Weeks went into choosing between available programs for my apple macbook to carry on my law practice (in Canada). I have been asked by a number of lawyers for a list, so thought that I would share it here:
1. Daylite: for organizing files (and clients). It integrates with Mail for mac, so that whenever an email comes in from a client, the email is automatically saved to the client’s file. Very highly recommended.
2. Billings: integrates with Daylite to allow for easy invoicing.
3. Simply Accounting: Billings is great, but it only keeps track of client related expenses and revenue. A full accounting software program is needed to, e.g., keep track of shareholder loans, dividends, trust accounting etc. (US lawyers have more programs to choose from.)
4. Fusion: it is not always easy being a mac user. Simply Accounting is only available for PC. As such, I am running a puppet-like PC on my mac through Fusion. (Note that Simply Accounting won’t let you save your data to your “mac”, but instead only allows you to save within the puppet. For this reason, I use Karen’s Replicator to schedule backups of this data from within my “pc” to my mac.)
5. Eagle Filer: is an incredible database program for my files. If I click F1 while viewing a webpage, word document or email, it is saved to my database in a folder called ‘To be filed’. When I get free time, I move the unfiled docs to the proper file. I am very impressed with the robustness of this program. (It will work in conjunction with a Mac me account to allow for synced access [and email using Mobile Files] of your files on your iphone.)
6. PDFPenPro: is essential for working with pdf documents (including adding a digital signature for letters without having to print) in a paperless office. It has been useful, but its text recognition abilities so far have been disappointing.
7. Hotdocs: is a very good document automation software program (which runs on my fusion”pc”).
8. Microsoft office: unfortunately Hotdocs needs microsoft office, which means that I have had to purchase microsoft office both for my mac and also for my puppet ‘pc’ on my mac. Essentially this has doubled my costs and is a major set back to using a mac with Hotdocs. (It is worth it to me though).
Other programs that didn’t work for me but were interesting and might work for others: Freshbooks (based in Toronto – I would have used it if it had the accounting features of Simply Accounting or if I was not a sole practitioner), Notebook, and Rocket Matter. I found these posts very useful in my search: Grant Griffiths and Ben Stevens.
Update [March 31, 2013]
I now use xero accounting (and love it – strongly recommend against simply accounting now; no need for billings now), daylite for client management, devonthinkpro for database (I love eaglefiler, but it got sluggish when I started to accumulate files), hotdocs/fusion and PDFpenpro.