Anyone use a Mac in Law School?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Michael7k, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. Michael7k macrumors member

    Sep 9, 2005
    My daughter and wife visited South Texas Law School, in Houston, Texas. She will start there this fall. I did not get to attend the visit as tax season was upon me. When they asked the school a question concerning an Apple laptop the answer was "the tech department works with PC's...some testing software might not work on the Mac. It was not a firm yes or no in any direction.

    Being a Mac person and my daughter working with Macs she and I both would prefer a Mac. Has anyone utilized an Apple in Law School or have experience with Mac’s in Law School? I’m sure someone has more of a perception than I, on this issue. Any insight or input would be greatly appreciated.

    Again thank you for any help.

  2. sk1985 macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2006
    Just buy her a mac that can dual boot into windows. Theres a good solution. I'm in undergrad I will say some testing software doesn't work with Macs. But I work around it (i.e use a friends pc or virtual PC).
  3. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Regardless of their official, definitive answer, I think you can buy an Apple laptop with the confidence that it will be usable, if for no other reason than the fact that you can install XP and boot into it, at which point it quite literally is a Windows laptop. Also, virtualization software (such as that by Parallels) will allow her to run Windows in a, well, window on her OS X desktop.

    I would highly recommend postponing the purchase as long as possible to take advantage of the latest hardware updates.
  4. Kobaiyashi macrumors member

    Oct 16, 2005
    I'm in law school right now and I think our tech department forbids us from taking our exams on macs but I know a lot of people take notes using their ibooks or powerbooks.

    The exam software (windows based) we use is designed to lock you out of all other aspects of your computer (and from accessing the internet) thus I doubt virtuilization software such as Parralles would work having windows and the exam software running within a window would sorta defeat the whole purpose :) But if the department doesn't forbid getting macs, seems like all your daughter would need to do is use boot camp to run the software and all should be good. But I'd ask the tech department specifically what their stance is on that option before going forward.

  5. baby duck monge macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Feb 16, 2003
    Memphis, TN
    This is correct. Assuming the testing software were PC only (which the major one is, but some other softwares are not), you could only use a Mac if you were using a MacBook and booting directly into Window. That being said, you can always get an iBook and a very cheap PC laptop for her to take exams on, OR she could just write her exams by hand (if allowed by the school) and then not worry about it at all. The downside to that, of course, is that it's easier to write an exam on a computer for editing reasons (and she can most likely type faster than she can write).
  6. nbs2 macrumors 68030


    Mar 31, 2004
    A geographical oddity
    I take my last law school final on Wed (yipee!), and I fee like I have been lucky enough to see the changes at my school. We used to allow students to take exams on Macs using Virtual PC, but then after the school adopted a laptop program, they were banned. We can still take notes on whatever machine we want. I think that they would have had some serious issues if they tried to ban the use of Apple products in the school. I think that would have been the straw that would have broken my camels back. But, they do continue support of all PCs capable of running Exam4. You should be able to google them easily enough (I think it is

    For my exams, I have used my wife's laptop to take my exams. My first year, I relied on my old Vaio, but I lost the dongle for the ethernet cable - otherwise I wouldn't touch her machine. Like everybody else, I don't imagine that dual booting would pose a problem for the software. The question is if they are enlightened enough to understand Boot Camp. I have encountered too many IT morons in the field (IT at my last job I couldn't use Firefox b/c they have to use Windows to run a lot of their software). They may take issue with an Apple logo running Windows, but you never know. Worst case, I think you can use Win 98SE with Exam 4.

    Holy crap, I can't believe I took up that much space to say you should be ok, but double check and know that Win 98SE will be good enough if you can't use Boot Camp.
  7. topher macrumors member

    May 1, 2004
    I'm actually going to start law school this fall. So, as interested as I am to hear more feedback, I've also gathered some more info as well.

    Some schools expressly forbid it. Well...I doubt that they forbid owning a mac, but they require owning an XP based pc. So, you can buy the mac, but they might also make you own a windows machine.

    Other schools just won't support it. These schools usually use pretty strong language to get people into their camp, but they've probably had different thinkers in the recent past and know that it can be done...they just need you to know that they can't take responsibility for making it work.

    Some schools tie the purchase of a laptop into your Cost of Attendance. And, your cost of attendance is what your potential loan amounts are based on (i.e. you can only borrow up to your Cost of Attendance and still have them be considered "student loans"). In these cases...where you get an extra bump in loan amount to buy a laptop...I believe that they can force you to buy something that fits their requirements in order to receive the loan. Don't know if you're planning on paying cash for the machine, but if you're looking at using student loans for it, it might be necessary to fall into their camp.

    With regard to Boot Camp...forgive me, but it's still Beta. We're talking less than 7 months old by the time we start school. Not an enterprise level solution, not something I'd stake daily frustrations on...
  8. weldon macrumors 6502a


    May 22, 2004
    Denver, CO
    I found a blog entry that says that someone has successfully used Examsoft on a MacBook Pro using Boot Camp to run Windows.
  9. jaycrew macrumors member

    Aug 5, 2005
    At my law school we use Securexam and that supports both PCs and Macs. Although the IT department recommends and prefers that students use PCs, they support Macs as well. I think the ultimate question is whether the testing software your school uses supports Macs or not. You can take notes with anything, but you want to make sure you can type out your exams.
  10. tonyl macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2006
  11. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6
    Buy a MacBook Pro- that way you can have the best of both worlds. Just gotta love the ability to have Mac OS X and Windows on the same machine! :)
  12. inlimbo macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    hang on a minute! you guys get to do your exams on computers!!!! I knew Australia was a bit behind the technological band wagon - but I didn't realise we were that far behind! I don't understand how these programs work. Our exams are typically problem questions. i.e. you get a scenario with a plaintiff and a defendant and are asked to advise one or both parties. So is it the same for you (but u get to type it up?). We use this prehistorical thing called a pen and an exam book. :)

    The best thing about having a mac at law school is seeing all ur PC friends fighting over power-points to charge their laptops while I sit their recording the lecture without any wires. :D
  13. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6
    Same thing for me at my college. For the most part its pen/pencil and paper. but I have taken one or two exams on computer (could not use my iBook G4, had to use a Dell though). :)
  14. QCassidy352 macrumors G3


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    I am lucky enough that my law school has abandoned the use of those silly exam taking programs. Everyone just types exams in a Word template, and macs are allowed (and quite common). :D
  15. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I used to tell people just to get a PC, or borrow a friend's PC laptop for a day and get a Mac.

    Simply from posting here for so bloody long, I have learnt that some law schools use a testing software (don't know which one) that needs to boot directly into Windows, which means things like Virtual PC on a Mac wasn't good enough. This testing software required you to shut down and reboot. The software would sort of "take over" the booting process and not technically load up all of Windows. It used to boot up only what it needed from Windows, and left everything else "turned off."

    I've never used Boot Camp, so I don't know how it loads, and whether it can boot into Windows directly (ie: by default), or if you could run Windows without having OSX installed (which means that OSX doesn't have to be "turned on" before Windows can start up). However, be careful when people advise you that you can just dual boot because of Boot Camp, because if Windows doesn't boot up by default as the 1st option, I don't believe this Law testing software would have loaded.
  16. generik macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2005
    Regardless of how good their creds are, if the school forbids mac, vote with your wallets and switch to another educational institution! A degree from such a place is not worth the paper it is printed on anyway. If sufficient students are to do the same perhaps then they will realise the folly of adopting a "Windows only" policy on your customers and wake up from their f***ing ideas :)
  17. inlimbo macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    lol! Unfortunately a lot/most students use PCs. They have not seen the light as yet. :D
  18. HasanDaddy macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2002
    Los Angeles
    like others have said -

    buy a Mac that can DUAL boot

    otherwise - buy a G4 PB and get Virtual PC

  19. alywa macrumors 6502

    May 6, 2004
    Actually, do NOT buy the G4. The virtualization scheme won't work, at least it didn't for my wife. Go the dual boot route.

    The software she may be using is

    This is a horrible piece of software, but go ahead and download a copy for her to see what it does. Basically, it turns your computer into a wordprocessor, no access to anything else while it is on. No spellcheck, no grammar, etc.

    PC only, for some unknown reason.

  20. mmoin macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2001
    Basically, there are only two cases in which you'll need a PC- if the exam software is PC-only (Examsoft being one example), or if the school actually requires PC's (I think a few schools require you to purchase a specific laptop). For the former case, you can probably dual boot with an Intel Mac, but you might run into problems, because although the Mac can boot into Windows, the school might just not allow Macs on exams- a lot of schools don't because they'll assume you're using Virtual PC with Examsoft, which lets you cheat by using stuff from your mac os desktop.

    I'm a 1L, with Spring exams coming up, and I used my Powerbook for last semester's exams, and will be using it again this semester. At my school, we just type our exams in MS Word and then save them to a USB flash drive and hand that in.
  21. Michael7k thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 9, 2005
    Thank you for your insight and thoughts on the thread. Am I correct to assume you could utilize the Mac Book Pro for all work and a cheap PC for testing or use the dual boot with Windows on the MBP. Is the later option stable enough to be a viable option in law school?

    If your pc were used only for testing wouldn’t an inexpensive pc be sufficient? For those that utilize this scenario do you feel having your Mac for notes, Internet research, (spy ware, virus) and typing papers rather that using a pc full time has been beneficial to you?

    Again, thank you for your feedback as it will make the decision much easier.

    Michael Koenning
  22. jur1st macrumors newbie

    Feb 21, 2006
    Bootcamping with Examsoft

    Wow, some traffic to my humble little weblog. Right now it looks like you will be a bit of a renegade by using Bootcamp and Examsoft. We're lucky at my school to have a dedicated computer staff (read..not grad students who just know how to replace paper) who supports student computers.

    I'll be taking my exam this week on my MacBook and will let everyone know how it goes. This is probably the only time when it's actually important to run through the practice exam a few times to make sure that everything works.

    It's a good idea to make sure you format in NTFS so that you can make it clear to your sysadmin that there is no way to alter the test file between the end of the exam and uploading.

    Using parallels or VMware would probably either not work, or potentially get your ass busted for an honor code violation depending on how gunner some of the people at your school are.

    I'll post more updates after the exam. I'm really going to push Examsoft to sanction this before I take the Bar Exam in July. Without their go-ahead I doubt we'll be able to use it this year.
  23. blackstone macrumors regular

    Dec 12, 2005
    Washington, DC
    I'm going to chime in here, just noticed this thread. I'm a 2L right now and have been using my Powerbook as my "workhorse" computer, with a used IBM Thinkpad as my exam-taking computer. (My school uses Examsoft in secure mode.)

    Using a Mac for everyday work is very good
    The spyware issue is spot-on. Many of my classmates have serious problems with spyware taking over their computers -- but none of my Mac-using classmates do.

    Also, law students put a lot of stress on their computers -- carrying them around constantly, putting them to sleep and waking them up between every class, switching between different network environments... Macs handle all this flawlessly. PCs tend to have weird issues with it and often need to be rebooted before all the networking and power management works properly again.

    It's totally been worth it to me to have a Mac as my everyday computer.

    Parallels, Virtual PC, etc. are a bad idea for exam-taking
    It is a violation of the honor code to use any sort of virtual computing software, because it defeats the purpose of the "secure" exam-taking environment (Examsoft locks you out of all the other programs on your PC while you're taking the exam).

    It's too early to rely on dual-booting a MBP into Examsoft as your only solution

    Three reasons:
    (1) Boot Camp is still in beta, so it's not even officially supported by Apple. Not a good thing if you're relying on this feature for exams, given that they're 100% of your grade in law school!
    (2) I talked to my campus tech services about Boot Camp and Examsoft. They are aware of Boot Camp and guardedly optimistic about it, but will not allow it until Examsoft officially supports the use of Examsoft on dual-booted Macs (which, given Examsoft's Windows-fanboi-style hostility to Macs, may be never).
    (3) As has been mentioned above, ignorant proctors may mistake Macs running Boot Camp for Virtual PC and force you to write your exam by hand rather than let you use Boot Camp.
  24. desenso macrumors 6502a


    May 25, 2005
    Wow this has been a great thread. I'm getting ready to apply for law school and was totally planning to buy an MBP to last me through the next 4 years. I have an IBM ThinkPad which, I guess, I could dust off for exams if the policy at whatever school I attend is strict about their exams. Still, what a pity that they use software that wouldn't make a Mac version. As an undergrad, I'd say 30%+ of people who bring laptops to class use Apple computers. Strange.
  25. Michael7k thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 9, 2005
    Congrats on your first year and good luck on your exams. Thanks for the post and good luck!

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