Buying a laptop for a law office is actually quite easy. Once firms understand that the computer is only a tool doing a specific job, a lot of the consternation falls away. Questions like, how fast should the processor be, or what size hard drive should we buy, are easily answered. What is it that the user actually needs? Sure, there are some basic requirements to get right, but, ultimately, it’s a question of function.
Luckily, most law firms need their laptops to serve a lot of the same functions. And, although there are many ways to get a laptop purchase wrong, there are many more ways to get it right. Many of the decisions lawyers get stuck on are simply a matter of preference. Below, we’ll go through the important features a firm should consider. These include how much they should expect to spend and where they should look to buy from.
Laptop Specifications for Law Firms
Mac vs PC
The first question many firms consider is whether they should buy a Mac or a PC. This feels like an important question. While it does start to limit a user’s choice of connected devices, it’s not as constraining a factor as it once was. Most (but certainly not all) programs that attorneys use will work equally well on a Mac as they will on a PC. Even Microsoft Word works seamlessly on a Mac these days. Well, as seamlessly as MS Word can work.
Law firms should use whichever computer style they are comfortable with. Even the price difference melts away when comparing computers with similar specs.
Laptop Speed for a Law Firm
Unless a firm is using its computers for extraneous tasks like video editing, or online gaming, there is no need to think too much about processor speed. Firms don’t need the fastest processors on the market they’ll never use the speed they paid for. On the other hand, they do not need to get the cheapest processor out there—time is still money.
Firms should look to straddle the middle of the processor market with something like the Intel i5, i7, or comparable. And for Mac users, the M1 processor of the 2020 Macbook Air will likely handle anything a typical law firm will throw at it.
Laptop Memory for Law Firms
When it comes to memory specifications, most people think that more is always better. And, for the most part, they are right. Although there is no need to buy too much memory intentionally. Hard drive space isn’t as expensive as it once was, and law offices are saving more and more data in digital form.
Firms should simply keep in mind where most of their data will be stored. Will it be in a cloud-based practice management system or will it be local? For a cloud-based firm, a 256GB hard drive will likely work. A local firm will probably want to start with 1TB and go from there. Typically, one can add extra storage space with relative ease.
A firm’s choice of screen size is more about the user’s preference than anything else. Where some prefer the portability of a 13-inch, others can’t get work done with something less than 17 inches. Rather than focusing on the laptop screen size, however, firms should look to add a second monitor to their laptop setup.
How Much a Law Firm Laptop Should Cost
When computers were simply performing word processing and basic communication tasks in law offices, a firm could get away with a cheap setup. Those days are gone. Most of what a lawyer does in their practice involves a computer. The computer is now the most important tool in a law office. Firms should not buy cheap tools.
Although it can vary considerably, a firm should look to spend at least $1000 on a new laptop for their office. It would not be uncommon to spend $1500 to $1750. One should expect to replace these machines once every three years. A computer won’t typically fail within three years, but it will start to lag behind and cost the firm money.
Where Lawyers Should Buy Their Laptops
Law firms should look to purchase their laptops from a reputable online dealer. They should not go to the big box stores to choose from a limited list of machines intended for mass consumption. Firms should buy directly from Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and other tried and tested technology companies. They can also look to resellers like Newegg.com or Backmarket.com where they can get quality refurbished laptops at reasonable prices.
Key Takeaways for Buying a Law Firm Laptop
At the end of the day, a laptop is simply a tool in a law office. Purchasers will do well to keep this in mind during their search. Although there are some minimum standards to consider, it is not necessary to purchase the fastest laptop on the market. A good law firm laptop will likely cost between $1000 and $1750 and will need to be replaced in about three years.
Last updated March 2nd, 2023