Skip to Content
Skip to Table of Contents

← Previous Article Next Article →

ATPM 3.09
September 1997




How To


Download ATPM 3.09

Choose a format:

Segments: Slices From the Macintosh Life

by Thomas Mabry,

How I Got Started with the Mac

July 27, 1997, 11:38 AM
Those entries of exact time and date were made by my word processing program at the click of a that elicited consternation and awe when Thomas F. Mabry, P.C., obtained its first Macintosh in March of 1994.

The Mac was user-friendly and welcome because this user thought hardware meant hammers and nails and software was a cashmere sweater. Gradually, though, I taught myself the nuances of the machine with several "___________ For Dummies" books and a fair assortment of trials, errors, sweat and tears. I began learning a new language along the way.

My first foray into the world of online research for my real "trials" occurred when the West Publishing rep advised that, yes, they did have software for Macintosh, and, yes, they did have Tennessee law on a CD Rom disk, and yes, it was affordable. Now there was a whole law library at my fingertips and the means by which to create nifty briefs and terrific pleadings. I won a couple of cases with unpublished opinions picked from the disk on the way to Court. The computer was remarkable, but then the hot news became the World Wide Web...

Today, I am wired: not in the sense of an existential reaction to law office tension, but rather in terms of computer literacy and an Internet connection...a welcome to the Brave New World of electronic law office technology.

Hooking up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for about $ 20.00 bucks a month for unlimited access, I used the second telephone line at the office as a part time Internet station, and I could also access law from the Web at home. The Tennessee Bar Association's acclaimed web site (at a real steal for $25.00 a year) offered access to case and statutory law and through the acclaimed TBA Link my firm had access to the e-mail distribution of electronic slip opinions delivered to "our door" each day.

I soon subscribed to free Internet e-mail discussion lists named TBA Talk, the Techno-Lawyers, and MacAttorneys. From these online sources, I further honed my "cyber-research" skills and from the marvelous Web gained insight into the use of inexpensive software and research sites which provided—in a "virtual" blink of an eye—case and statutory law from virtually every jurisdiction.

Query: How has this technology affected my little ole law practice? Much like the car affected transportation when it was new to the mass consumer. I found that with some ingenuity the solo lawyer could compete with the big firms on a not so big budget. Valuable time, energy and effort were saved where inundation and exasperation were fast becoming the rule. I took my Apple Powerbook to seminars and depositions ("Is that a computer in there?") and my Apple Newton hand held computer to Court ("What's the fancy gizmo, Tom?"). My productivity has increased and now I can actually locate "most" of my notes.

And the cost has not been unduly prohibitive. Really. Neither in terms of money nor time. Not compared to what I understand the large firms are expending for their electronic access to the law and law-related products. Thomas F. Mabry, P.C., through its own inexpensive website and an e-mail
address through the ISP, has contact with clients, attorneys, and legal sources throughout the state, country and the world.

"They say" that Macs are much more expensive than the Wintel machines. Well, when one shops at MacMall or MacConnection or MacWarehouse, the prices are inexpensive. And lawyers who use the Mac are invariably friendly and helpful in presenting information on what types of machines and software to buy.

"They say" you can't find software for the Macintosh law office. This misconception is apparently pervasive and, well, erroneous and distorted. Really. All one has to do is to go to Randy Singer's site at <>. Contact Al Barsocchini at <> and he'll show you where to find some Mac software. I have found everything that I could possibly need electronically and in word processing needs for the Macintosh.

In general, I'd like to point out that in the course of preparing this article one Friday evening, I asked the Techno-Lawyers for input. By Saturday morning, more than ten (10) responses had been generated.

Attorney Alan Arfken of the Chattanooga Bar summed it up:

You've already demonstrated the most effective use of electronic communication for the small or solo firm—instant collaboration and other types of communication such as formal and informal publishing, not to mention research options that are no longer $4.50 per minute.

Harold L. Burstyn, a patent attorney with the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate wrote:

With four lawyers (two military and two civilian), our office is similarly situated to a small firm. I'm on the Internet every day, keeping up with news of intellectual property law, downloading cases (I don't need star page nos.) and govt. docs., and limited patent searching. I also use E-Mail extensively, both internal and external. Our claims people (one lawyer, one paralegal, both military) use the Internet to locate people and to download information for, e.g., medical malpractice claims.

Finally, Wendy Leibowitz, Technology Editor of the National Law Journal, opined:

I think solos and small firms are leveraging the hell out of the technology, and it's a delight. They are able to adapt to technology more quickly than the big firms, compete head-on with the big firms for business from tech-savvy clients like Dupont, and sometimes lead and advise their clients on using technology. Three points to cover: serving your clients from your homepage (at the bottom of this post there's a good url of a sole practitioner); efficient time and billing systems (why should a solo or small firm person waste time with accounting matters?) and creating databases of your previous work to avoid reinventing your own wheel. That's my two cents.

These e-mails were received within thirty (30) minutes of my posting the request on the Techno-Lawyer listserver.

1:31 PM
That's how long this article took to produce: a token of my gratitude to the electronic age, the Macintosh computer and Apple Computer products, and the encouragement that I've had to utilize this technology to its fullest potential in my small firm practice.

By the way, I have also been encouraged to spend the remainder of this Sunday afternoon with my wife... another obvious advantage of learning without consultants how to practice law with the Macintosh <g>. I'm heading for the mountains!

Postscript (August 1, 1997)
This revolution in my lawyer life began and ended with the Mac. I have yet to use a consultant. I obtain all my information on how to network my computers and operate the intricacies of the Macs from sites like Macfixit
<>; I keep up with all the latest software updates from Version Tracker <> and from the MacAttorneys mailing list <>. I have received much valuable assistance in every area of operating my Macs.

By the way, the new Mac Operating System, the OS 8, is outstanding.

Blue AppleThe Segments section is open to anyone. If you have something interesting to say about life with your Mac, write us at <>.

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (0)

Add A Comment

 E-mail me new comments on this article