June 27, 2011
Technological Innovations in Legal Education
I graduated from law school almost 30 years ago. I and most of my classmates did not have computers. (I didn’t even have an electric typewriter.) Lexis and the world of computer research were in their infancy. No one had cell phones. Cable TV was still primarily for rural folk who couldn’t receive broadcast signals, and, as far as most of us knew, there was no Internet.
The world has changed dramatically, but legal education seems stuck in the 1950s. That’s why it’s always fun for me to attend the annual CALI Conference on Law School Computing, from which I just returned. I am actively involved in efforts to increase the use of technology in legal education, so I am aware of much that is going on, but the CALI conference provides an opportunity to see many innovations at once. Individuals and groups of people around the country are engaged in some very creative attempts to use technology to increase the effectiveness and, just as importantly, decrease the cost of legal education. Yes, contrary to popular belief, legal education does have its innovators.
Here, in random order, are just a few of the things people were talking about:
- The development of e-casebooks and statute books, many of which are or will be made available to students for free
- Innovative uses of video
to create hypotheticals students can watch
to simulate what happens when a lawyer walks into a partner’s office to receive an assignment
- Computerized legal lessons accessible not just on computers, but on phones and iPads.
- Legal apps for tablets and cell phones.
- The use of social media, such as Facebook, to increase communication among students and between professors and students
- Distance education courses bringing students from different law schools together in a single class
- Continued digitization of library resources
- The use of online platforms to facilitate collaborative scholarship
- Digitization of case law, statutes, and regulations to provide free alternatives to Westlaw and Lexis. Among other things, there’s a project afoot that would attempt to get all law, including state and local law, online, accessible through a single source.
- Digital annotation of student videos to provide quicker, cheaper feedback in clinical courses
Clearly, not all of these innovations will stick, and there will be new developments that we can’t anticipate, just as I couldn’t have anticipated when I graduated how integral the Internet would become. But it will be interesting to see how legal education will evolve over the next decade or two, and it seems clear to me that it must evolve.
June 27, 2011 | Permalink