MBA for Law School- Yes or No? 13 or 11?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by erialvzz805, May 8, 2012.

  1. erialvzz805 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #1
    Hello, I will be attending law school in the Fall and I'm wondering if there are any law school students who have a MBA, and if they feel you need a different computer for whatever reason. Thanks
     
  2. JasonR macrumors 6502a

    JasonR

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    Nov 11, 2008
    #2
    My uncle is a lawyer and has both an iMac and a Macbook Air. I think a Macbook Air would suit your needs just fine. You can install Windows if you absolutely need it as well.
     
  3. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #3
    first question is this: Is the Mac compatible with the software that you need to run? If the school requires certain applications, make sure that Mac will run those.
     
  4. erialvzz805 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 15, 2011
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    Los Angeles, CA
    #4
    Yes I checked the school's tech requirements and the Mac is compatible. If I really need to, I can install Windows, and I have a Windows laptop already. I'm more concerned about memory/ram, and if the 11" is too small for the work I will be doing.
     
  5. radicalcentrist macrumors member

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    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #5
    I'm not an attorney, but I do a lot of reading of legal documents and writing, and after owning both the 11 and the 13, I'd lean toward the 13. I appreciate the extra screen real estate when I'm traveling. If you're just going to be typing notes in class and then hooking it up to an external monitor, either would work great.
     
  6. erialvzz805 thread starter macrumors member

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    #6
    Thanks. did you have to return your 11 when you realized it was too small?
     
  7. TurretOperetta macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2012
    #7
    Concerning the 11in vs 13in, The best thing you can do is to go to an Apple retail store and spend a while messing around with both sizes. It can also help you determine which specs would be sufficient for whatever you'll end up doing.
     
  8. shecallsmeFIN macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    #8
    I just finished my second year of law school and here's my two cents:

    I have a time capsule in my apartment (1TB), and an 11" MBA with a 128 gb hd. This has proven to be more than enough to store my notes, my pdfs and my emails. Each year I have gotten into the habit of cleaning out all but the basic documents I need to keep with me (no reason to delete your notes full-stop, but you really won't need to bring them with you in subsequent years), and I have never run into problems with my hard drive space. I don't keep all my music on my MBA (I just stream from my time capsule), so if I want to listen on the go I just use my iPhone. Same goes with the bulk of my photos (though my wife insists that I keep our wedding album and some from our recent trips on the computer just so "we" can look at them no matter where we find ourselves). All in all, no problems.

    The biggest thing I will say though: every ounce you save on your laptop (even between the 11 and 13 models) you will appreciate over time. Your text books will be cumbersome, and you cannot "shrink" them. Go small on the laptop if you can, and when you are a "lawyer" someday, invest in a nice iMac or something to play around on at home.
     
  9. erialvzz805 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 15, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #9
    Great insight thank you. Do you ever wish you would have the 13" because of the screen size? Also I'm assuming Time Capsule is an exterior hard drive where you save your music/photos?
     
  10. ooans macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2011
    #10
    I have a 11" and I've been happy with it.

    However, when using some software which have multiple windows (such as Logic, Photoshop, Final Cut) I often wish the resolution would be a tad higher.
     
  11. M0esmac macrumors 6502a

    M0esmac

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    For me, 11" is really small even to browse the net. I'd love to have 13" instead of that.
     
  12. lamboman, May 8, 2012
    Last edited: May 8, 2012

    lamboman macrumors 6502

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    Aug 13, 2011
    #12
    Best bet is honestly to take a look in the store. Take a look at the MacBook Pro 13" as well, if you have bad eyes like myself you'll prefer the display (and you may prefer its keyboard).

    If you're going to be spending a lot of time in your room working, you might want to consider an external display and keyboard/mouse/trackpad. Only you can really decide what your workflow will be like, so it's really worth going to the store and taking a long hard look at everything.

    The Time Capsule is basically an AirPort Extreme with an internal drive. It can be used as network storage as well as backup for your system. If you want a reliable all-in-one unit for this purpose, it's a great investment. The 3TB one isn't quite as good value as the 2TB (which is frankly incredible value).

    Please, please, I beg, set up Time Machine to back up your system, but also use a service like Dropbox (in fact, I'll go as far to say Dropbox in particular) to keep your data backed up in the cloud. It's easy, it's always on the fly, and it works extremely well.

    Alternatively, you could use a cheaper router (or even a wired connection through Thunderbolt if you go for a Thunderbolt display) and use an external USB drive (again through the Thunderbolt display). It really depends on your setup as to how cost effective each solution will be.
     
  13. erialvzz805 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 15, 2011
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    Los Angeles, CA
    #13
    Thanks for that. I know for sure I will need a backup system so I'll be looking at Time Machine. I also know I'll be studying at lot in the library and taking my computer to class every day, so the more portable the better. I guess I can't go wrong with either the 13 or the 11. I'll have to check them out in the store.
     
  14. theotherguy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    #14
    go 11 and get a cheap monitor

    Having finished law school with the 13 white macbook & then the 11 air when the old macbook died, I would say get the 11 macbook air. It's small, light, does everything you need and won't break your back.

    Also, get a monitor to plug it into when you get home. I have a 20 inch apple screen (was given to me), but go cheap. It is very helpful to have Westlaw/Lexis open on one side of the screen & your Law Review article you'll be writing on the same page.
     
  15. erialvzz805 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 15, 2011
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    Los Angeles, CA
    #15
    True. I had not thought about an external display for home. Now hopefully the new MBA comes out before August.
     
  16. cmChimera macrumors 68040

    cmChimera

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    #16
    The screen size is largely a matter of preference but I would definitely recommend 4gb of RAM. You'll have a lot of stuff open while researching or taking notes, or studying. I'm about to start my 3rd and final year, good luck! What school if you don't mind me asking?
     
  17. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #17
    I am a 1L (in Boston) that comes to this site to get away from exams :-/

    I have the i7 13" MBA. I went with the i7 because with the student discount, it was only $60 more than the 256GB mode, and I decided that 128GB would not be enough. I figured for $60, why not. It might eventually get me more than $60 if I resell it in a few years.

    Regarding screen size, I second everyone else's opinion that you should go to a store and see for yourself. What I would do, find an 11" and a 13" side by side, open up a common website in both and full-screen the site on both. And take note of how much more the 13" shows vertically. Scroll all the way to the top on both, note what is on the bottom of the screen on the 11", and compare that on the 13" the same thing is more like 3/4 of the way down. This is important for taking notes, as you don't want to scroll up and down often to find the note you need. On the flip side, when lugging this thing around often, every ounce counts.

    4GB or 2GB shouldn't even be a question. With the savings to go down to 2GB are not worth it considering that you plan to own this for 3 years, right?

    I also second the external monitor. Having dual monitors has definitely helped me both for writing (having Word and Lexis/West open side by site) and outlining (having Word and Evernote open side by side). However, if you want to save a bit, go with a cheap monitor. I have an older 19" dell LCD and it's fine for authoring text, which is all I use it for. Also, get the miniDisplayPort adapters at monoprice.com instead of the apple store.


    Suggested Apps for Law School:

    - Dropbox / Skydrive / Amazon Cloud
    Store your documents, case PDFs, practice exams, etc. in the cloud and keep them well organized. You might have to access them from a friends computer, a classroom computer, or a library computer. This helps with that. Also, it's a great way to backup your files. Note that iCloud doesn't quite cut it in this department.

    - Evernote
    I explored with taking notes in Word with the notebook layout, and various other OS X note taking apps (Journal, Flow, Notebook, others I can't remember). Evernote took a few days to get used to, but it was well worth it. I took lots and lots of class notes, and never even came close to using 10% of the monthly 60mb allotment of the free account. Again, having your notes live in the cloud is very handy. The key though is tags and search. Having my notes searchable is awesome for studying and building outlines. Being able to organize the class notes by tagging the various topics is also great for staying organized and being able to find exactly what you're looking for.
     
  18. erialvzz805 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #18
    Great post. Thanks. I dont want my laptop to be a burden as i lug it around everywhere, but at the same time I dont want to be struggling when searching in my notes. I'll look into the student discounts and see what type of discount I get.
     
  19. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    #19
    I've tried both the 13 and 11, and for me the 11" is way better. Sure it has a bit smaller screen, but not much. Just place the dock on the left or right side and you have about as much vertical space as a 13":er - it doesn't feel cramped at all. Also, the 11" is much more portable if you ask me. The difference in size is quite noticeable if you bring it everywhere.

    The main disadvantage, if you ask me, is that the 11" doesn't have as big battery. I'd say realistically 3-4 hours of working, more if you just take notes and let s the screen power down while listening to lectures and such. But the 13" will last a bit longer, there's no denying that. I have access to power outlets on most places I move to though, so I use it on battery for 1-2 hours at a time, then plug it in, and so on. So battery time doesn't really matter either.

    I also own a desktop computer that I use at home (iMac). It's quite nice to use a large screen when sitting longer periods. I'd recomment either an iMac for home use, or getting an external monitor/keyboard/mouse to plug in. Typing long papers on an 11" isn't great, to be honest :)
     
  20. jj48 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #20
    This. If you're getting the 11" it will pretty much become a necessity to have an external monitor or separate desktop to work on. I've got the 13" and it's great for going through notes for work.
     
  21. erialvzz805 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 15, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #21
    So I would just have to "toughen" it out and work off the 11" while on campus, away from home.
     
  22. daonesteven macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    #22
    just finished my final exams today to finish my 1L year. I had the black macbook that was in great condition and something I intended to use throughout law school but realized I need a light load. Got a 11" mba and it's great and I love it, but I have to admit that if I could go back in time and have the option of re-deciding, I'd get the 13" because the bigger screen estate and better battery life is worth it imho for the slightly bigger size/weight
     
  23. shinobi-81 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2012
    #23
    You should consider the 13" if you don't have proper access to an external monitor. As for computing power, 11" should be enough.

    Good luck with your studies, by the way.
     
  24. wskitche macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2008
    #24
    I'm in practice now, but I would absolutely go with the MBA for law school. You want something rugged and it needs to be light enough to take everywhere but large enough for you to comfortably type notes on in class, while you are studying, etc. For me, that means the 13" all the way.

    I wouldn't rely on having an external monitor to justify an 11". Part of law school is the social experience of studing with friends - you'll want something to take with you to the library, coffee shops, etc. (again, for me, that means 13"). You still may need an external monitor when you are pulling together outlines at the end of the semesters - the extra real estate helps.

    Don't skimp. You will live on the thing and take it everywhere - its worth buying high quality and exactly what you want.

    I bought a hot new thinkpad when I was going - it was the MBA of its age - thin, durable and great looking. I did not regret it.
     
  25. fsu06, May 8, 2012
    Last edited: May 8, 2012

    fsu06 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    #25
    Recent law school graduate here. Some people may be able to stand the 11" but I would absolutely recommend the 13" macbook air.

    Someone said it's worth the difference in weight because books will weigh so much. Seriously!? You aren't hiking cross-country with it.

    Nearly any time you plan on carrying your computer you are going to be carrying at least one 4+ pound book. That half a pound you save on the 11" macbook air will mean nothing in the scheme of things. On the other hand, the two inches of real estate will be a godsend. You will really appreciate it when you have to read large quantities of text on your computer, subcite for journal work, or write memos/motions/etc. Not to mention the increased battery.

    Unless you plan on buying an iMac as well, I strongly recommend the 13" MBA.

    TL : DR
    13" for sure. The reading in law school wrecks enough havoc on your eyes already.
     

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