Law School Laptop

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by alexanbd, Nov 27, 2007.

  1. alexanbd macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2007
    I am new, so my post is going to be long, but sincere.:eek:

    I am having trouble deciding what laptop would be the best buy for me for use in law school. I am planning on going to a school that is explicitly Mac-compatible.

    My decision is boiling down to:

    Mid-level Macbook or BlackBook


    HP zv2500t (14.1") or HP zv6500t (15.4")

    I have customized the HPs to be more comparable to the MacBooks (processor, HDD, RAM, battery, etc) and they come within $150 of each other when anticipating the Education Discount, or the possibility of purchasing a refurb. Ranging from $1000-1250.

    I currently have an HP zv5000t that has been a good machine. I am thinking that the 13.3" or 14.1" form-factors would be better for portability. Does anyone have experience comparing these two machines or suggestions relating to law school software for exams/testing (again, the school is explicitly Mac-compatible)?

  2. DeaconGraves macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I just started law school this year, so I'll share my experiences. I've been a PC user for most of my life but bought a 15" MBP for law school.

    Specs wise, any of your options will run whatever you need, so you're fine there. As far as portability goes, there are times where I wish I had a smaller notebook. There's a lot of books to lug around, and you don't have a ton of desk space when you're in class. That being said, I personally wanted a larger screen for any time I was outside of class, so that played a large factor into my decision.

    As far a law school software goes, I recommend OmniOutliner for note taking (I played around with Circus Ponies' Notebook for a while but didn't like their printing options or how all my notes would be in one file). I know a few people who use Mori, and of course there's Word or Pages (but I can't stand using a word processor for notes). One advantage Windows might have is that there are a handful of database systems built specifically for law students (Aspen Studydesk) that you might want to use.

    My school uses Extegrity for the exam taking software, which actually has a Mac version. Check to see what program your school offers. They might say their mac compatible, but that might just mean that the network is mac-friendly but you'll have to boot up the exam software in Boot Camp.

    One quick last resource: is a blog that does writeups for software that's useful for organizing/time management, etc.

    I'm going to be biased here and say get a mac. :cool: But in reality it comes down to taste. My only suggestion would be that if you do switch to Mac, do so a few months before you head to school. The learning curve isn't that bad, but you have enough adjusting to do when you get there to be worried about learning how your new computer works.
  3. mac000 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 6, 2005
    mac's run windows . problem solved

    get what you can afford
  4. corranroh macrumors newbie

    Jan 23, 2006
    Buy a MacBook

    I am currently in law school and I have never had an issue using a Mac (MacBook w/2GB RAM). Although our school is far from "Mac friendly," our exam software is compatible with Macs. Additionally, with Parallels and/or Boot Camp you won't have to worry about any other compatibility issues. In the 2+ years I've been in law school I've seen at least 10 people happily switch to Macs from Windows (for the same reasons that most people switch).

    Hope this helps.
  5. jnc macrumors 68020


    Jan 7, 2007
    Nunya, Business TX
    Get a MacBook - you can't risk your computer going "blipbeepbleep" and devouring your paper :D

    A lot of people seem to consider a Mac as 'overkill' for academic subjects, but I enjoy using Macs, and take Law, that's my own business! :p
  6. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    What does "explicitly mac compatible" mean?

    I'm at a law school that had the good sense to do away with that examsoft nonsense a few years ago, so now tests are just taken in a blank document in word. TONS of people have macs.

    Basically, you've been explicitly told by your law school that you can use a mac, and you've come to a mac board asking for advice. Of course you're going to get people saying to get the mac. (not saying that advice is wrong, but did you think there was any chance people were going to tell you to get the HP?)

    Word in notebook view works brilliantly for me.
  7. corranroh macrumors newbie

    Jan 23, 2006
    Chances are you won't find anyone with any Mac law school horror stories on an HP/Windows forum. At least here you might find someone with a "negative" Mac experience.
  8. davidwarren macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2007
    3L mac user here. I just got a macbook this fall. My school is pretty mac friendly, we use exam4 now, previously used securexam. With both programs, it has been my experience that generally at least two people will have to take their laptops to the computer tech people during an exam because something has gone wrong. Those people have all had windows computers. I'm not saying that the mac's run the software better, just that I have never seen anyone have a problem during an exam. I would say that between 20-25% of my classmates use a mac, so there is a good number of users. Other than that, there is not advantage to use a windows computer that I know of, so use what you like.
  9. DeaconGraves macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Take it easy on the newbie. I think this forum does a pretty good job of getting past rampant fanboyism and have seen plenty of people recommend PCs in certain situations.
  10. BuckWright macrumors member

    Sep 15, 2004

    examsoft is pathetic. forces me to use computer lab for my exams...
  11. janitorC7 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 10, 2006
    North Hollywood, CA
    I would LOVE to know how you use OMNI for your Notes??
  12. jlwillia macrumors regular

    Jun 28, 2007
    Examsoft - Softtest

    I'm a 1L with a Windows laptop on its last leg. My first law school exams are next week and my law school uses Examsoft software which does NOT currently have a Mac version (or so I'm told anyway). However, as I stated earlier my laptop is on it's last leg and will be buying a black Macbook in late Dec/early Jan for next semester. I'll have to keep my Windows machine around for next semesters' exams, but I'm told that Examsoft is coming out with a Mac version of Softtest this summer.

    At any rate, even if there is not a Mac version I don't see why you couldn't use Bootcamp and run the Windows version. However, that might require buying a copy of Windows (usually you can convince your university's IT dept. to install a copy of XP for cheap or free).

    At any rate, it's all about preference. Don't let any Mac snob tell you that you're crazy if you choose the Windows machine, and don't let any Mac-hater convince you that a Windows laptop is somehow better for law school.
  13. benlee macrumors 65816


    Mar 4, 2007
    I second everything DeaconGraves said. I too have a 15" MBP as a 1L.

    I use OmniOutliner Pro and it is wonderful.

    You can use it in any way that serve your needs, but I have found that having 1 outline per class works best. So all my cases, reading, and class notes are together and I can hide whatever I don't need. Find also works great. Right now, since it is close to finals, I have been consolidating my outline into something more manageable for studying and OOP is working out great. It takes a little while to get used to and to learn the tricks but its very helpful.

    check out for how Erik (the wonderful site creator) and others use it. Then test it out for free to see if you like it.
  14. theotherguy macrumors member

    Oct 16, 2007
    MacBook & advise.

    Get a MacBook, probably the mid model for the DVD burner and then buy 2GB RAM on a single card so you'll have 2.5BG. Remember the make/model of the RAM you get so you can hold the option of getting a matched pair in the future if you need it. I have found that I don't need more memory & I have about 8 programs running all the time. I would venture about 40% of the students here (NYU) have macs & a relatively accurate snap-judgement can be formed by the type of computer you use in Law School (generally the pricks are opening up Dells every morning & are cursing at Word or some newer MS product that is suppose to be quite good for if you can figure out how to use it).

    I use OmniOutliner everyday (live in it) for typing black letter during studying and jotting down one-liners from casebooks. Also I record important lecture excerpts with it and load up the shuffle to listen to while biking. I have found it to be the most useful piece of software. I also use omnigraffle for diagramming complex litigation and lived in it last year in Kontracts & Civ-Pro. Additionally I use Mori for landmark/weird cases I brief. This all comes in very handy during exams, when you know the term and just have to do a command-f search for it. Saves a ton of time during exam writing- gets you A's.

    Other suggestions: Get a scanner and just get into the habit of scanning everything that is handed to you and organize it somehow (Brother MFC 7820N is recommended, can get it for #150 @ Staples refurb). I use Yojimbo & it's excellent. A little slow for searching as your files get numerous, but worth waiting for. Also writeroom is bar-non the best for brief, memo, and LR. I use Pages, but I feel kind of dumb for paying it because I could very well just use textedit (you won't do a lot of writing papers in school, under 40 pages 1L)- although this is probably because I use Omni-group software for anything else. *hint: use the "read text" function in Leopard to read back your answers, memorandums, briefs, since you probably won't be permitted to have someone edit for you.

    Good luck on finals.
  15. Jon'sLightBulbs macrumors 6502a

    Jan 31, 2005
    Make sure the bar exam in the state where you plan to practice can be administered on a Mac laptop. For example, in California, the bar exam can't be administered on a Mac. So even if your school is Mac friendly and you purchase the Macbook, you may be stuck having to borrow a PC laptop after your third year for the bar exam. I'd definitely check.
  16. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    My school uses ExamSoft, and it works perfectly fine when booted into Windows.

    Off topic: **** law school. You really sure you want to go to one?
  17. Am3822 macrumors 6502


    Aug 16, 2006
    Groningen, The Netherlands
    very off topic

    What is this 'exam taking software' you're all talking about?
  18. jnc macrumors 68020


    Jan 7, 2007
    Nunya, Business TX
    I think it's a USA thing.
  19. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007

    You can always run windows with BootCamp, or in Mac OS with VMWare or Parallels.

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