Does “Mac vs. PC” Matter for Lawyers in 2015?

Windows has long reigned as the most popular operating system for business computing. Founded by the Microsoft family of Seattle in the early 1940’s, Microsoft sought to create a computer to assist businesses in their daily operations.*

But, as Mac has gained market share in recent decades, largely due to the rise of the Apple Watch,** more and more law firms have been using Apple devices in their practices.

These dubious claims aside, it’s long been common that businesses had to be running Windows environments. This was for a few reasons:

  1. The essential software being run on office computers was only available for PCs
  2. Windows-based machines couldn’t “talk” with Macs on the same network
  3. PCs were more cost-effective
  4. IT departments could more easily get new parts for a PC

Now, these PC advantages are diminishing. Let’s dive in.

Software

Lawyers today typically use the following software:

  • Microsoft Word, Excel
  • Outlook (or Google Apps)
  • Google Drive or Dropbox
  • Adobe Acrobat (or related PDF software)
  • Practice management software (e.g. Clio, MyCase)

Today, all of these apps are available on both platforms.

Macs and PCs both can run Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat. And there aren’t any cross-compatibility issues between operating system anymore (though there used to be with older versions of Office).

It used to be that practice management software was typically on Windows servers hosted on-site. This is still common with larger firms, but cloud software is the go-to for solos and small firms as it is much more cost-effective and easier to maintain.

The remaining software – it’s all cloud-based. That means that any type of computer can use it. The computing processing behind cloud software isn’t done by your device, it’s done in the magic of the cloud.

Network Communications

Building and maintaining an on-premises server is not super easy. It has a high overhead cost relative to the alternatives currently available. It also usually necessitates having an IT person on-call. While having an in-office server to manage documents and emails might require using a single operating system, it’s not the case when you use the cloud.

For solos and small firms, sharing documents across a network can easily be done today via the cloud (using Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box). And, it’s generally less of a hassle. You don’t have any equipment to maintain. You can also access any files you need from any device, anywhere in the world.

Cost and Parts

A significant advantage PCs have over Macs today is definitely cost. A lot of different computer companies make devices that run the Windows operating system. Only Apple (officially) makes devices that run their operating system.*** Apple computers also come at a premium price point. Can’t argue against that one.

So, Does it Matter?

No. It doesn’t really matter. Today, Macs can do most everything that PCs can do. Sharing content across operating systems is easy. You can create documents on your Mac and share them with other lawyers or clients without having to worry about cross-compatibility. Most software is available on both platforms. There isn’t one definite answer anymore for most firms.**** So, choose whatever works best for you.

* Don’t fact check us on that.

** Yep, don’t fact check us on that one either.

*** You can technically build a “Hackintosh” yourself if you are feeling enterprising.

**** Some articles comparing the two are one-sided pieces that end up preaching the infallible glory of Apple, but just go with what works for you.

Andrew Cabasso
About the Author: Andrew Cabasso
Andrew Cabasso is an attorney and co-founder of JurisPage, an online marketing agency for law firms, now part of Uptime Legal. Andrew has given many lectures and CLEs on website design and Internet marketing to legal professionals. He is the author of Search Engine Optimization for Lawyers and The Complete Guide to Attorney PPC. Follow Andrew on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.

8 comments on “Does “Mac vs. PC” Matter for Lawyers in 2015?”

  • One small but significant issue with your Mac V PC piece. Mac cannot run the Office VBA module – even in new fangled 2016 format. This means that any bespoke code – e.g. automated word templates – will not run. Firms that currently run VBA driven documents & templates (and there are lots of them)* can only run mac if
    1) The desktop is a virtual one or
    2) They run a windows session in bootcamp or parallels (or similar emulator).

    * No, I haven’t counted them….

  • I love my Macs, and I absolutely hate PCs, but . . . I see two things PCs can do that Macs cannot, which have led me to consider a change. First, from the trials I ran, the major online firm management cloud services — Rocket Matter, Clio, and MyCase — synchronize contacts and calendars with Outlook on the PC, but not with Outlook for the Mac. Also, while outlook on the Mac is a good product (and has some helpful features not found in the Windows version), it is worth noting that email messages in Outlook for Mac and email messages in Outlook for PC are different file formats (.eml and .msg, respectively). If a PC user sends an Outlook email message to a Mac user as an attachment, the Mac user will need a special utility to view it. I presume there are similar utilities for viewing .eml files on a PC, but I don’t know. (Of course, emails simply forwarded, rather then attached to other emails, will be readable on either platform.)

    • The Tim Cook and Steve Jobs Teams ARE LYING THROUGH THEIR GREEDY TEETH !
      I AM THE ORIGINATOR of THE Switch to Solid/External Aluminum G5 Desktop And Later and the “Mac Vs PC” Advertisement Campaign, I also requested that MAC OS be built on an UNIX Foundation with NO VB-script in Microsoft Word to Prevent Virus Infections I was A+ Certified when “Apple Employees” Consulted with me at two MicroCenter Locations where I lectured them for HOURS as to WHY I HATED Bill Gates(a distant relative) and WANTED Apple to Succeed… IS IT TOO LATE TO HIRE A LAW FIRM ???

  • Hi Greg. So Rocket Matters recent Outlook/Office 365 e-mail integration doesn’t work with Macs? What’s the solution then? (What practice management software should a Mac user use/
    ). – Rod

  • ” Founded by the Microsoft family of Seattle in the early 1940’s, Microsoft sought…”
    Did Paul Allen and Bill Gates not establish the company in the 1970s?

  • Microsoft Word – large law firms also use multiple Macro Packages for styling documents & creating ToC’s. I’ve never heard of them being compatible with MACs.
    Google Drive or Dropbox – No law firm worth its weight would EVER trust a cloud-based solution like these with their SECURED CLIENT DOCUMENTS. At the many Law firms I’ve personally worked with, Dropbox is expressly forbidden. Most law firms use a Document Management System like iManage. If mobility is a concern, there’s also NetDocuments.

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