Not investment. Can an iPad replace your laptop

Apple products have become an obsession of mine. I just love using them, and I just love reading about them. Relaxing, and never grows tiring.

In my law practice, I got rid of my server, and moved completely to the cloud. My practice management software is a very sophisticated cloud application (not the simpler cloud apps that have proliferated), I save everything on Dropbox, and without realizing it, it has made a profound difference in my computing needs.

I still use a Macbook Pro, and a super computer like Samsung 17" laptop. One at the home office, and one at the office, along with large second monitor for both, and Apple TV in court. I also use an iPad Air 2, and an iPad Mini 4, with their own keyboards and TrialPad software (truly profound paradigm changing piece of software that only works on iPad).

Anyways, at this point in time, the only real needs I have for a laptop are (1) it can use multiple monitors (but this is something, specified below, that I am moving away from anyways), (2) I am mostly paperless and need to scan everything and my Macbook is what I scan to, although there is now a scan direct to Dropbox feature that bypasses the need for an attached computer (albeit, this option does not OCR the document), (3) organizing files in Dropbox (something that I can also reasonably do with iPad), and (4) Dropbox files are also local on the SSD memory of the Macbook, so a more secure way to make sure you can quickly access your files from Dropbox (although you can reasonably access files on ipad even with tethering to iPhone in most places - not quite in all courtrooms though - too bad, although one can download locally to ipad as well, but another task I don’t need).

So, I finally got my printer set up with my WiFi and like, whoa! My iPad actually prints to the printer faster than my attached Macbook Pro via USB.

I have also found that I focus better, and get things done better with a 9.7" or 7.9" screen, with just a few apps to focus on at a time.

Long and short, I am almost at the point where I can run a law firm, in the cloud, off of a last generation iPad Air 2 or even iPad Mini 4.

Yes, I still think in the end I will be more productive on the Macbook Pro or on the supercomputer 17" Samsung laptop with mouse, but the gap is small enough that I could probably get by either way with maybe only losing half a step.

Anyone else have any similar experiences?

Oh yes, Excel cannot run macros on iPad. Albeit, if I were to subscribe to Office 365 I am not clear if I could then run macros. I do need to run macros. My work around is GoToMy PC, where I can access Excel remotely to run the necessary macros. Pain, but that is one last issue I have. An important one mind you.

Tinker

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I find this fascinating, Tinker. I work for an IT company that provides hybrid solutions (cloud and on-premise). What you’re experiencing is what I’m seeing more and more customers move to because the cloud environment is so easy to manage for small/medium size businesses. There is no need to have an “IT expert” on staff. I look forward to hearing more about your office transformation.

~TracyK

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I am doing billing today. I got rid of my normal bookkeeper and billing manager and I am turning billing and collections into a client relationship opportunity.

With my cloud case management system, I am able to completely manage my trust, client expenses, billing, and everything, from this one system. billing for example, I simply hit two buttons, and it goes, including accounting for expenses and trust money transfers, and the invoice is emailed directly to my client.

In the billing, I give the client an update on the case, if I need more money, etc. It allows me to stay on better top of each case so nothing slips by, allows me to stay on top of the business much better, and stay in touch with clients. It takes me about 4 hours to do so on one day, and another 2 hours or so to audit and balance my accounts on another day comparing my computer numbers with the electronic bank statements.

I then manually enter in expenses into Excel for each month. Outsource payroll and I qood to go. No more embezzlement issues. no more feeling out of control of my business having to trust it to someone who does not know what is going on with each specific case, or care much about the business, and I am again the heart and soul of my business, not just my cases.

The POWER is amazing. And I do all of this without having to worry about any IT issues as it is all handled through Microsoft Azure cloud and Dropbox and either on MacBook or iPad, that are quite stable.

Doing so today, I have 5 screens open. The MacBook Pro is the center, my supercomputer Samsung I have a spreadsheet open to summarize the months billing for each client, and I am using the iPads to create to do notes. I am not paid, my bills are accurate, accounts balanced, and I know what I need to do on every case and prioritized by clients with money in my trust account.

All this is just to example, in case you underestimate the power of the cloud, don’t.

As for the MacBook and iPad replacement issue. Yes, I really am more efficient on the MacBook and the trackpad. Trackpad is faster than screen touching (sorry Windows 10). Nevertheless, I could do all this reasonably well with one iPad, better with 2 iPads, and as Apple always infuriatingly does, there are things the iPads do that the MacBook is not as good at, and vice versa. In the end - APPPPPPLLEEEE in fit of frustration - I still need both.

But both are more efficient, and more stable than what I experience with the Windows alternatives. So my life is better since I switched to Apple, even with more computing devices, and moved to the cloud (even given the sometime connection problems and hiccups that are endemic with cloud computing. There is a lag sometimes, and you need to hit refresh sometimes to get the dang thing working again).

So, for anyone interested in the state of my computing, and the power of the cloud for future investment decisions. The cloud is truly disruptive. I handle more information, more securely, more portably, more efficiently, than I did even when I had my own server with IT contractor on stand by.

Tinker

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Hi Tinker,

I am curious as to what software you are using for billing & bookkeeping.

Anirban

Anirban,

I use Amicus Online. It is case management, customer relations, calendaring, to dos, trust accounting, and billing software. It is not bookkeeping however, except as I can also track a second trust account per client and client expenses as well.

It is a far more comprehensive and mature solution than many of the other cloud solutions that are more pioneers. Amicus is a product I started using in the 1990s and has now gone premium server software for larger firms and cloud for smaller firms. There are other solutions like Clio or Practice Panther or the like, but none of these solutions that were created specifically for the cloud have near the depth or sophistication as Amicus. I’ve tried them all. It is simply ignorance (really, as most small law firms are not that sophisticated technology wise, nor have sufficient experience to understand was software can do).

As for bookkeeping, that is not a big issue for me. I get my revenues and client expenses out of Amicus, and I pay all my expenses out of 1 of 3 bank accounts that all have electronic monthly statements or through something like a payroll service or merchant service that gives me a monthly statement, making it easy to keep track of them in Excel. I use the cash method for accounting, so no undue complexity.

Amazing how keeping one’s own books, instead of outsourcing it, results in cutting so many expenses.

If you are an attorney I cannot recommend Amicus Online enough. There are complaints because the cloud implementation has lag issues sometimes, and you have to hit the refresh button more than necessary sometimes, but dang if I don’t keep track of an enormous amount of information, including integrated Outlook, and all other aspects of law practice, legal research, notes, calendaring, to dos, billing, trust accounting, document automation, et al., all in an intuitive and surprisingly affordable package.

The bookkeeping itself is the easiest aspect of my data collection needs. Amazing how much more in touch I am with clients now that I have personally done my own billing 2 months in a row, and balanced my trust accounts to the penny, with no embezzlement or stupid errors.

Tinker

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