I’m reluctant to write about software as a stand-alone topic. I address various software-dependant workflows and productivity solutions elsewhere in this knowledge base.
A basic, guiding principle here is to find the industry leader in the space and use it–unless there is a compelling reason to use an alternative. Why? Industry leading solutions are typically time-tested and reliable. Moreover, you can answer questions about them (and you will have questions) by going to YouTube or by Googling.
Here is a list of essential and recommended computer1 sotware and online software-as-service (SAS) products:
- Google Chrome web browser for browsing the Internet.
- Gmail or another dedicated, professional email service provider with web-based access. Don’t do this on your own with an in-house mail server. Of course you can use Outlook or another local client to access email if you’d like.
- MS Word. You can’t practice law without this word processor. Google Docs has a role to play in collaborating on rough drafts with others, but only MS Word is appropriate for finalizing lawyer work product.
- Dropbox, Google Drive, or MS OneDrive for document sharing, syncing, and backup.
- Adobe Acrobat (full version) for reviewing, creating, editing, annotating, and managing PDFs.
- Clio for time recording, billing, calendaring, tasks, and trust account management. There are other SAS providers in this space that are very good, but Clio is the industry leader with abundant support and online resources for assistant.
- CaseFleet for case-level organization.
- MS Windows File Explorer to hierarchically organize electronic files and documents. This is baked into Windows.
- MS Windows Security for firewall and virus protection. This also is baked into Windows. Use this and keep it updated. If you do, there is no need for McAfee or any other third-party solutions for virus protection.
- Mindmanger for mindmapping. I know, most of you don’t even know what this is. Don’t get me started on how critical it is for lawyers to mindmap to organize cases, witness examinations, deposition outlines, and the like.
- WordPress. If you are going to create and manage your own website, this is the platform to use. Something like 70% of the Internet uses it. I made that number up, but it is probably close to true.
- I address iPhone and iPad apps elsewhere. ↵