Mac Set-Up for Law School - Help!


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 7, 2012
Hello everyone, I would love to get some advice on the following topic... I am starting law school in the fall, and I am planning on getting a new Mac (or a new Mac set up) to get me through those three years of ****. Here's a little bit about me first so you guys can see where I'm coming from -

1. I've been using an old school macbook for the past 4 years and enjoy it, although run out of space (lots of photos)
2. I have a external hard drive I could probably use (not mac brand, but still compatible)
3. I don't plan on gaming on my desktop, and these computers would be used mainly for school work/ word processing/outlining/etc.
4. I'd like to have a big screen so I can visually see me outlines and notes.
5. I'd like something lightweight to carry with me.

Here are the options I have come up with for a mac set up, let me know what you guys think -

Op 1. MacBookPro 13in Thunderbolt = $2349 750GB Storage

Op 2. MacBookAir 11in/64gb IMac (500GB) = $2200 500GB Storage w/ 64gb flash

Op 3. MacBook Air 11in/128gb IMac (500GB) = $2400 500GB Storage w/ 128gb flash

Op 4. MacBook Air 11in/64gb IMac (1TB) = $2500 1TB Storage w/ 64gb flash

Op 5. Macbook Air 11in/128gb IMac (1TB) = $2700 1TB Storage w/ 128gb flash

Yes I'm nerdy and worked this all out... I told you I'm going to law school!
Anyways, I really dont know how any of these machines would respond well with eachother or talk to eachother. Basically, I want it to be as easy as possible to get everything synced and matched up, I plan on bringing my computer with me to every class, and would like it if I could use the bigger screen at home for studying/notes.

A few questions -
Will Air sync w/ iMac automatically?
Is Air "flash" faster than macbook pro for classroom on/off use? Battery life longer?
How much "flash storage" do you really need on a macbook air?

Sorry for such a long post - I'd really appreciate any help anyone has on this. Going for convenience here!


macrumors newbie
Mar 7, 2012
I'd go a different route

Hello everyone, I would love to get some advice on the following topic... I am starting law school in the fall, and I am planning on getting a new Mac (or a new Mac set up) to get me through those three years of ****.

I went through law school with a middle 15" Macbook pro which, at the time, was the titanium. I wouldn't necessarily go with any of your choices.

First, lucky no longer need to purchase a junker PC craptop for exams because unlike when I went to school (Fall 06 JD, Spring 07 CA Bar), there is now Examsoft for macs. You'll be using Examsoft a lot so this is great. I used to have a $250 craigslist special just for exams and the Bar but recently I took the California appellate specialists exam on my MBP 15.

Second, purchase through the apple education store. Save a couple hundred bucks. Every penny you save now is a nickel you aren't going to be paying back in student loans and believe me, even if you're lucky and get a job with a nice salary right out of law school those loans will bleed you. I'm lucky, my loan payments are only $550 a month but I know some lawyers laying down twice and three times that every month before they pay for anything else.

Third, why are you buying two machines? A Macbook pro can do everything you want and you can use it on the couch, the bed, at the library, with your study group, in court, in class, at Starbucks and so on. I don't know any law students who used two machines.

You'd be a lot better off spending some of that money on more RAM, a time capsule for your backups (extreme + external is even cheaper), an external monitor (I never did, not portable) and a good black and white laser (I never had a printer, just used the law library). Get yourself a tough case too because your macbook pro is going to get banged up over the next several years (you said three but you forgot the months you'll be studying for the Bar exam with no income at all).

Once you've got your machine you'll need might have its flaws but everyone else will be using it.

Do yourself a favor however and do NOT take notes with Word...take notes with OmniOutliner and get yourself a copy of OmniGraffle while you're at it. With OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle you will be unstoppable. You can then take the super clean outlines that Outliner produces and spit out beautiful flow charts. You can also use graffle to flow chart things that don't make much sense civ pro and crim pro. I had professors ask to use my graffles as class handouts (no thanks, i'm on a curve with these people, you can have it after the final for your next class).


macrumors 68000
Mar 5, 2011
I'd say either go MBP or MBA with a Thunderbolt Display (TBD)

There's no point in getting two machines. If you went MBP, you could go for a solid state drive, which will give you speed of an MBA, or you could go higher storage, which will be a benefit over an MBA, or you could replace the Superdrive with a hard drive and do an SSD+HDD configuration and have speed and storage.

If you just went MBA, you could just go 128GB or 256GB, then have your external plugged into the TBD at all times, as a nice little docking station.

Personally, I'd got MBA, but I have MBA fever :p

Good luck with law school!


macrumors 6502a
Sep 21, 2005
Reject Beach
I vote for a MBA (and probably the 13") and separate external display. If you don't really need two computers, why bother with hassle and expense? MBAs are quite popular at my law school.


macrumors 6502
May 10, 2010
The small screen choices are not good ones. You will be doing a lot of reading and writing, and will not want to be hunched over a small screen for hours on end. The suggestion of a 13 inch MBA or MBP and an external monitor sounds right.


macrumors 6502
Feb 25, 2011
Dresden, Germany
  • MacBook Air (13 inch)
  • Thunderbolt Display
That would be what I'd buy now. Back then, I decided to buy a 27 inch iMac what I now sometimes regret. Saving money for a MacBook Air now. :)


macrumors 68040
May 3, 2011
as a graduate student, i mainly rely on my ipad (reading and writing) while on campus. of course, i have an mbp at home, but that is for heavy lifting. the ipad is more than enough for most of my daily tasks. installing evernote, pages, and those kinds of cloud-friendly apps will make it sing. ten hours or so of battery life, not to mention the pleasure of reading journal articles on the ipad, makes it at least worth a thought.

Mike Valmike

macrumors 6502a
Feb 27, 2012
Chandler, Arizona
I vote for a MBA (and probably the 13") and separate external display. If you don't really need two computers, why bother with hassle and expense? MBAs are quite popular at my law school.
ASU Law Class of '07.

One potential problem is that many law schools use SofTest to administer exams electronically in a manner that meets ABA requirements. And SofTest doesn't run in OS X.

I suggest a MBP with enough storage that you won't mind running a bootcamp partition of Windows 7 (or XP SP2 if you can find it). And you have to do this because SofTest starts from a partial boot in order to lock you out of being able to run test-assisting software (or anything else). VMWare or Parallels won't cut it.

Perhaps all these law students with MBAs are taking their exams handwritten. That's fine, and the grading takes it into account. It's up to student preference. I just don't see how you could get an MBA and have enough storage to keep a bootcamp partition of Windows 7 around.

If your school doesn't use SofTest, knock yourself out.


macrumors newbie
Mar 9, 2012
I say this with love in my heart, and I apologize if it's off-topic. My SO attended one of the very best law schools in the country, and it was a huge mistake.

Please think carefully about this decision.

Know that employment and salary statistics are nigh-universally "manipulated", to put it gently. There are several lawsuits ongoing
at this moment. Huge numbers of new lawyers *never practice law*. Many others work for $35-$40k/yr. If you attend a law school outside of the top 10 or 20, you have an extremely high chance of ending up unemployed or making terrible money given the cost of school. Even if you attend a very good school, only about 1/3 of the class will get the highly-paid jobs unless you are at Yale, Harvard, or Stanford.

Know that the life and work of a lawyer is very often miserable. It is not glamorous, and it isn't even that well paid for the number of hours you'll work, which if you are well-paid will include 60hr+ weeks and late-night and weekend work routinely. And the stress is incredible. You're dealing with people at the worst of times, and your colleagues and superiors really aren't people you want to have anything to do with. Superiors are routinely verbally abusive. You're also under constant pressure to bill, to record your time, and those who can't put in 60-70hr weeks are likely to be unemployed before long.

Know that educational loans are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy and the interest rate is around 8%. $160k in loans + 3 years lost potential wages = $300k+ for this degree. A huge number of lawyers leave the profession within 5 years as well, rendering that investment worthless.

Know that those three years of your life are valuable, and could be spent learning and doing other things, better, more interesting, more valuable things.

But if you really must go, get a Macbook Pro + a nice big external monitor and input devices. It's a great combination.