Email is the bane of many law firms – it just doesn’t stop. In a sense, this is a good thing – you need those emails coming through so you can keep providing value to your clients. But, on the other hand, every time you get that email alert it distracts you from your work.

While it’s tempting to go old-school and delete all the email accounts, unfortunately that just won’t do. A few unread emails becomes a dozen, and then a few dozen, and then BOOM! Apple Mail explodes with a flurry of errors.

Or it doesn’t, and that’s worse.

Now we’re left with a sluggish, bloated inbox that actively works against us. There has to be a better way (and there is).

A Better Way to do Email For a Law Firm

While we are typically big advocates for everything Apple, there’s a real chance Apple Mail is not the best fit for your firm (and id you don’t want to keep scrolling, send us an email so that we can schedule a time to go over the particulars of your situation).

It can be tough finding the right tech for your firm and we’re all about efficiency.

Email client vs. email provider

Here’s the point when we need a brief but necessary definition of terms.

When we talk about Apple Mail we are talking about the default email client on Macs. An email client is an app that you use to view your emails (from different providers) and manage them. The email provider (like Gmail, Yahoo, etc), on the other hand, is the web-based software that does all the heavy lifting behind sending and receiving your emails.

One of the things we love the most about Apple Mail is that it lets you see and manage all of your different email providers in one app. It’s so convenient! Emails from iCloud and Gmail, even that old college AOL account you can’t get rid for the same reason you can’t change your cell number.

And that leads us to our first common problem.

Tech Issues and Work-Life Balance in a Law Firm

We don’t mean to get all Zen on you, but having all of your email in one place can be a real mental strain. The most distracting emails are the ones out of context. If you’re trying to get work done, a fantasy football thread from your old college buddies can be enticing. Similarly, nothing quite ruins the moment of planning a ski trip like a client email with the same question for the third time.

A separate app for work and personal email accounts helps a lot. We really like Outlook’s app, especially for iOS. It makes it easy to compartmentalize work and calendar items.

Email Security for a Law Firm

If you aren’t moved by the Zen lifestyle, let’s talk Security. Apple Mail downloads all of your emails to your local computer. Every email, every attachment. Everything. It’s not difficult to move an email from one place to another without any alert or record, making it real easy to perform corporate espionage.

Apps like Gmail and Outlook were designed with controls that businesses can use to protect their data.

Apple Mail and Storage Issues

While we’re on the subject of theft, we have to mention one of the biggest.  Apple Mail stores all your old emails and attachments offline, on your local computer. This means it’s storing tons and tons of data on your computer, sucking up a lot of storage over time.  We can’t tell you how many times people get a brand new Mac only to find themselves short on space from day one.  

Apple Mail downloads all of your old email, from the beginning of time. That Yahoo email from 2012, “Give it to me!” it says.

All that email then gets transferred to your new computer when you use the Migration Assistant.

Once upon a time it was beneficial to store all of your emails, but as web-based email providers like Gmail evolved, we don’t really need this data backup on our computers anymore. Apple Mail’s storage is taking up valuable room on your computer and there’s nothing you can do.

Gmail and Outlook both have a few settings available to help curb all this unnecessary storage usage.

Better Integrations

As law firms grow, we’ve seen countless of them shift from Apple Mail to (most commonly) Gmail or Microsoft 365 – and they never look back. 

The reasons why can mostly be summarized by the integrations. The iOS apps for the email providers just worked better than Mail’s due to direct integration with services like Clio, Trello, Slack, end-to-end encryption, and Dropbox integrations. 

Easier to troubleshoot

No email app is absolutely perfect and they’ll never be 100% error free. But a few problems seem to crop up with Apple Mail that make day-to-day operations difficult for a law firm. For example: Apple Mail could repeatedly ask for your password, saying it “Can’t Verify Certificate” (or any other number of esoteric and untimely error messages) stop sending or receiving email, stop saving sent emails (and the list goes on). 

There are fixes for every one of these problems, but they aren’t easy to find. Instead of spending your valuable time troubleshooting these issues, we recommend going with a different email app with more robust documentation. 

More email client options

Our suggestion for replacing Apple Mail is to look at Gmail and Outlook for business use. The integrations, security, and management are top notch.  But there is a bevy of alternatives, including Airmail, Unibox, Spark, Postbox, the tried-and-true Thunderbird and the highly opinionated Hey. All have their own pluses and minuses, which is to say you’ll want to look at them all individually to see what meets your needs best. 

A final note on email for Law Firms

Email is a real drag and we’d all like something better. That something better may be leaving the comfort of the very good and familiar Apple Mail. When you’re getting fed up and ready to try something new (or you’re tired of trying new things), remember this:  no one likes email, except us – we’re here to help.

Luke Kumanchik

Entrepreneur, programmer, backyard farmer & Dungeon Master Extraordinaire.