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Esquire | Mac is a blog by Adam Greivell, a 20+ year Mac veteran and Maryland litigation attorney. Adam practices law primarily in Hagerstown, Maryland. Macs are his weapons of choice.
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(1) It should go without saying, but, I'm a lawyer and I can't keep from saying it: This site is for informational purposes, and is not to be construed as legal advice. I can't imagine how anyone could possibly think anything here equates to legal advice, but in case you did: it doesn't. 
(2) Although I work for the above referenced law firm, this site is not affiliated in any way with that firm. This site is solely a personal endeavor. 
(3) This site has nothing to do with the magazine "Esquire" or esquire.com. Esquire is used in the title here in a purely descriptive sense invoking the traditional definition of the word as a label for an attorney.

Sunday
Jul272008

So, How You Gonna Run Yer Practice on that Fancy Macintosh Computer?

One thing every Mac-using lawyer has to ask themselves is what software they're going to use to manage their practice. Anyone who's scoured the interwebs for a solution has likely come to the same inescapable conclusion: there's simply no obvious comprehensive software solution for the Mac-using attorney (or law firm, for that matter).

In my view, at a minimum, a lawyer needs the following functions in a single software solution:

  • Client/Contact Management

  • Case/Matter Tracking and Management

  • Document Management

  • Calendaring/To Do Tracking (GTD)

  • Billing


There's a lot of great applications out there that have some potential for being used as law office management solutions. I like to see how actual lawyers are using these programs in their actual law practices. To that end, I've gathered a pretty significant cache of lawyers' writings on how they actually use these applications in their practices. I hope you find this to be a useful resource in your quest for law practice management nirvana.

Daylite

Perhaps the lawyer who's told us the most about using Daylite is Kevin Morton from A Mac Lawyer's Notebook.  He has posted excellent write-ups and screencasts about how he uses Daylite in his law practice. Check the link below for his great tutorials and reviews.

Ben Stevens, from The Mac Lawyer, has written about his use of Daylite here:

Grant Griffiths, from Home Office Lawyer, wrote about his use of Daylite here:

Kern Lewis, wrote this post at the Texas Lawyer:

Daylite looks like a pretty useful solution. Frankly, though, it is too complicated to set up for my tastes, and is not particularly well-suited for the kind of document management I'm looking for.

Billings

Billings is the companion program to Daylite that comes from the folks at MarketCircle. Billings can be used as a stand-alone billing app, without Daylite. Grant Griffiths wrote about Billings here:

Journler

Peter Summerill at MacLitigator has shared a couple of awesome posts on how he uses Journler as a Case/Document/To Do management solution.

Personally, I have to say that Journler is so far my favorite solution, but it's too buggy to be extremely useful for me right now. All in all, though, it's a superb application.

So you know, the folks behind Journler are working to bring you another program with great promise called Lex. Lex is supposed to be a project based document management solution. I am definitely holding my breath for this one. There's no word, yet, on when this might be released. You can find information about Lex at the Journler Community Forums.

OmniFocus

When it comes to GTD, it looks like the recently released OmniFocus has captured a lot of attention. Jeffrey Kabbe, of Apple Briefs, reviews OmniFocus here:

Victor Medina, of the Small Business and Solo Law Practice Blog, reviewed OmniFocus here:

Things

Things is another GTD-type app that Jeffrey Kabbe reviewed here:

Things is not yet complete, and is slated for release in the Summer of 2008 (hey, that's, like, now!). You can download a beta "preview" version for free.

FileMaker and AppleScript

If you're really advanced, or have a bunch of money, you might want to look at FileMaker. Larry Stanton, from Scripting for Lawyers has written extensively about his use of FileMaker here:

Bento

Bento is brought to you by the makers of FileMaker, and is a simpler-to-use, more lightweight data manager that has some promise for managing a law practice. Jeffrey Kabbe reviewed Bento here:

Circus Ponies Notebook

Notebook can be a good application to manage your documents, notes and to do's for individual cases, one at a time. Ben Stevens and Grant Griffiths have written about their use of Notebook here:

EasyTime

EasyTime is an application developed by some lawyers who were tired of not having a good practice management solution geared toward lawyers. They've made a decent beginning, but it's not a complete solution at present. Ben Stevens and Grant Griffiths have written about EasyTime here:

Rocket Matter

RocketMatter is a new-to-the scene web-based solution that seems to handle about everything but Document Management. Rocket Matter was created for lawyers, so it is pretty well tailored to the relevant tasks. Ben Stevens, Aaron Pelley (of Criminal Defense Law With An Apple), and Finis Price (of TechnoEsq) have written about Rocket Matter here, respectively:

Basecamp and Highrise


There are other web-based solutions that have seen some use from lawyers, such as Basecamp and HIghrise from 37Signals. Ben Stevens and Grant Griffiths have written about using Basecamp here:

Other Resources

For even more Mac business software solutions, check out Ben Steven's post here:

Conclusion

I'm still searching for the best solution for our firm. For now, it's the Finder, iCal, Google Calendar and Address Book. It gets the job done, but I'm dying for a simple-to-use, simple-to-setup, comprehensive solution. In my opinion, nobody's made that product yet.
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    Esquire | Mac - Macs. Lawyers. Simple. - So, How You Gonna Run Yer Practice on that Fancy Macintosh Computer?
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    Esquire | Mac - Macs. Lawyers. Simple. - So, How You Gonna Run Yer Practice on that Fancy Macintosh Computer?
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    Esquire | Mac - Macs. Lawyers. Simple. - So, How You Gonna Run Yer Practice on that Fancy Macintosh Computer?
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Reader Comments (7)

The only category I would add is document management. Unfortunately the law business is one which places great emphasis on preserving the past in the form of The Sacred File.

On the Windows platform there is the utterly fabulous www.worldox.com but as far as I can tell there is no equivalent on the Mac side. Equivalent = cost effective, simple, dead stable.

The bigger problem I see so far is that software for law firms (such as the ones you've described) on the Mac are not -- bluntly -- enterprise-worthy. Law firms are a business. The tools should be appropriate to the task, not cobbled-together bits of this and that. And unfortunately that's what I see on the Mac side of the equation.

Disclosure: I'm switching our law firm over to Macs anyway. :-)

July 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Hodgen

wow! useful list of all Mac based tools! As a Mac user it sort of helps...

I can tell you what we use.. we aren't a law firm. We do new media marketing and graphics and the like and we have about 14 of us.. So for team based collaboration and project collaboration we use http://www.deskaway.com/" rel="nofollow"> Deskaway - the interface is neat, it has milestones, tasks, issues, tracking, advanced analytics with reports. It also has a sharing section and a section in which you can write notes.

The best thing i like about it is that it is Web - Based - so its OS agnostic which is great. It's also scalable.

The other good thing about it is the reminder mechanism - it has email alerts and reminders (no matter what others say about the 'social media revolution' - i still believe that email is the center of the web 2.0 universe)

Then the other thing i like is an ability to replicate processes - so i create a process for 1 client and then if another similar client comes along i have the ability to recreate that process through templates and make minor changes.

We also often give our clients log - ins - we just started with that. This is possible because it's web based. And we can control what the client sees et al. So it often adds a dimension of professionalism to the service which clients appreciate.

And we pay about $200 a year for managing upto 35 clients a month. So i think it's neat!

anyway - that's just how we use it - and my thoughts. Maybe something else works better for you!

July 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHarshil Karia

Hey Adam,

I'm curious as to what kind of bugs you are running into with Journler? We've been testing it, and so far it has performed well.

Thanks,

Tim

August 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTim Arruda

Hey Tim,

I have problems importing Word documents, period, as well as importing Word Documents into smart folders. When I drag a Word document, whether alone or together with other documents, instead of creating an entry that links to the Word doc, it imports the text of the doc into the entry window, and leaves it live and editable. I don't want to be able to change the text in the entry, and it does not allow for any notification that the text has changed, so it could be changed accidentally, and it's possible you could rely on what's in the entry window to tell you what's in the Word doc itself, and you'd be wrong.

When importing Word documents into smart folders, sometimes (about 95%) but not all times, the entries will gain phantom, empty tag fields and insert phantom empty characters in the Categories field. The entries, once viewed, no longer show up under the appropriate smart folder. This problem persists even after you manually delete the phantom tags and characters. For some reason, the entries just won't show up under the smart folders even though all of the requisite characteristics are present.

These problems are known to the developer and have been for months. I don't know if he plans on fixing those bugs for the 2.6 release, but they have pretty much stopped me from using the program at all.

Journler is a program I want to use, but I just can't get past those bugs. They are big time wasters for me, and I need a program that saves me time and makes my life simpler, not the opposite. It is such a great program in so many other respects. If they fix those bugs, I'll probably jump on board right away.

August 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEsquireMac

Congrats on the new blog. Looks great. On the doc managment issue with DL, I've been working with that the last month or so. It's got some real power beneath the hood although it needs some small but significant engineering tweaks to the built-in editor to make it really sing. Right now, formatting, page numbering, headers/footers all need work. But simple merges are no problem.

I've been able to create merge docs that pull data from everywhere and actually get some work done. For example, using merge keys and Pages, we've created a single Pages template that prints all the docs (10+) a client signs when we sign up a new case. Faster to create and print than in Timematters. I'm very happy about that. And we have a bunch of built-in editor merge templates. All work flawlessly.

I'll be posting more about that on my blog late this month or early next month. Just too much to do to devote much time to it.

Cheers.

August 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Morton

Thanks Adam...

That would explain the difference in our experience. At this point we're almost exclusively importing single pages of a pdf, and haven't had any issues. I can certainly see why it's not working for you and we sure wouldn't be using it either if we were having those issues.

Tim

August 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTim Arruda

Helpful info for fellow "mac lawyers." Thanks! I too have been searching for that elusive case management software for a small mac based firm. Currently I run a hodge podge that relies heavily on Entourage for document management / calendaring / e-mail; Quick Books for accounting and a new addition OfficeTime for time tracking / quick invoicing (I have quickbooks premier professional services edition which is really the only program running on the one remaining PC in my office, but QB doesn't play nicely with anything else and is too cumbersome to track time efficiently).

I can't say enough about the OfficeTime product - a really, really great program for a whopping $49 or so. I'd encourage any solo to check it out. Unfortunately, it does nothing for project / document management which is a big issue for us litigators. Will check back to see when your blog announces the latest greatest practice management for macs (or at least a good document manager!)

June 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMD atty

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