September 25, 2008

Do lawyers now need to know all about web searching and wikis?

Perhaps the only thing I took away from the my law school legal research class a couple decades ago was that I should always remember to check the pocket part for new developments.  Though I know hard-copy pocket parts are still produced, I wonder if current legal research classes now tell students always to check on-line for new developments. 

Speaking of new on-line developments, these two stories from legal newspapers had me wondering if modern legal research courses ought to be taught by folks with a tech background:

September 25, 2008 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 11, 2008

Getting Legal Education Ready for the 21st Century

I'm not sure promoting a forthcoming book is the best use of SSRN but it has called a little attention (30 abstract views since posted on July 19, 2008) to David Thomson's forthcoming book, Law School 2.0 (LexisNexis, January 2009) [SSRN]. Thanks to Legal Research Plus for the link to the book's companion blog. -- Joe Hodnicki

August 11, 2008 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 28, 2008

Technology in Legal Education

To help legal educators locate materials that inform and enrich their teaching and writing, Nova Southwestern law prof Pearl Goldman offers an annotated bibliography of articles, commentaries, conference papers, essays, books, and book chapters that examine the impact of technology on legal education in this 100-plus page article (pdf) The article was published in the Summer 2008 issue of Law Library Journal. -- Joe Hodnicki

July 28, 2008 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2008

Coming to a Textbook Near You, the Big Screen Kindle

Once upon a time I wrote that the e-book development model for legal publishing will not follow along the lines of Kindle because the digital text-study aid functionality law schools students want is not gizmo-dependent and products are or can be expected to integrate their computer-based apps with online research services. On this blog, see also Gene Koo's post, Kindle won't catch fire in law schools, and Mark Osler's Advances in Book-Hauling Technologies.

That may change if the forthcoming big screen Kindle catches on because the sheer market presence of Amazon may prove once again that bad technology will trump consumer needs. Read more about it in Big Screen Kindle Aiming for $5.5 Billion Textbook Market. -- Joe Hodnicki

July 21, 2008 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 09, 2008

Promoting Law to the Next Generation - Beyond Street Law

Some law schools have Street Law Projects to promote law in high schools and to the general public. On the Georgetown University website it states that "[s]ince 1972, the D.C. Street Law Clinic has provided law-related educational services in the District of Columbia and has served as a model for Street Law programs both nationally and internationally." (See Georgetown here) Many schools offer law school credit to students who participate in teaching as part of a street law project. (see here). 

But retired Justice O'Connor moves this education into the new technological era. She has come up with a new educational tool for promoting the law in future generations - a video game.  Check out Claudia Parsons,  Reuters (Fox News), Retired U.S. Justice O'Connor Unveils Video Game.

ellen s. podgor (w/ a hat tip to Lisa M. Padla)

June 9, 2008 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2008

Beyond the Law School Realm - GoCrossCampus.Com

Law schools can sometimes be slower in modernizing when compared to their undergraduate counterparts, at least when it comes to technology (although this is not always the case). This is particularly true when one examines the growth of distance or electronic education, as the undergraduate institutions are well established in a field that law schools are just starting to investigate.  I, therefore, have to wonder if the movement will eventually hit the law schools, or maybe it already has arrived. The New York Times here explains the "game" or what some may see as a social networking forum. Like Second Life, it provides a web space to use beyond the walls of a classroom.  In contrast, however, gocrosscampus has a game-like approach - and a war game at that - with a goal of conquest.  As law schools move more to a mediation and alternative dispute approach, conquest seems like it should be frowned upon.  Social networking, however, is important. One has to wonder if down the road there will be a law school adaptation to this latest technology game.

ellen s. podgor

March 23, 2008 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Is Amazon's Kindle Doing Better Than People Expected?

See WSJ, Amazon Hopes to Resolve 'Kindle' Backlog Within Weeks

ellen s. podgor

March 23, 2008 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 21, 2008

Report on Tech "Experiment": Teaching from home

posted by Elmer Masters

With permission from Prof. Jonathon Ezor of Touro Law Center, I wanted to share this post from the teknoids mailing list. Prof. Ezor made good use of available technology to hold classes that would have otherwise been canceled.  This provides a reasonable prototype that other schools can look at for developing distance ed applications.

From the Teknoids post:

I thought the Teknoids community might be interested in the below report I
sent to our faculty and deans regarding an experimental effort that allowed
me to teach my Cybercrime class from home twice this week, after various
family illnesses made it probable that I would otherwise have to miss the
class.  Special thanks to Touro's IT professionals (including frequent
Teknoids participants Peter Stanisci and Matt Perna, along with their
colleague Rich Quinn) for their enthusiastic, last-minute help in making this
work.  {Jonathan}

---------------------------cut here--------------------------------

To my colleagues:

As promised, I am reporting back after my experiment teaching my Cybercrime
class from home.  Although I had initially only planned on doing so once, on
Monday, I ended up having to do so again this morning as well (again on very
short notice--kudos to the IT department), so my report is based on two days
of experiences.

In short:  It worked.

More specifically, it worked adequately, particularly given how little
advance planning had gone into this impromptu experiment.  We used two pieces
of software: the free audio/video chat program Skype (,
and a free Skype add-in called YugmaSE ( which allowed
me to share my computer screen and/or a window (in this case, a PowerPoint
presentation) with the students via Skype.  Peter Stanisci and the IT staff
had already built a rolling computer setup with an attached video camera they
call the Kramer Cart (after Lynne Kramer, who used it first to record her
trial advocacy students), which had Skype installed on it.  They added the
YugmaSE software and brought the cart into the classroom, pointing the camera
toward the students and using the room's screen and projector to show the
Kramer Cart's computer display.  They connected the entire setup to the
Internet.  On my end, I was running Skype and YugmaSE from home, connected to
my home Internet router, with my own Webcam and microphone.  At the start of
class, we established a standard Skype connection (audio and video), then
started the YugmaSE software and set up the screen sharing on both ends.
Once I began the PowerPoint presentation, the students were (from what I've
heard) able to see the slides and hear me clearly (I turned off my camera
while showing the presentation, to save on bandwidth).  Although the
classroom lights were out to make the screen more visible, I could see the
students fairly clearly, and hear them as well (although it was easier to
hear them when I was wearing headphones, versus using my laptop's own

It was not entirely bulletproof.  During the first day, the PowerPoint
connection froze and had to be restarted in the classroom, although I was
able to continue the lecture and discussion portion.  Today, it was my
computer that crashed (probably because I hadn't prepared it appropriately
before starting), and the students had to wait for 5 minutes while I called
the room via telephone and rebooted my machine.  The students also had to
bunch themselves together a bit in their rows to fit the camera's field of
view.  That said, this very cobbled-together, free setup saved me from having
to reschedule two classes, and I accomplished real teaching.

I would not recommend this solution for everyone; it requires a reasonably
high level of technical sophistication by the teacher, and needs an IT person
in the room just in case.  It does, though, give us a backup for certain
situations, and shows a method that (with the right, non-free resources)
might scale up to reliable ways to do this.  Beyond that, it was just fun to

I welcome your feedback, and would be happy to show you the software on my
office laptop.  Thanks for your collective interest.  {Jonathan}

Prof. Jonathan I. Ezor
Assistant Professor of Law and Technology
Director, Institute for Business, Law and Technology (IBLT)
Touro Law Center
225 Eastview Drive, Central Islip, NY  11722
Direct: 631-761-7119  Fax: 516-977-3001


March 21, 2008 in Technology -- in general, Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 03, 2008

Can any law school innovation be found at the ABA TECHSHOW?

I just got an e-mail encouraging me, as a member of the ABA, to make plans to head "to the Windy City for ABA TECHSHOW 2008, the world's premier legal technology conference and expo." This (somewhat ugly) website provides a basic description of the show:

ABA TECHSHOW continues to be the world's premier legal technology conference & expo. The three-day conference is attended by more than 1400 people each year and produces more than 50 legal technology programs and training sessions in sixteen topical tracks. ABA TECHSHOW also features a two-day expo.  Learn about the latest products and services as you wander through the exhibit hall, featuring more than 100 technology companies....

ABA TECHSHOW attendees typically include:

  • Lawyers
  • Judges
  • CIOs
  • IT Managers
  • Law Firm Administrators
  • Legal Marketing Directors
  • Legal Technology Consultants
  • Paralegals
  • Legal Assistants

I find it disappointing, though not really surprising, that this event apparently has nothing geared to law professors, law schools or any aspect of the legal academy.  Perhaps folks at the ABA heard that some law professors are banning laptops in the classroom, and now assume that most ivory tower Luddites have no professional interest in attending the "world's premier legal technology conference and expo."

Posted by DAB

February 3, 2008 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 08, 2008

Is Open-Source the Future of eBook Legal Publishing?

Details (and add your comments) at Law Librarian Blog. -- Joe Hodnicki

January 8, 2008 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 30, 2007

Another Perspective on the Kindle

After playing with my Kindle for slightly over a week, I have to disagree with some of my colleagues on this blog. (see here and here).  I do think that the Kindle has a strong future with the next generation of law books - at least with one segment of the law school population. 

I agree that this first generation Kindle has some deficiencies that warrant change prior to be adapted for law school casebooks.  Most noticeably I would appreciate the highlight function being colored yellow as opposed to just blocking the text. And although I really really (did I say really strong enough)appreciate the 10.3 ounces, I wouldn't mind a few more ounces to increase its size to the page of the average law school casebook. I also would like a built in back-light function and smaller tabs for the page forward and page back buttons, as I keep hitting them unintentionally.

But these deficiencies are minor, are likely to be corrected in the next generation Kindle, and the convenience it offers is incredible.  Having gone to law school in the pre-rolling bag days, I all too well remember carrying heavy law books to and from school.  And perhaps my gender is telling here, as I see the rolling bags being used by more women than men in the law school hallways - and rolling bags don't work well on stairs.  Is your law school more than one level, and who takes the stairs and who takes the elevators?

I am not sure that the Kindle will replace the law books, but I could easily see them as the holder of the casebook that is brought to class - perhaps along with the live code books used in some courses.  I guess I see the Kindle having a bright future with some law students, and I am hopeful that Amazon and law book publishers will build the alliance for those who are looking to replace heavy texts with a 10.3 ounce or slightly heavier device.

- ellen s. podgor

December 30, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 15, 2007

Another View of Wikis in Classrooms

Hillary Burgess sends along a description of her own long experience with using Wiki in classrooms. Note the kind offer to help Wiki newbies at the end of the note. Anupam Chander

Wiki - Paperless communication with students.

By Hillary Burgess, Adjunct Professor, Rutgers School of Law - Camden

What Wiki Is:

If you’ve ever visited wikipedia, you’ve seen wiki software in use. Wiki software is one of the fastest growing technologies used by fortune 500 companies.

The software allows users to create and revise documents using any standard Internet browser. It also saves a copy of every version you create, so it’s great for policy manuals in the work force, shared group projects, and drafts of course papers. Most wiki software is freeware, so it’s the right price for all budgets!

Benefits Of Wiki:

I’ve used wiki technology in my classroom for several years. (Eg. then click courses.) I’ve found it very helpful for me and the students, so I thought I’d share how I’ve used it in my courses.

I keep all of my important course documents available on the wiki. By putting this information available on the web, students have access to it whether or not they have their syllabus or assignment schedule in hand. On the first day of class, I give students a one-page document that tells them how to navigate to the course page, read the syllabus, and locate the assignment schedule. This one page document saves the university the paper and photocopying expenses of the syllabus and assignment schedule, too. Plus, as we modify the assignment schedule over the course of the semester, I don’t have to re-distribute; students just check the online version.

Because the basis of wiki is being able to modify documents from any web browser, I don't have to have any fancy software to create sound web pages or modify the content of my web pages. As such, I can develop my courses from any computer with an Internet connection and a web browser.

I have students post their papers to my wiki. I’ve found numerous advantages to having students post papers online. I have papers due at times not linked to class, so I avoid students skipping class and rushing in 2 minutes before class is over to turn in their paper “on time.” Also, when students are off-campus the day an assignment is due, there’s no reason for extensions or early submission, students just turn the paper in from wherever they are. (I even had a student submit work from Italy one time.) Finally, I have a LOT less to lug around and can grade papers anywhere I can find a private computer with Internet access.

I give students feedback on the wiki. I protect the feedback/grade page so that only the individual student can see the feedback, though my in-line (margin) comments can be seen by all. Giving students feedback becomes easier, too. I put my margin comments right in their text, but I have a standard feedback page that contains all of the comments I’ve ever given to any students. I reuse these comments and customize them as needed, deleting the ones that don’t apply to the current student's paper. Since we tend to give the same or similar advice over and over, I’ve found this common feedback page allows me to provide extensive, thorough, and detailed feedback in less than 5 minutes per student (not including reading and commenting in-line).

Another advantage is that I am introducing students to a technology that many have not had experience with, but very well could as they begin their careers. That said, most students have read entries on wikipedia already, so they have some familiarity with wikis. Some students have even edited wikipedia's pages! Since wiki literally allows students to “write” web pages, I’ve also built up the technical aspects of their qualifications for their resumes. And since it's the fastest growing technology in fortune 500 companies, knowledge of how to use this technology could give them an edge.

I’ve found that the students adjust to using a wiki very quickly and many of them come to rely on the convenience of having course documents available and turning in papers online. Some students are more resistant, but I just keep reminding them that they are building their resume and learning a technology that they might be expected to use in the work force.

The software is easy to install and fairly easy to customize. I allow everyone to see my course documents, but only students in a class can see each other’s work (they work collaboratively), and only each individual student can see his/her private feedback and/or grade. These security measures take some work, but are fairly easy to understand.

A question I get a lot is, “why not just use WebCT?” The main argument against WebCT is that students will NEVER use WebCT software in the business world, so we are making students learn a technology that doesn't translate into business skills. As much as possible, I try to keep all learning connected to a learning objective that translates into knowledge or skill-building students could use in their future careers.

Other Applications for Wiki:

I’ve used the software in my doctrinal courses (both undergraduate and graduate) in keeping with my philosophy that “every class is a writing class.” (hat tip The College - U Chicago) I’ve also used the software with my writing courses, primarily because of the version tracking and document compare (with any version) features. Also, every time wiki saves a version, it provides a time and author stamp - very useful for grading full/no credit assignments.

Finally, I can see how it would be an excellent tool for ASP, both as a repository and as an interactive tool. It would be easy for faculty to post sample exams and sample answers (either emailed to you to post or posted directly) without having to use the network department. Faculty could comment on sample answers - what made them good, for example - without a lot of document exchange. And, all of the information could be accessed online.

Wiki could also be used interactively for tutors to help at-risk and 1L students. The students could post briefs, outlines, etc. online and the tutor could give feedback. (Though, I would still recommend that tutors meet with their students!) Students could also use the technology (with permission) to facilitate sharing study group documents (though I'm not a big fan of study groups divvying up outlines since students learn and review the material best by outlining themselves) and even for chat-group style questions about the material. Obviously, the interactive piece would only be useful for students who are already familiar with the technology.


If you’re interested in wiki, you can visit my site ( for samples. If anyone is interested in incorporating wiki technology into your courses, I can walk you through the installation process and/or offer tips that I’ve learned over the years to make the process more efficient.

November 15, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wikipedia in Law Schools

Beth Simone Noveck has a new piece, "Wikipedia and the Future of Legal Education," in the Journal of Legal Education (Mar. 2007) promoting the use of Wikipedia and Wikis generally in legal education.

She compares Wikipedia to a "multi-author treatise," and notes that it allows experts who do not know each other to collaborate.  She also notes that Wikipedia can be updated more quickly than printed texts, and that Wikipedia allows for discussion and debate on a particular entry to be recorded alongside the entry.

She argues that Wikis encourage "the public exchange of reason," and teaches students "the democratic value of deliberation."  She argues that Wikis allow for an engaged mode of learning.

There's much to Noveck's argument.

Of course, students should not rely blindly on any source, printed or virtual, edited or un-edited.  (I'm sure Noveck would agree with that statement.)

Noveck encourages students to participate in creating Wiki entries, and I think this is an especially useful suggestion. 

Should professors bar students from using Wikipedia as an authority in their writing?  Does it matter whether the writing is intended to be a submission to a court?

Anupam Chander

November 15, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 18, 2007

Chatting in Class

One way to elicit student participation in class--and to distract students from email, IMs, poker, and Facebook--might be to encourage chatting in the classroom. I don't mean the usual breakout sessions (though that remains an important possibility). Rather, I mean eliciting responses to questions online.

Has anyone experimented (either as a professor or a student) with electronic chats used for in-class discussion?

Anupam Chander

October 18, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 04, 2007

Mac Users Only: Install Boot Camp Now

Apple’s Boot Camp, which permits users to load Windows XP onto their Mac laptop, has thus far been a “beta” product. Apple has announced that that Beta will expire this month when Leopard is released. Our information technology director, Jamie Butler, tells me that he has been assured that:

“if you already have Boot Camp installed, your computer will continue to function normally. You should have no problems using your existing windows partitions. Apple is disabling the ability to create additional partitions. The idea is that if a student hasn't installed windows prior to the release of Boot Camp, they will be required to purchase the new version.”

This slight technical detail may seem irrelevant to Law School Innovation, but Mac users at many schools are required to use Boot Camp to access the (alarmingly) Windows-only exam testing software ExamSoft. Thus, if you don’t have Boot Camp already installed, would prefer not to buy Leopard, but still would like to use ExamSoft, you might want to install it now.

Anupam Chander

October 4, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 02, 2007

USC Law Students Adopt University-Branded Google Apps for Education

USC Law is the first school in the university and one of the first law schools in the nation to implement Google Apps for Education, an online suite of communication and collaboration tools including Gmail (e-mail with 2 GB of storage per account), integrated chat, and applications for calendaring and document and spreadsheet production. Read more about it. See also an overview of Google Apps for Education being added to the USC curriculum. -- Joe Hodnicki

October 2, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 24, 2007

An Illustration of Virtual Law Classes

Arno R. Lodder of the Computer/Law Institute at the Free University of Amsterdam has deposited Short Note on Virtual Law Classes: Second Life and Other Three Dimensional Visual Worlds Next Phase for Online Dispute Resolution? in SSRN. Here's the abstract:

Virtual communities and virtual worlds have become popular places on the internet, with some visited even more than Google. The virtual worlds offer opportunities to Online Dispute Resolution. With the advent of the virtual worlds, virtual conflicts ask for an adequate online resolution mechanism: a virtual courtroom. Insights from Online Dispute Resolution research can be applied in developing such a courtroom. The interesting aspect about these environments is that they are electronic by nature but that they look and feel like the real world. As such they might be able to bridge the gap between online and offline dispute resolution. This paper elaborates upon the potential of ODR in three dimensional worlds. I use as an example two recent classes I gave in Second Life, and indicate the experiences relevant for dispute resolution.

-- Joe Hodnicki

September 24, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 04, 2007

Electronic Education # 6

New Book - Legal Issues in Distance Education
Edited by Deborah C. Brown, John R. Przypyszny, and Katherine R. Tromble

The advent of online education - both in the form of so-called "distance learning" and as a supplement to traditional classroom teaching and learning - continues to dramatically alter the face of higher education. The use of new technology, including all of the facets of the Internet, presents a host of legal and practical questions for colleges and universities. The contents of the compendium include:

Table of Contents - here
Information to Order - here

Ellen S. Podgor (w/ disclosure that Debbie Brown is at Stetson University College of Law)

September 4, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 29, 2007

Caselaw for Everyone

Most of us have access to the vast majority of caselaw, statutes, and other legal materials through free Lexis and Westlaw accounts, but what about everyone else? When CALI started laying the groundwork for eLangdell, we found that acquiring the text of cases -- which by all rights are public domain -- would cost us real money. In the menu of public domain law sites,the Legal Information Institute at Cornell is now joined by AltLaw, a collaboration between folks at Columbia and University of Colorado Law Schools.

My colleague Bill McGeveren has written up a good explanation of why AltLaw is an important addition to our arsenal of legal research tools.

While a Boolean search engine is important, as McGeveran points out, what's really exciting is the possibility that, once enough law is out there in the public domain, sophisticated users (from practicing attorneys to students) will begin tagging and cataloging all of it with their own folksonomies. Ultimately, if they're properly handled, these tags and links will be far more valuable than the text itself.

And, as McGeveran mentions, what's also exciting is how innovation at law schools can happen when profs and students approach opportunities with a DIY attitude.

- Gene Koo

August 29, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2007

Innovations 2007/2008

What innovations is your law school offering this year? Do you find innovation in teaching, classrooms, building, or student activities such as law reviews? This coming year here at UC Davis, flat screen monitors will announce that day's events at the law school. This last year, students here at UC Davis organized a trip to the border over Spring Break to report on border enforcement and immigration firsthand. Are student groups planning innovative projects for the coming year? Anupam Chander

August 14, 2007 in Technology -- in general | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack