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

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.

  • A Mac Lawyer’s Notebook: Case Management

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

  • Using Daylite as Case Management Software
  • Productivity Programs for Mac Lawyers

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

  • Programs to Help the Mac Lawyer Be More Productive
  • Calendar and Contact Management

Kern Lewis, wrote this post at the Texas Lawyer:

  • Trial Preparation Made Simple With Macs

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:

  • Marketcircle’s Billings 2
  • Billings 2 Review

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.

  • Journler… but not Journaling
  • Case Analysis Using Journler

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:

  • Apple Briefs | Review: OmniFocus

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

  • Fits Like a Productivity Glove

Things

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

  • Apple Briefs | Review: Things

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:

  • FileMaker | Scripting for Lawyers

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:

  • Apple Briefs | Bento: FileMaker “Lite”
  • Apple Briefs | Mini-Review: Bento

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:

  • The Mac Lawyer: Productivity Programs for Mac Lawyers
  • The Mac Lawyer: Software I Use :: Circus Ponies Notebook
  • Home Office Lawyer: Programs to Help the Mac Lawyer be More Productive

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:

  • The Mac Lawyer: Top Ten Mac Applications for Solo Attorneys
  • Home Office Lawyer: EasyTime – New Mac Billing Program for a Law Office

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:

  • The Mac Lawyer: Information About Rocket Matter
  • A Quick Look at Rocket Matter | Criminal Defense Law With An Apple
  • TechnoEsq » Ethics of Web-based Management of Client Records

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:

  • The Mac Lawyer: Top Ten Mac Applications for Solo Attorneys
  • Home Office Lawyer: The Connected Lawyer – Basecamp

Other Resources

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

  • The Mac Lawyer: Business Applications for the Mac

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.