The Linux Law Firm (or How I Learned to Love FOSS)

Schuyler "Rocky" Reidel

Schuyler "Rocky" Reidel

Schuyler is the founder and managing attorney for Reidel Law Firm.

What is the Linux Law Firm?

In short, it’s Reidel Law Firm! We are a law firm that is dedicated to providing the highest quality service to our clients in the franchise and international trade space while utilizing (nearly) only free and open-source software (FOSS). We believe in the power of FOSS to empower individuals and organizations of all sizes, and strive to provide our clients with the best legal advice possible.

Free software refers to software which adheres to the requirements of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), which generally involve providing access to the underlying source code, allowing free distribution and modification of the software. Open-source software (or OSS) refers more broadly to software which is made available through public collaboration and shared resources, though there is some overlap with FOSS.

At Reidel Law Firm, we use Linux as our primary operating system and actively support the development of FOSS applications. We do this for many reasons, including greater cost savings, improved security, enhanced flexibility and more reliable software. Additionally, we believe in the power of FOSS to empower individuals and organizations of all sizes by providing an alternative to proprietary software from large conglomerates.

We believe that our commitment to free and open-source software is a powerful statement about our dedication to our craft and to providing the best service possible for our clients. Our commitment to free and open-source software development gives us a unique perspective on the legal landscape and allows us to provide our clients with superior service.

Why FOSS?

It’s a statement about our values as a law firm. We believe in the power of collaboration and open resources to spur innovation, drive creativity, and provide everyone with access to quality software. We strive to embody these values in all that we do, and are proud to be one of the few law firms who operate exclusively on Linux and support the development of FOSS applications.

At the end of the day, we believe that using Linux and supporting FOSS is the right thing to do. It’s a statement about our commitment to providing our clients with the best service possible and our dedication to creating a better world through technology.

For a great overview about why it is important to utilize and support FOSS, I encourage you to watch this great Ted Talk by the founder of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman.

How Can You Have a Law Firm Without Windows?

At Reidel Law Firm, we don’t need Windows (or Mac)! Our primary operating system is Linux, and we’ve utilized a suite of tools tailored to our particular needs through FOSS applications. We use open-source applications wherever possible and have found that most of the software we need can be provided for free. Additionally, we support development teams who are constantly creating new tools to make us more efficient and effective.

For example we use the following applications which completely replace our dependence on proprietary software:

  • LibreOffice which replaces the Microsoft Office (we also use a self-hosted Collabora Office server as our own cloud based document editor when needed)
  • NextCloud is used as our self-hosted cloud storage solution so we can keep our client information confidential and not in the hands of Google or Amazon
  • Firefox is our primary internet browser (with de-googled Chromium as our backup) for accessing the internet with ad blockers and custom DNS to protect our computers and team from being unecessarily tracked
  • Thunderbird is our mail email client application (with Fairemail on Android as our mobile client) which keeps us free of the Google and Microsoft email server dupopoly
  • Joplin is our primary note taking application which is much better and more flexible than Evernote or OneNote
  • SuiteCRM is our company CRM and project management software we self-host to keep our client matters and administration on task and organized, it is a powerful, customizable alternative to Salesforce and other business CRM solutions

These are just our most used day to day applications. Note that the total cost to use all of these applications is $0. We do pay some server fees (around $30 a month) to reliably host these some of these on servers but they are all free to acquire and use.

In the end, we’ve found that not having Windows doesn’t really make a difference. We are still able to provide our clients with top-notch legal service and use technology to improve their experience.

What are the Benefits of Using Linux in a Law Firm?

The benefits of using Linux in a law firm are numerous. Here are just a few:

1) Security: Linux is one of the most secure operating systems available, making it ideal for confidential client matters and data storage. We also do not sacrifice any of our or client data which is a typical requirement for many popular and proprietary applications used today.

2) Cost savings: Not only is Linux free to acquire but also there are no license fees associated with the use of most applications.

3) Customizability: Linux is highly customizable and allows us to tailor a suite of tools specifically for our needs, something that wouldn’t be possible with Windows or Mac. We have customized most of our applications suite to fit our own specific workflow to keep us happy and efficient.

4) Collaboration: Collaborating on projects with other firms can be made easier with the use of open-source applications, as they are more likely to be compatible with each other.

5) Support FOSS: As a law firm dedicated to supporting open-source development, using Linux allows us to set an example for the industry.

These are just a few of the benefits that we have experienced since making the switch to Linux and embracing open-source software development. We believe that FOSS is the future of law and are proud to be at the forefront of this movement.

The Cost of Running a Law Firm on Linux

The cost to run a law firm on Linux is minimal, yet the advantages are immense. Ultimately, the monetary cost is typically close to $0 but can increase if you need customized coding or other special setups. There may be some time commitment in learning a new structure but many FOSS applications are extremely easy to use and have familiar user interfaces.

We believe a linux law firm is an example of how a successful legal practice can reduce costs while simultaneously providing clients with the highest quality of service and security. We hope that this model will inspire other law firms to make the switch as well and help promote open-source software development in the legal industry. By embracing open-source technology, we can ensure that the law continues to move forward in the right direction.

The Future of Law Firms and Linux

At The Linux Law Firm, we believe that free and open-source software is the key to unlocking a more equitable, accessible and secure future for both individuals and organizations of all sizes. We are dedicated to promoting the use of FOSS by utilizing it ourselves and providing legal services to those who need help navigating the complex world of technology law. We strive to provide our clients with the best service and advice possible and are proud to support the development of FOSS applications.

The use of Linux in a law firm is an excellent way to both support free and open source software development while also reducing costs and providing clients with superior service. We believe that law firms who embrace this model will be well-positioned for success in the future.

With its security, flexibility, cost savings, and collaboration capabilities, Linux is the ideal operating system for law firms. We are proud to be part of this movement and look forward to seeing what the future holds for Linux and open source software in the legal industry.

We are excited to be part of this movement and we hope that more law firms make the switch to Linux!