The most important things in any law office are the people: the attorneys, the paralegals, and the bright minds that make all the difference in effective advocacy.
The second most important thing, though? Computers. (They’re kind of like brains too.)
Even though lawyers got along just fine without fancy technology for many, many centuries, any attorney attempting to practice “off the grid” is up for a real challenge these days.
That’s also true outside the legal trade, of course. Anyone in any kind of business needs a reliable machine. But attorneys have special considerations here:
- Security. The bar expects you to keep your client’s information safe (and so do your clients!).
- Speed. While the idea of racking up more billable hours because your processor is slow might sound tempting, it really isn’t supposed to work that way, and your mental health is better served by a speedy machine.
- Battery life. Courtrooms don’t always have easily accessible power outlets — or easily predictable schedules. The last thing you want is for your laptop to die two hours into an eight-hour day in court.
- Compatibility. “You want to send me that agreement using which program?” Whether it’s opposing counsel, a mediator, a client, or some other third party, it seems like everyone has some newfangled system they insist on using. And while more folks are turning to the cloud, plenty of people are still on the ground, so compatibility remains a concern.
- Appearance. Your clients will judge you based on… well, everything. Including whether you seem like you’re a hip, with-it, 21st century kind of lawyer. Your computer equipment needs to look the part.
- Weight and portability. Briefcases and messenger bags are bulky enough without heavy or excessively wide devices weighing them down. What’s worse than wearing a suit while walking downtown on a 90-degree day? Carrying an extra fifteen pounds of circuit boards.
- Visual Health. Lawyers tend to spend much more time looking at computer screens than people in other professions. Studies have showed that too much screen time can cause stress, headaches, and fatigue in the short term… and serious harm to your vision in the long term. You can mitigate the damage by investing a screen that’s easier on the eyes.
- Budget. True, price tags are an issue for every buyer to consider. But while people assume all lawyers are loaded, that might not be true, especially if you’re a junior associate or just starting your own practice. Or maybe you’re a partner approving the purchase of a large order of laptops for the firm. Either way, it’s important not to let the allure of fancy features cause you to blow your budget.
So how do you make the right pick?
First: A Little Perspective
There are so many computer choices out there, you could spend the next month mulling over your options and fretting every detail.
Some people really care about specs— we call those people nerds, and we know them because a lot of them work here — but if you’re one of them, you’ve probably already bookmarked a hundred CNET and MacWorld reviews.
For everyone else, we think it’s important to take a breath and realize there are no fatal mistakes here. While you probably do need a decent computer, ultimately, you can get by with just about anything that still turns on and connects to the net.
So don’t let the process consume you, okay? Commit to narrowing your search by making a few simple decisions.
This article will walk you through those essential choices, and we’ll end with experts’ most highly recommended laptops for attorneys in 2017.
Which Is the Best Laptop for Lawyers: Mac or PC?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. Macs have a better reputation for performance, and their aesthetic has that “sleek and trendy” vibe that’ll keep you looking young and contemporary.
But there are PC options out there that hold their own with Macs. So if Windows is what you’re used to, it’s entirely unnecessary to reinvent the wheel. (The learning curve can be steep.)
You might have heard the biggest difference between Mac and PC is cost. While it’s true that all Macs are pricey and only some Windows machines are, you should probably avoid the lowest-end PCs… especially if this new laptop is going to be your primary device.
A Compatibility Warning
If you thought learning a new operating system sounded tough, just try jumping to a new case management system!
Last month, we helped you find the Top 10 case management software programs for attorneys. There were a lot of good picks there, many of which were compatible with only Mac or PC.
If your firm uses a case management system you’ve come to know and trust, make sure it’s compatible with your new device before you buy it.
Three of the Best Laptops for Lawyers in 2017
Staying on the cutting edge of computers can be tough, as new models roll out all the time.
If, by the time you’re reading this, the laptops on our list have gone off the market, try Googling the computer’s name minus its model number… in all likelihood, the manufacturer has a new edition out with a slightly higher number in the title.
While we’re still in 2017, at least, these three laptops are all the rage:
3. HP 250 G5 Notebook PC (Energy Star)
- 50 GB HDD hard drive
- 6th Generation Intel Core i5 processor
- 4 GB of memory
- 15.6-inch HD screen
- Extremely sturdy and durable
- Value pricing
- One of the best-reviewed, low-price laptops for business professionals
- Sleek black design
The Manufacturer says:
“…Designed to fit the needs of business… it looks as professional as you do.”
Earlier, we advised you to avoid lower-priced PCs. The HP 250 G5 Notebook PC is an exception to the rule. With prices starting in the $500 range, it’s a real value, and the reviews are solid. While you’ll find much more advanced features at a higher price below, this workhorse of a laptop makes for a great backup computer or travel companion.
2. Lenovo ThinkPad T570
- The Specs:
- up to 1TB SSD hard drive
- up to 3.9GHz 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7600U processor
- up to Intel HD Graphics 620 card
- up to 32 GB of DDR4 2133 MHz ram 15.6-inch screen
- EPIC battery life… up to 27 hours on a single charge!
- 3K screen display… not quite 4K, but better than most
- Dolby Advanced Audio speakers
- Lightweight and thin without sacrificing capability
- Secure fingerprint and facial recognition login features
- Touch ID for easy, secure log-in
- Lightweight 3 lb. and 4 lb. models available
You can find models for under $900
The Manufacturer says:
“Ready for Business: Day and Night…. With the world open for business 24/7, you need a portable PC that can keep pace. Like the ThinkPad T570.”
Lenovo’s ThinkPad has long been a go-to laptop in both the business and academic worlds. With a wide range of models and customization options, you can easily scale up or down into a ready-made computer that meets your needs. It’s never been the sexiest notebook on the block, but it sits nicely at the intersection of power and portability.
1. Apple MacBook Pro
- The Specs:
- up to 512 GB SSD hard drive (configurable up to 2 TB SSD)
- up to 2.9GHz quad-core Intel i7 processor (with Turbo Boost up to 3.9 GHz)
- Intel HD Graphics 630 card
- 16 GB of LPDDR3 2133 MHz ram
- up to 15.4-inch screen
- Powerful performance
- Excellent support options from Apple
- An attractive design that catches the eye
- A widely respected brand name your clients will trust
- Retina display is designed with your eyes in mind
- Highly customizable
- Generally less vulnerable to bugs
The Manufacturer says:
“It’s razor thin, feather light, and even faster and more powerful than before. It has the brightest, most colorful Mac notebook display ever.”
Okay, you caught us. We’re Mac fans. (Well, a lot of our team members are, anyway.) But there’s a reason for that. Apple makes great products, and their operating system is easy to use. Compatibility isn’t the issue it once was with this brand, and their security is an attractive feature for lawyers. And hey, when something goes wrong, the option of running down to the Apple Store for a quick fix is always appealing.
Laptops Can Do a Lot for Lawyers… and So Can We
Black Fin is the top-ranked attorney web design and SEO agency on the internet, so we know a thing or two about computers… and we’ve seen first-hand how important they are in our clients’ daily lives.
A laptop is too expensive and important a purchase to risk buyer’s remorse, so make a decision you’ll feel good about.
If that means spending slightly more on a higher-quality laptop now, the decision usually pays off in the long run. Your computer is one of your key investments, after all. It can do a lot for you.
We can do a lot for you using our computers too. Web design and SEO are the single most powerful tools for getting bigger and better clients to your firm. Contact our office and find out how we can make that happen for you.