Mac or PC users. I think the popularity of this program among Mac users is based largely around the design of this product, which is very Apple-like.
Most other programs on a PC, you will find on a Mac. Quickbooks, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Office: Word, Outlook (called Entourage), Power Point, and Excel, all have native support on a Mac. In addition, there is the ability to run emulation software so that you can run any Windows program that you might still be attached to. Of course, over time you will let go.
True story: I purchased a Macbook and then 10 days later they came out with the Macbook Pro. I called the Apple store and they let me bring the computer in for an exchange (return policy is good for 14 days). Cool right? Well, it gets better. I went in to the Apple store to point out that the power supply cord had started to fray. An Apple store employee replaced my cord on the spot. Then I had an issue when I did a restart while my Mac was updating its firmware. So every time I turn on the computer I get this irrelevant pop-up window. So I just go to the Mac store and have them fix it. I have Apple Care service covering my computer for three years. Where are you taking your PC computer when Windows is not working? Is there a Microsoft store rep that will help fix the problem? Do you think you could even talk to any human from Microsoft? The people who sold me my computer are the people that make my operating system. They know how it works and how to fix it.
People always point out that an Apple computer is for “creative types.” I am not sure if I know what that means. Nevertheless, as criminal defense lawyer Mark Bennett pointed out to me, criminal defense is the most creative endeavor one could pursue. For that reason, perhaps we are just the type of person a Mac was made for.
I close with this: at least consider making your next home computer or laptop an Apple. Go to an Apple store and try using an Apple computer. See what you think. I bet within a few months you will be trying to figure out why you did not switch your office over sooner.
Aaron A. Pelley is Senior Attorney at Pelley Law Group, PLLC, and author of the blog Criminal Defense Law With An Apple: www.lawwithanapple.com.
© Copyright 2008, American Bar Association.