My friend, Randy Juip, has written a two-part Guest Post explaining in depth why his firm converted to Macs. He was also a guest on an upcoming edition of the MILO Weekly podcast discussing this same subject. I am pleased to present Part One of his Guest Post, “Why We Went Mac, and Have Never Looked Back….”:
So many firms are locked into legacy systems — they have PC’s, and so they continue to buy PC’s, almost without thought or consideration to the alternatives.
But I was lucky. When I opened my firm in July of 2009, I was starting from scratch. This was a totally new firm; the logistics were almost overwhelming. We would need everything, from trash bins to desks, and from staplers to computers. Taking time off from selecting legal pads and chair mats, one of the more interesting questions was also one of the easiest to answer: Mac or PC? Since I’ve always loved Macs, it was easy to go in that direction. We’ve never looked back.
The PC Consideration
So yes, PC’s are cheaper out of the box. And cost was a factor. We priced a number of different PC systems, from custom-built boxes to ordering the whole lot from Dell. It turns out that the savings — not counting valuable, billable time — was measurable but not as compelling as one would expect.
There were a number of considerations that lead us away from PC’s. First was the sheer technological hurdle of setting up and running a PC-based office. Macs are easy easy to set up and easy to network. You don’t have to spend hours adding available printers or copiers with a Mac. With a PC environment, on the other hand, our fear was that we’d spend much of our critical first-month start-up time babysitting fragile network settings. Macs just work, PC’s aren’t really that easy.
Second, we didn’t want to have a PC firm. PC’s are notorious for “gunking up,” for not working as well as they should, for needing constant attention and diligence to make everything work right. My partner and I knew from our own experience that running a firm from Macs would avoid these hassles.
Third, we are a young firm. We’re clever, and technologically savvy. We rely on email, PDF conversions, electronic records, and computers in general much more than our competitors. I had used PowerPoint (and now Keynote) for trials long before other attorneys began utilizing such things. “Going Mac” would fit in with the image we wanted to portray. It just made sense.
So, everyone at the office is now on one of two set-ups:
The MacBook Pro Set-Up
My partner and I, as well as our office manager, are on MacBook Pros (various models, but a minimum of 4GB RAM). The important consideration for us was making sure that the MBP had enough Video RAM to run an external monitor without choking on it. For docking and/or desk space, I have my MBP nestled in one of twelvesouth’s BookArc stands. They’re really sharp, and help not only display the sharp design, but to cool the MBP while it’s processing. I am waiting eagerly for HengeDock’s new product — a base that you will slip a MBP into and out of, with all the connections available at all times. I understand that they have availability for 13” MacBooks and MBP’s, but not for the 15” and 17” models (yet).
For the external display, we selected Dell 24” G2410t monitors. They’re beautiful, accept an external arm mount on the back, and are generally well-reviewed (although I understand they’ve been discontinued by Dell — too bad!). Also, they are very affordable — if you don’t mind buying on eBay.
These monitors are mounted using Ergotron’s LX monitor arms, which are not only sleek and stylish, but have support for multiple-monitorconfigurations. You know, in case we want to do that… The Ergotron LX, again, can be found very affordably on eBay. I have really appreciated the flexibility of this arrangement — especially on heavy drafting days. Moving the monitor in and out, closer and further from my face is a luxury I don’t know if I could now do without.
Lastly, for input, I use the Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad — I can’t tolerate the smaller keyboards without the number pad. They just don’t work for me. Being old-school, I also am partial to the original wired Mighty Mouse, which is no longer available from Apple. My partner believes that I’m crazy, as he’s devoted to the Apple Wireless Keyboard and the new-model Apple Magic Mouse. Our office manager likes a generic PC USB Keyboard and a generic PC USB Mouse. I suppose everyone will have their own preferences for input.
With this set-up, there are also the peripherals…. Each MBP needs an adapter (like the Micro-DVI to DVI adapter sold by Apple) to connect the external monitor. I bought a USB extender cable to snake up through the Ergotron arm so I could have my USB keyboard cable not drape across my desk. Each computer, as well, has a 1TB External Drive (I have grown attached to the reliability and aesthetics of Fantom Drives’ GreenDrive) attached (either by USB or by Firewire, depending on the set-up) for use as a Time Machine disk.
The iMac Set-Up
The support staff and associates have 24” iMacs. We bought these refurbished from the Apple web site, and purchased an AppleCare package for each of them. We were fortunate that Apple had enough of the refurbished models in stock when we needed them; it’s sometimes hit or miss when buying refurbished from the Apple site.
My office manager and support staff, along with some of the associates, were concerned about the switch from PCs to Macs, and with “relearning” the everyday workflow of a new OS. However, when they saw the difference between the old 15” CRT monitors they were used to, and the beauty and size of the new 24” iMac display, much of this concern was alleviated. We had already transitioned away from Corel’s dreaded Word Perfect word processor to Microsoft Word and the Office suite, so there wasn’t much to learn there. And, once the staff learned to integrate spotlight, quicklook, and the dozens of other helpful Mac shortcuts into their workflow, everyone — every single employee of mine — agrees that they are more productive and happier using Macs than using the old PC’s.
There’s not much more to say about these set-ups. They make work easy and employees happy, and what more could one want?
Randall A. Juip is now a partner with Foley, Baron, Metzger & Juip, PLLC, and he focuses his practice on professional negligence defense, business litigation, civil rights law, and public relations work (including risk management, crisis management, and public representation).