time to time, Macintosh devotees ask that I write about Macs. Since, to the best of my
recollection, I have not done so during the past five years, granting their request only
First, a bit of background. A decade ago, I joined the
Apple Con-sultant Relations program. Apple had limited presence in law firms, but the Mac
operating system was so much better than Microsofts offerings that it seemed Apple
had a real opportunity to gain market share.
Regrettably, Apple failed to seize that opportunity. The company
stopped focusing on law firms and the commercial market, generally. I could no longer
justify the time and energy needed to keep up with Apple, so I dropped out of ACR.
Even in its core markets graphics and education Apple
was withering before the Microsoft-Intel juggernaut. Two years ago, Apples ability
to continue as an independent company was in question.
Then Steve Jobs returned to save Apple from imminent death. Although
the companys share of the PC market is modest, Apple is profitable and has resumed
developing innovative products.
For lawyers considering Macs, the key issue is application software.
If you just need word processing, spreadsheets, e-mail and web access, there are plenty of
programs most notably, Microsofts from which to choose.
On the other hand, if you also require legal-specific software, you
need to do some research. Two websites will help you figure out how well the Mac can meet
The ABAs Apple/Macintosh Interest Group (http://www.abanet.
org/lpm/mac/home.html) provides links to web resources and a 170-page
guide to Mac software for the law office.
The Law Office Software List for the Macintosh Computer (http://www.
macattorney.com/) offers detailed information about Mac software for
law offices. In addition, you can subscribe to the free MacAttorney electronic newsletter
and find information about Apples initiatives in the legal market.
Within the legal community, Macs are used almost exclusively by solos
and small firms. For reasons that concern risk aversion and decision-making processes as
much as technology, few firms with more than a handful of attorneys use Macs.
This turns out to be reasonably good news for Apple. With most
lawyers practicing solo or in small firms, and with the Macs currently modest
penetration even among this group, Apple has a chance to increase its market share
substantially. Its major challenge will be to find partners working with the legal community who can persuade lawyers
that the Mac offers superior value.
A spelling lesson
Finally, a note to the orthographically compulsive: Macintosh
A mackintosh (or macintosh) is a waterproof outer garment invented by Charles Macintosh (1766-1843). A brilliant-red
apple is a McIntosh.
Perhaps this point illustrates why the Mac is so much more popular
with creative professionals than with lawyers. Only a lawyer would worry about whether
Apple should call its computer a Macintosh or a McIntosh. Creative types just want to use
it because they like it.
Dana Shultz is an
Oakland-based attorney and certified management consultant specializing in computer
technology and the internet. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on the Web at www.ds-a.com.