Why Solo Attorneys Should Buy a Mac

Given my role as tech writer for Lawyerist, I tend to throw in comments related to why I prefer using Macs. Frankly, I even wrote a post last year, why every lawyer should use a mac.

If you are solo attorney looking for a new computer, here is a big reason why should consider purchasing a Mac: durability.

Six years later: still running strong

I still use two Macs that are six years old: a 2006 iMac, and 2006 MacBook Pro. Admittedly, they are not as fast as a new Mac, but they both run smoothly and without any issues. Frankly, the only real gripe I have with either one is that the MacBook Pro’s hard drive seems too small. (As a side note, setting up file encryption on a Mac is incredibly easy.)

In addition, I have been using both of these computers on a regular basis for six years now. That is a lot of wear and tear, especially for a laptop that gets lugged around. I have never had to replace any hardware on either machine, and I’ve only had one major issue with the MacBook Pro, which was a fragmentation issue—easily fixed by backing up the drive and reinstalling the operating system.

I’m not the only one though. Whenever I go to a CLE or conference, I’m on the lookout for other Mac users (like I said, I’m a fanboy). There are definitely some attorneys rocking Macs that are even older than mine. Getting six years out of a computer is a pretty good bargain, getting more than six years is like hitting the jackpot.

The higher cost should even out over time

There are some companies that make great computers that run Windows. At the same time, I do not know anyone who uses a non-Mac that is more than three, or maybe four years old. I would also guess that those computers are sputtering towards the end of their lives—buying a replacement will become a necessity, not a luxury.

Frankly, sometimes I find myself hoping one of my 2006 Macs will start to die a slow death, because I’d love an excuse to buy a new one. I’ve been thinking that for over two years now, with no luck.

Macs tend to be a bit pricier than the competition. But if you consider that they tend to last longer (in my humble opinion), they may actually be cheaper.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/apricot13/4664977460)

  • http://www.ashevilletechnologyservices.com/ Dan

    I may be opening myself up to a major flaming, but I’m surprised the content of this article focuses on Mac durability. I was expecting to read about increased security, lack of fragmentation, etc. Mac computers are assembled and sold by Apple, but still contain hard drives, memory, graphics cards, processors and even screens that are all created and manufactured by many of the same companies that make Dell, HP, or other Windows laptops; Samsung, Hitachi, Intel, etc. for example. Each part of the computer is no less prone to failure than its Windows counterpart. Now, tell us of increased security and reliability of an Apple only piece of hardware and you may have a better argument. IMHO of course.

    • Steven Appelget

      The cases of MacBook Pros are awfully tough. Even the plastic cases of the plain MacBooks are tough.

      • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

        I agree that the Macbook Pro cases are pretty durable, but I would put the magnesium chassis of a ThinkPad up against it, any day. I’ve tossed my ThinkPad across the room (accidentally) and it hardly got a scratch. In fact, my wife (a Mac user) won’t let me buy anything besides ThinkPads. She says I’m too clumsy for anything less.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/randallryder/ Randall Ryder

      I had no idea Macs included the same/similar components, I find that really surprising, given that other brands seem to go kaput before Macs do (based on my non-scientific observations).

      As for security and reliability, do you think that is distinct from durability?

  • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

    When comparing the durability of a Mac to a Windows PC, it’s important to compare similar-quality computers. I often wonder whether people who swear their PCs fall apart are getting the $500 Best Buy specials and comparing them to a $1,200 Macbook Pro.

    My ThinkPads have lasted as long as I wanted them to. I usually move on after about four years just to get the updated features of a newer computer.

  • http://www.trial-technology.blogspot.com Ted Brooks

    I am a PC, iPad, and Android. I am no fanboy. My career is very computer-dependent. I also have several PC’s that are nearly 10 years old. Although they certainly aren’t as fast as my new multi-core processor laptops, they can still do what they need to do – the same situation as you’ve noted when you say yours are “not as fast as a new Mac.” In much of my work, I need all the horsepower as I can get. My current laptop specs are here:
    http://trial-technology.blogspot.com/2010/10/top-ten-trial-presentation-laptop-specs.html

    I think you’ll find that most anyone who wants to stick with their older computer can do so. You can choose to tolerate the lack of performance, if desired – regardless of which brand of computer you prefer. The reasons people upgrade vary, but with increased performance, lower prices and new software releases, it becomes an easier decision to make.

    “I do not know anyone who uses a non-Mac that is more than three, or maybe four years old.” Well, now you know of at least one. I also know lots of others. Perhaps you’re only asking other fanboys?

    “I find myself hoping one of my 2006 Macs will start to die a slow death, because I’d love an excuse to buy a new one.” Again, the choice is yours. Regardless of which platform you prefer, physical death of a computer (which can be repaired) is not the only reason to upgrade.

    “Macs tend to be a bit pricier than the competition. But if you consider that they tend to last longer (in my humble opinion), they may actually be cheaper.” If you can get 6 years out of your Macs, and if every PC dies after 3 or 4 years, you’re probably right. I don’t agree with this assumption, however.

    There are several reasons someone chooses Mac over PC (or vice-versa), including software requirements, standardization, compatibility with others in the same profession, etc. One is not dramatically superior to the other. They’re like apples & oranges (well, maybe not the best analogy here). They’re both good for you, but they’re just different.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/randallryder/ Randall Ryder

      You deserve a medal for running a computer more than 10 years old (Mac or PC). As you point out, this post is based on my observations, which are not scientific. Believe it or not, the majority of people I know use PCs, which is why I notice when their computers crap out after 3-4 years.

      The people I know that use Macs (the minority), have received much longer lifespans from their computers and also have had a much better user experience. As you note, however, to each their own.

      • http://www.AschemanSmith.com Landon Ascheman

        I have to agree with questioning your statement that Macs will make up for the increased cost by living longer. My 99 NEC and 2000 Dell are still up and running, although the use was limited by my 03 Dell (that one did died last October).

        Besides when they get to that age, you don’t want to feel forced to use them to make up for the extra money you spent.

        • http://lawyerist.com/author/randallryder/ Randall Ryder

          I’m shocked, but congrats to you, that’s awesome!

  • Mike

    Macbooks might be more expensive, but if you’re running a home office / network, the ease of networking, peripherals, printers, installing apps, etc. etc. etc., pays for itself in about one billable hour.

    Anyone who has ever spent hours looking for Windows drivers, troubleshooting a printer, looking for a file on their hard drive, etc., generally poking around under the hood, knows what I mean.

    (I left Windows late in the XP cycle, for all I know Windows 7 has fixed everything I hated about the Windows universe, YMMV)

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      I left Windows late in the XP cycle, for all I know Windows 7 has fixed everything I hated about the Windows universe, YMMV

      Yep, pretty much.

    • http://gregoryluce.com/ Gregory Luce

      I stuck through Vista but gave up at that point. No matter what raves may be said about Windows 7 (and I doubt it lives up to the raves), I’m not going back. I’ve switched to an Apple.

  • Chris Wheaton

    Prior to entering law school in 2005, I spent 15 years as a network engineer and Microsoft Certified Professional (MCSE). 1/3 of my way through school, my Dell crashed, as a result – I couldn’t take another day of Windows. I switched to Mac and haven’t looked back. Everything works and works well. The only time I have issues is when I cause them. The typical lifecycle of a business grade Wintel device is 18 months and I’ve gotten much more (as has Randall) from my Apple machines. I’ve very happy.

    More secure, more stable, more durable and longer lasting. Those four benefits and the lower TCO of the Apple devices have been a god-send to me. They are worth the price premium just for the piece of mind alone. I wouldn’t change a thing!

  • http://ethicsmaven.com/ Eric Cooperstein

    How can a 2006 computer be six years old? Is it like dog-years or something?

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/randallryder/ Randall Ryder

      Lawyer math. 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 is the sixth year of usage.

      • http://ethicsmaven.com/ Eric Cooperstein

        Uh-huh. Did that math work for you in college when you were trying to convince the bartender you were 21? I’m thinking not so much . . .

      • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

        So it’s more like 4.5 years old? Maybe 5?

        • http://lawyerist.com/author/randallryder/ Randall Ryder

          They’re both over 5 years old. Lawyer math.

  • C.M. Cook

    Out of curiosity, did you upgrade the O/S on these 2006 machines during the interim? Or do you still have Tiger running on them.

    I have two machines from 2006 and upgraded through Snow Leopard and have noticed a drop off in speed, more lagging, and especially lagging when Time Machine is backing up. I’m just wondering if, when I purchase a new machine, I should just plan on leaving the same O/S on it.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/randallryder/ Randall Ryder

      I’ve upgraded both of them to Snow Leopard and I think they both run faster now. That said, I think I wiped both computers clean and then upgraded, which may have been the source of the increased speed.

    • Steven Appelget

      Is your main hard disk pretty full? Fragmentation of free space on your swap drive can really bog your system.

  • http://lawyerist.com/author/kevinhouchin/ Kevin Houchin

    I was using my PowerMac G4 (purchased in early 2005 – you do the mat) until Easter of this year when my mother in law took pity on me and gave me her “slightly used” MacBook Pro. I think it was as much an excuse for her to upgrade as it was to be nice to me, but I’m thankful. It’s nice to be current. I didn’t have a hard time doing any normal-lawyer work on the old machine, but it’s nice to finally be able to have a system that will let me do some video editing with file processing times not calculated in hours. Now I just need to find the time myself.

    I was a graphic designer before becoming a lawyer. I grew up on Mac. I used PCs for a few years while I was doing brand consulting (basically using only Office, and Netscape – yes, Netscape). I moved back to a Mac as soon as I had the opportunity.

  • http://gngf.com/ Mark Homer

    I find it curiously interesting that a post about why people should by a Mac – and of course they should :-) — elicits more comments than the rest of your posts last week combined and you had some great “important” stuff last week on customer service, time management, etc.

    As an internet marketing person myself I just made a mental note that whenever I need to spur on some discussions on a fan page or blog I will write about why Macs are better than PCs. :-)

    Love your blog….

    And by the way, two more anecdotes for you…

    1. Overheard at a large company…. Employee with problem PC to tech in her cube working on machine – why can’t we just get macs, my iMac at home never gives me these issues … PC Tech: I sure hope that never happens or a lot of us would be out of jobs as macs don’t have as many issues. Employee: so you have used a Mac before. PC Tech: yeah I use a Mac at home

    2. Within a year after IBM sold off thinkpad division, they allowed employees (by demand) to use MacBooks as their standard machine.

    Just saying….. :-)

    Mark – @GNGFound

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/randallryder/ Randall Ryder

      I’m still trying to decide who has more passion, Mac lovers, or people who hate Mac lovers.