Legal trends

Best Laptop For Lawyers: 2020 Buyers Guide

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Reviews of the Best Laptops of 2020 to Buy for Your Small Law Firm

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What to look for when evaluating a law firm’s technology: LeanLaw knows that it’s important to balance the needs of the attorney with technology costs. Whether it’s hardware or legal management software, LeanLaw will base our #1 recommendation on your best fit – along with two to three more options to consider.

When buying new laptops for your small law practice or mid market law firm, there are so many choices, it’s hard to know where to begin. Spending to increase productivity within your law firm is a sound investment, but you want to make sure you purchase the right hardware – and not over or under purchase.

In this post, we’re going to geek out and provide some very technical specifications of what you should look for in a laptop AS WELL AS give you some suggestions of actual laptops we like so that you can just cut to the chase.

Technical specs:

Processor: At least an 8th generation i5 or i7. Don’t get too hung up on the processor as it is the least important of your components. Anything in these classes will be sufficient for your needs.

RAM: Minimum of 16 Gigs. You can get by with 8 GB, but more RAM will equal more longevity. You’re buying the RAM for future performance. RAM is what keeps all the apps on your computer active. Less RAM means more drain on other resources. Which means a slower running computer.

Hard Drive: Only get a Solid State Drive (SSD). Ideally, it won’t be a hybrid drive. This is where the vendor puts an 8 gig SSD for the operating system and adds a 500 GB or larger drive for data. To the user is appears as one drive. 256 GB is the new low end. If your budget affords it, upgrade to 512 GB. This gives you future flexibility.

Touch Screen: Given how we interact with our phones and tablets, a touch screen can be very handy. Touch is normalized and Windows is getting far more “app” minded. We have found that adding the additional interface really comes in handy. It’s a nice to have, not a need to have.

Video Card: Ideally, the card will have dedicated graphics. For your needs, the vendor isn’t that critical. AMD and NVIDIA are good brands. Also, you need to pay attention to the adapters relative to the inputs of your monitor. Most new video cards come with Display Port as the video adapter. This means that you would need a new monitor cable. Something like Display Port to DVI. Make sure you verify so that you can purchase the cable online vs. at a local store where they will gouge you on price.

If you don’t want to be so DIY, below are a few different machines that we like and might suit your needs.

Best Ultra-Portable

Our Pick: Dell XPS

Dell makes four primary lines of laptops worth paying attention to: Inspiron (consumer lower end), Latitude (business grade), XPS (business and consumer high end) and Precision (business high end). The XPS line has gotten rave reviews and it’s their higher end consumer/business grade laptop. This line will be lighter and have better components. If you are in the market for a Windows 10 laptop, the XPS line is worth the investment. Three considerations.

  • Make sure you get a SSD drive.
  • Make sure you get at least 16 gigs of RAM. More is better.
  • Get the Pro Support warranty. I like three years. Pro Support cuts to the chase and gets you the best techs Dell has.

Dell offers Next Business day “Pro” onsite support. This means you’re dealing with Dell’s North American tech support team and if they diagnose something wrong with the hardware of the system they will send a tech to you. Other vendors will force you to mail it to them. This is a slow and very disruptive process.

Runner-Up: ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo is making great technology and the X1 is one of their better machines. It’s light, powerful and well equipped. The only knock is that it comes with a lot of Lenovo software that has to be maintained and they don’t quite have as robust of a warranty service department as Dell.

This easily could be considered just as nice as the Dell. It’s subjective. Be sure to get the upgraded support from Lenovo. The basic support is called Depot, which means you have to mail the unit to them. The enhanced support works similar to Dell’s where you interact with their Atlanta based support group and if the hardware is in question, they will send someone to your location.

  • Make sure you get a SSD drive.
  • Make sure you get at least 16 gigs of RAM. More is better.

Runner-Up: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

A 3rd option that has crept into the business tech landscape is the new line of laptops and tablet/laptops from Microsoft. The Surface Pro 7 continues to be an excellent choice for those users looking for ultra mobility. The Surface Laptop excels at being a highly powerful laptop and being very light weight. One consideration is that Microsoft doesn’t have the service offering that brings techs to you if something goes wrong. You have to head into a Microsoft store. This should be a consideration as you compare the Surface Laptop to the Dell and Lenovo.

ChromeBooks

Our Pick: Google Pixel Book Go

Google Pixel Book Go is the top of the line Chromebook. It is also one of the more expensive devices. It’s worth the expense if this will be a primary work machine. If you’re just looking for a second, kick-around/check email machine, then the Asus below will make sense. You’re paying for the upgraded form-factor, tight integration with Google and the componentry. This is a departure from Google’s previous Pixel Chromebooks. The Pixel Book Go is a more mainstream, cost effective device. It still stands above the rest of the market.

Runner-Up: Asus Chromebook Flip

The Asus Chromebook Flip, and and it’s a viable alternative to the Pixel Book Go mentioned above. It is an excellent high end touch-enabled device that works perfectly. It’s just not as elegant as the Pixel device and doesn’t have the name Google on it.

Standard Business Laptop

Our Pick: Lenovo ThinkPad T470

While the X1 is the ultraportable, this ThinkPad is a great machine. Great features but will be heavier than the Carbon series. It also costs a lot less.

Dell makes the Precision, a great machine, but the Lenovo gets the edge. 

The Precision has fantastic components, but it may be overkill for a lawyer. If you like a larger machine and want a “hot rod,” this is a nice choice. It is heavier, but it does have the 15″ screen.

Runner-Up: Apple MacBook Pro

Be sure to invest in 16 gigs of ram and a 512 hard drive. It will offer more longevity. Also, you HAVE to get Apple Care. You’ll be sorry if you don’t.

If you would like us to tailor our advice for you in particular, we can select a few different laptops for you and explain how each would suit your law practice needs. LeanLaw would send you the link for purchase – it’s that easy. Purchase assistance is just one of the many benefits of a LeanLaw membership.

When you consider how to manage your legal tech for your small or solo law practice, consider engaging LeanLaw. You’ll receive this kind of thoughtful, curated-for-you advice in addition to our robust timekeeping and billing software. Give us a call / email / IM at LeanLaw. Our mission is to help you have a lean law practice: efficient and cost effective.

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