February 2015

Most lawyers run their law firms on Windows. Mac is a growing platform, particularly for solos and small firms. And while Android leads in overall smart phone market share, iPhones are more popular with lawyers. And what about tablets? There are compelling offerings in the Apple, Android, and Windows ecosystems. Do you need to stick with one platform across all of your tech devices?

Probably not. Being “cross-platform” has many advantages. Perhaps the most important is that you can pick the best device/platform for the task at hand. If you want the widest choice of hardware and software in your office, go with Windows PC’s. If you want the best tablet for portable use in court or managing your firm, Apple’s iPad is still the best choice (and I say this as the owner of an iPad, a Nexus 7 Android tablet, and a Dell Venue Pro 8 Windows 8.1 tablet, so I’ve had a chance to compare all three platforms in my own solo practice over a long period of time).

On the road, if you want a traditional clamshell style laptop for responding to email, web browsing, or drafting and editing documents, your cheapest and most secure choice will be a Chromebook. Google’s browser-based operating system gets more capable all the time, including new off-line capabilities. Chromebooks can’t get viruses and they are closer to being hack proof than anything running Windows or Mac OS X.

While the purveyors of the major platforms would like you to live your business and personal life entirely within their particular ecosystem, it is surprisingly easy to live cross-platform. Operating systems are becoming more intuitive with each new version (well, Windows 8.1 may be an exception, but that is about to be correction with Windows 10). If you can use a PC, you can very quickly adapt to a Mac. If you use an iPhone, Android 5.0 will be a simple adjustment. And if you can use a web browser (particularly if Google Chrome is already your desktop/laptop choice), you already know how to use a Chromebook. Intuition only takes you part way, of course. If you rely on a platform to run your firm, training on the software and operating system is recommended.

If you keep an open mind, you will discover that just because you are a Mac user, you don’t necessarily need to use an iPhone. If you are a Windows PC user, a traditional Windows laptop may not be your best mobile choice. Microsoft has recently gone a long way to make cross-platform a viable choice for lawyers. MS Office and Outlook apps area available on iOS and Android devices. They work amazingly well. Try out the different platforms, check the available software and apps, and pick what works best for each major function in your professional and personal life. As nice as “one size fits all” might be, in the real world of law office technology it doesn’t yet exist.

About Scott Bassett: Scott Bassett is the Senior Editor for Affinity Publications, which is a fancy title for editor of their monthly email newsletter. He also contributes regularly to the Affinity blog. Scott came to technology via the law and he still maintains a full-time virtual law practice handling Michigan family law appeals. He received his J.D. degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981 and his B.A. from Wayne State University in 1978. His interests are technology (“duh”), law (double-”duh”), music, and bicycling.