Macs in Law Offices: A Rising Trend?

At last week’s second annual MILOfest, the official Macs In Law Offices conference, I was pleased to have the opportunity to share the results of Clio’s inaugural Apple in Law Offices Survey.

The Apple in Law Offices survey was undertaken as an attempt to quantify what seems to be a rising trend of using Macs, iPads, iPhones, and other Apple products in law offices. While the number of anecdotes of PC users switching to Macs, BlackBerry users opting for iPhones, and iPads being embraced is no doubt on the rise, there is a lack of hard data to track these trends against. The Apple in Law Offices survey aims to address this by providing an annual survey to keep a pulse on the adoption of Macs, iPhones, iPads, and future Apple products in law offices.

The full survey results are available on the Clio Blog; here are some of the highlights:

835 respondents completed the survey, and were composed of the following demographic:

  • 49% practiced in a small firm (1-10 attorneys)
  • 8% practiced in a medium-sized firm (11-50 attorneys)
  • 17 % practiced in a large firm (>50 attorneys)
  • 10% were law students
  • 3% were in-house counsel

Lawyers Respondents

  • 55% of lawyers responding to the survey currently use Macs
  • 18% of Mac-using lawyers have been using a Mac for less than 1 year, 41% between 1 and 3 years, and 41% for more than 3 years

Why Mac?

  • 46% of respondents indicated that their decision to use Macs instead of PCs was because Apple technology is more reliable and secure; 32% of respondents indicated their decision was motivated by Mac’s usability.

iPads in Law Offices

  • 26% of respondents currently use iPads in their law office
  • 42% of respondents that currently do not use iPads in their law office are considering purchasing an iPad in the next year

iPhones in Law Offices

  • 50.3% of respondents currently use iPhones as their primary device. 27.3% use BlackBerries; 9.8% use Android-based devices; 2.3% use Palm devices
  • 27% of respondents plan on switching their primary mobile device in the next year,
  • Of those planning to switch devices, 65% plan on switching to an iPhone; 21% plan on switching to an Android device; only 7% plan on switching to BlackBerry


  • 19% of respondents that are currently PC users indicated they are considering switching to Macs in the next year


  • Of law offices currently using Macs in their law office, 98.4% would choose to use Macs again.

Cloud-based Apps used by Mac Law Firms

  • The most widely-used cloud-based application was Google Apps, with over 30% of respondents indicating they use Google’s web-based productivity suite
  • The next most widely-used cloud-based app was Clio, at 9.7% usage, followed by QuickBooks Online, at 7.4%

Desktop Apps used by Mac Law Firms

  • The most widely-used app in law offices was Microsoft Office, with 37% of offices indicating they use Microsoft’s productivity suite
  • iWork was second place with 19% usage.
  • Parallels was 3rd at 11.3%

Student Respondents

  • 63% of law students that responded are Mac users
  • Only 10% of law students that responded are currently iPad users, but 70% of them plan on purchasing one in the next year
  • 63% of law students that responded plan to use Macs for their law office’s IT needs when they graduate

The inaugural Apple in Law Offices survey provides several high-level takeaways.

First, Apple products are being used widely in law offices, and their usage appears to be on the rise. 20% of PC-using law firms are considering making the switch to Macs in the next year, and the next generation of lawyers – current law students – are primarily using Macs.

Second, the iPhone is, without question, gaining huge traction in the legal space. Over 50% of respondents currently use iPhones, and of those planning on switching mobile devices in the next year, 65% plan on switching to an iPhone. While Android-based devices appear to also be gaining momentum, things are not looking good for RIM.

Third, the widely-held notion that Mac users select their products based on superficial design qualities is disproved by the survey results: over 46% of respondents indicated they chose Macs instead of PCs was because Apple technology is more reliable and secure, and 32% of respondents indicated their decision was motivated by Mac’s usability.

Finally, Apple-using law offices love Apple products, and over 98% would make the decision to use Apple products in their law offices again.

What do you think of the survey results? What would you like to see asked in next year’s survey? Let me know in the comments.


  1. When I read that 37% of the lawyers using Macs use Microsoft Office products, I wondered what word processor(s) do they use? I suppose WordPerfect with Parallels or Pages, but neither seems to be a strong enough candidate to lure 63% of the market from Word.

    My assumption is that every law office will have some word processor – it’s the nature of the beast.

  2. In response to Mr. Siebel’s question:

    You’d be surprised at how many Mac users really like Pages. I’m not one of them, but it’s a larger number than you think. Either way, you’re right: the Pages users don’t account for the 63% of Mac attorneys who aren’t using MS Office.

    I’m guessing that most of that 63% is using NeoOffice – the Mac version of Open Office, an open source code office suite which looks, feels, and works very much like MS Office.

  3. Surprisingly, perhaps, there’s a lot that can be done with TextEdit in RTF mode. If you don’t need fancy layout, footnotes, or tables, that simple tool does just fine. And it accepts images as an RTFD file. You can output to .doc, .docx, .xml, .html, and .pdf.

  4. As I recently posted here, we have used Microsoft Office for Mac for several years. Regarding comment #1, I think that the 37% figure above also represents users of Microsoft Office for Mac, who are of course using Word as their word processor. Our office’s formatting-intensive wills and trusts require extensive use of styles and the like. However, we have easily passed those documents back and forth between our Macs and the couple of remaining PCs in our office, with all of them using Microsoft Office and without a single issue. The new Office for Mac 2011 appears to be even stronger in terms of exchanging and collaborating on documents among Macs and PCs. In my view, lawyers who rely on Microsoft Office will be elated with Macs that can run the same applications — often better than their PC counterparts. Then without constant security patches and/or restarts (to say nothing of \blue screens\ or more significant performance issues), I think that scores of lawyers will realize the real appeal of Apple products.