I discussed the basic features and some professional office applications of the Mac computer in Mac vs. PC: What Works for the T & E Practitioner (July 11, 2007). Many new applications and new and evolved hardware items have appeared since, making application of the Mac in a law office, or other professional context, worth revisiting. Principal among these developments are the new Mac operating system, Lion OS and the creation of the now ubiquitous iPad.
The Operating System
The current Mac operating system is the Lion OS. Resources for Lion are discussed at the OSXDaily website. See Apple’s description of the advantages of the OS X Lion operating system and an example of its file viewing and organizational capabilities. One lawyer's reaction to Lion is Krabbe’s, Our experience with Lion so far (Apple Briefs, 9/6/2011). Apple's Why you'll love the Mac page reviews the benefits of the current Mac.
Little Things Still Mean a Lot – Mac Built-ins
The Leopard operating system set the bar for elegance in operating systems, and Lion continues to raise it.
Among the many small but like-able changes are the addition of gestures tracking (with a gestures capable track pad), Auto-Save and Versions that continually save whatever you are working on, eliminating data loss from application freezes and other such issues.
Resume is a feature that automatically opens an application the way it was when last closed, even opening the ﬁles you were working on. This can be disabled for apps that as to which you don't want to waste the space needed for those records, like your browser, for example.
Air Drop is a nice feature that allows you to quickly give a ﬁle to a computer on the same network without messing with a jump drive.
Multiple desktop capability, formerly called Spaces, continues to improve with Mission Control, where you can create as many as 16 different working spaces, eliminating the clutter of all of your open applications.
Launchpad is the new way to organize your Apps -- traditional ones, as well as the ones that can be purchased from the new full-featured App Store. They can be grouped together according to type or how much you use them, however you see ﬁt.
Preview, Apple's document and image previewer, now has the capability to take a picture of your signature that can be added to pdf's so you don't have to print, sign and scan documents.
You can create presentations with Keynote (an Apple program, similar to PowerPoint), which has been updated with the advent of the Lion OS. See, Rawson, Apple updates Keynote to address Lion issues (Tuaw).
Windows and the Mac
Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 allows Office files to be shared between a PC and a Mac. Documents created in Office on either Windows or a Mac are readable and editable on either platform and PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook files may be shared.
Speaking of Windows, Boot Camp furnished by Apple enables Windows to be run on a Mac, but requires separate booting and is confined to Windows 7 when running the Lion OS. See, Keitzer, OS X Lion requires Windows 7 for Boot Camp (8/2/1011, ComputerWorld). The third-party Parallels Softwareruns both operating systems simultaneously. VmWare Fusion 4 runs Windows programs on a Mac without rebooting (including OS Lion operating features). It enhances the way you experience Windows applications on a Mac and is designed to give users an even more Mac-like experience when running Windows applications.
Legal Software for the Mac and Mac Resources for Lawyers
There are numerous legal applications developed for the Mac, such as billing software (Lawstream, Billings andBrief Accounting), case management software (Daylite, see CRM for estate planning lawyers on the Mac (Integrity Marketing Solutions)) and courtroom software (VISYNC).
R. Singer, The Macintosh Software Guide for the Law Office (American Bar Association) discusses some 180 Mac-based software applications that enable lawyers to be more productive and efficient, including those useful in estate planning. Law office software for the Mac is reviewed and discussed at Randy Singer's The Law Office Software List for the Macintosh Computer website. An example of an App that could be useful for estate planners is Compartments, which is designed for maintaining an inventory of family goods. See Joshua, Mac App Store Opens Today -- With a Useful Estate Planning App? (Tax Docket, 1/7/2012).
There are many online resources geared specifically for lawyers using Macs. MacLaw Online, is an email discussion group of legal professionals using Macs in their practices. The Mac Lawyer.com provides discussions on operation of Macs. Jeffrey Krabbe’s Apple Briefs has many comments on Mac use in the law office. Mac Law Students offers interesting observations on Mac software for students and lawyers. Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog lists and discusses Sites for Mac Lawyers.
There is also a Google Group called Macs In Law Offices (requires that you apply for membership on this gateway web page).
Macsinlaw.com lists and discusses the latest events and resources for Mac-using lawyers, including a list of articles, blogs, websites and list services at Resources.
The Tablet Legal Archive contains many useful articles on the iPad as well as Mac resources for lawyers.
The Mac and Data Security
Data security is, of course, critical to professionals serving clients.
The Lion OS defends against viruses and other malicious applications, or malware. Apple discusses its security features at OS X has you covered. Although Macs are relatively resistant to viruses and spyware by the nature of their operating platform, some risk does exist. For a tabulation of antivirus software for the Mac and a discussion of threats to the Mac see 2012 Best Mac Antivirus Software Comparisons and Reviews (Top Ten Reviews) and Packer, How to Keep your Mac Safe and Secure (Top Ten Reviews).
Viruses are fought with “sandboxing” — restricting what actions programs can perform on your Mac, what ﬁles they can access and what other programs they can launch. FileVault 2 encrypts the entire drive, protecting your data with XTS-AESW 128 encryption. It can also encrypt any removable drive.
Files you download using Safari, Mail and iChat are screened to determine if they contain dangerous applications. If they do, the operating system alerts you then warns you the first time you open one. Other automatic security features include library randomization, which prevents malicious commands from ﬁnding their targets, and Execute Disable, which protects the memory in your Mac from attacks.
As to ID theft, Password Assistant locks out identity thieves who are after personal data, while built-in encryption technologies protect your private information and communications. Safari also uses anti-phishing technology to protect you from fraudulent websites. If you visit a suspicious site, Safari disables the page and displays an alert warning you about its suspect nature.
Utilizing whole disk encryption via FileVault 2 will ensure that if your computer is lost or stolen, your data will not be retrievable. For those with sensitive client data (or business data), utilizing this feature is fundamental to your business security.
The Deal With Apps
"Applications" used to be fairly sophisticated software that ran on your computer. Now "Apps" refer to the very pared down and simple programs made to work on less powerful mobile devices. They are usually not very complex concepts, very simple to use and are intended to entertain, promote or assist you with everyday needs. Because the development of Apps is in the hands of the masses, the possibilities are endless. And because they are usually so simple, they are usually very inexpensive or even free, although as the devices get more sophisticated, so do the apps.
The new App Store in Lion means that now some Apps are available for your computer as well as your iPad or iPhone. They aren't always, however, universal. Some are only for OSX (the Mac operating system). These are purchased on the App Store accessed from the dock on your Mac. Some apps are built only for IOS 5 (the mobile operating system). These are available for purchase on the mobile device or through the iTunes store on your Mac. If an App is universal, it can be purchased in all locations. It's a little confusing, but really it's just the beginning of the selection of Apps for your computer and really exciting if you’ve been wishing you could enjoy the simplicity of mobile Apps on your computer.
Many useful Apps are available for lawyers. The following websites discuss what, in their opinion, are the five top apps for iPod, iPad and iPhone: The Mac Lawyer, About.com and Hirsch, 5 Apps for the lawyer (Tuaw, 8/6/2009) The top five iPhone apps for lawyers are listed at The Lawyerist website.
Macs continue to develop in functionality and style. They may even make some professional tasks fun that had previously been a bit of a drudge.
*Brenda Kelley is a freelance photographer and filmmaker. She recently edited The Cubans, a book of photographs by Jack Combs. She also created the accompanying short film, “They Are Cuban” which accompanies the deluxe edition of the book. For more information, see http://documentaryphotographypress.com
Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Review by Donald H. Kelley -- a respected connoisseur of software and Internet resources wealth management advisors use to further their practices.
Kelley is a lawyer living in Highlands Ranch, Colo. and is of counsel to the law firm of Kelley, Scritsmier & Byrne, P.C. of North Platte, Neb. He is the co-author of Intuitive Estate Planner Software (Thomson - West 2004). He has served on the governing boards of the American Bar Association Real Property, Probate and Trust Section and the American College of Tax Counsel. He is a past regent and past chair of the Committee on Technology in the Practice of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
Trusts & Estates has asked Kelley to provide his unvarnished opinions on the tech resources available in the practice today. His columns are edited for readability only. Send feedback and suggestions for articles directly to him at [email protected].