This article will be published in the Cleveland Bar Association May edition magazine.
In 2011, I received a call from Subodh Chandra, founder and managing partner of The Chandra Law Firm LLC. He wanted to switch the firm over to Macs from PCs. At that point I had been supporting attorneys nationwide with their Mac needs, and it just so happened that I was working right in his backyard. Migrating the firm’s data and implementing the change-over took some work, and we ran into some challenges along the way, but we made it happen. He’s never looked back.
Back in 2011, the barrier for attorneys wanting to use Macs in their practice was significant. While Rocket Matter and Clio both launched in 2008 as the first web-based case management solutions, they were still emerging businesses, and the cloud had not yet come into its own. To go all Mac, firms had to customize generic Mac software to fit the specific needs of their law practice. The best Mac native options were Daylite and Billings Pro. Eight years ago, the number of Mac-using attorneys was much lower than today, and the transition was much harder. And in the end, it was usually the die-hard Mac users who made the leap.
Fast forward to a January 2019. I was recently having a discussion with Julius Trombetto, the Director of Innovation at Rolf Goffman Martin Lang LLC, which is a law firm representing long-term care, post-acute, and senior living providers based out of Cleveland. The firm has a combined staff of 30, and while they are not on Macs yet, they are now offering everyone the option of choosing a Mac. Five years ago, it would have been tough to even make such an offer at an established firm with a team that size.
Aric Martin, Rolf Goffman Martin Lang LLC’s managing partner, made the conscious decision to embrace technology. Over the past few years, they have migrated their software solutions to the cloud. Everything they need is now accessible via a Mac or PC, giving users the ability to choose whatever platform they like best.
“Most of the software nowadays is in the browser or Microsoft Office. Hence, you can use the computer you are most comfortable with,” said Jin-Ho Lee, a partner at Milligan Rona Duran & King LLC in Boston. The firm of six attorneys made the switch to Macs in 2015. “If you’re already a Mac user, using it for your work only makes sense. This takes away the barrier to productivity.” Why use an operating system you don’t enjoy? For many Mac users, being forced to work on a Windows computer is detrimental to their productivity.
Can you relate to the Mac-curious, Windows-using Attorney?
A decade ago, there were plenty of valid reasons for law firms not to switch to Macs. Part of the challenge of making the switch today is that many law firms still believe that there are more obstacles than benefits. But thanks to the omnipresence of the cloud and improvements in software, it is now easier than ever to make the switch.
First off, let’s clear something up: You wouldn’t be the only one. A common concern is that no other firms are using Macs. But as it turns out, a phenomenon often referred to as the Halo effect has helped the spread of Macs into law firms. This occurs when someone uses an iPad or iPhone in their personal lives, likes the experience, and buys another Apple product. In time, they consider using Macs in their practice, often because they are so easy to use and reliable.
According to the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center’s 2018 Legal Technology Survey Report, 72% of attorneys use an iPhone. And out of attorneys that are using tablets, 77% of those are iPads.
Owning a Mac at home, whether it’s your own computer or your kids’, contributes to the Halo effect. In addition to having Macs at home, Apple’s focus on education has increased the adoption of Macs among law students.
This effect can be seen in the BAR exam. One of our team members at GlobalMac IT works as a proctor a few times a year, providing tech support during the exam. He’s gotten into the habit of counting Macs users in the exam room during downtime. Based upon his observations, he’s concluded that the percentage of Mac users (while taking the BAR) ranges from as low as 50% to as high as 64%.
Combined, these factors continue to increase the adoption of Macs in law.
So how many attorneys actually use Macs? According to the 2018 Legal Technology Survey Report, 14% of solo attorneys reported using Mac OS as their primary operating system, as did 9% of the firms with 2-to-9 lawyers on staff. You are not alone.
Check back on the GlobalMac IT blog for upcoming posts about the benefits and downsides of switching to Macs. Learn some valuable insights from my interviews of attorneys and firm administrators. We discuss why they made the switch, the issues they may have encountered, and how they made the jump.
CEO, GlobalMac IT