In the Windows world, many lawyers try to use Outlook alone as a practice management solution. They soon discover that it is insufficient for that purpose. Only true practice management software that lets you organize information by matter rather than contact (Outlook's most significant limitation) will truly help you reach maximum efficiency.
On the Mac side, practice management options are mostly web-based - Clio, ActionStep, and Rocket Matter, being some of the best-known players. There are also a couple of desktop-based Mac programs that can be adapted to a law firm - Daylite and REDI Office. The desktop programs, especially Daylite, have the distinct advantage of being able to integrate with programs you are already using. But, practice management aside, one of the facts I like to mention is that you can almost always get more out of what you already own. In this month’s column, let’s talk email on the Mac.
The default email application on the Mac is Mail, sometimes referred to as “Mail.app” (useful if you’re doing a web search to help you solve a problem). As with Outlook on Windows, Mail on the Mac plays the role not only of sending and receiving email, but also that of a hub through which many apps integrate. Let’s explore a few:
One of my favorite tools in Evernote. If you’ve seen me talk about this product on one of the Mac-centric webinars I’ve hosted, then you know that Evernote can serve as a great “everything bucket” where you can store all sorts of information and documents for easy retrieval. Of all the things that Evernote handles wonderfully, there is one area where it falls down. That’s in how it handles email. Out of the box, the only way to get email into Evernote is to forward it to a specific email address. However, as with Outlook on the PC, there is a terrific add-in called EverMail from ChungwaSoft that instantly clips the email - text and attachments - and prompts you for a name and notebook within Evernote in which to save it.
EverMail is just one example of the many add-ins that companies have written for Mail. ChungwaSoft offers some additional Mail plugins. One is CargoLifter, which takes the too-large-for-email attachments you want to send to someone and drops them in the cloud storage location of your choice, providing a link within the email to the recipient. This functionality is duplicative of a feature Apple provides in OX Yosemite; but if you’re running an earlier Mac OS version, it’s a great add-in to have.
A third add-in to check out is SendLater, which allows you to schedule emails to send at a specific time. The example the developer offers is to schedule birthday emails, so you can write them when you remember them rather than having to wait for a specific date. Additionally, it would also allow you to respond to emails after hours without looking like you’re available 24/7 - a definite plus in my book.
Finally, if you really want to power-up your email, take a look at Mail Act-On 3, which is a tool that lets you build workflows around your email. You can move messages between email boxes with quick keyboard commands; you can control when a message is released for delivery to a recipient (similar to SendLater above); you can create mail templates, which save time over retyping similar messages over and over again; and, lastly, it can create filtering rules for outbound messages so that you can keep all communications with a single client or matter in one spot - those sent and received.
Hopefully these four suggestions give you a hint of what’s out there to make Mac Mail more useful. It will not be a full practice management solution, but it can help make your practice run smoother.