Competence is one of the key ethical duties lawyers owe to their clients. While we often think of this duty as requiring only that we keep up to date on substantive law, competence includes keeping abreast of “the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” Particularly with the rise of social media and the ease of sharing information electronically, lawyers often forget that they must ensure that their social media behaviors address all relevant ethical rules, including competence, confidentiality, advertising, communications with third parties and the tribunal, an
Focus on proven real-world legal education applications.
Last spring, Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson launched a mini-MOOC on EdX called "JuryX". But this was no basic lecture-and-quiz MOOC. This program entailed students logging into a Google UnHangout - a "super lobby" created by MIT Media Lab folks - then breaking out into Google Hangout discussion forums. The point of this experience was for students to begin to understand the concept of "Jury" by actually participating in jury-like small group discussions. How could this work in an online environment?
Law firms are jam packed with technology. Some, like conflicts software, document review systems, and time entry interfaces, are made for the legal marketplace. Other technology is ubiquitous - Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint - and familiar to law students. While word processing, spreadsheets, and other common software tools are familiar to students, and many would tell say they are adept at using them, most do not know how to do much beyond putting their fingers on a keyboard and seeing words and numbers appear on a screen.
The importance of solving the link rot and research rot problems present in almost half of Supreme Court cited urls has been discussed in law review articles written published in Yale and Harvard law journals and mentioned in the New York Times. And starting this term, the SCOTUS website has direct links to the urls. However, many of these links do not contain the same information as was cited by the Court.
First year law students struggle to make the transition from knowing what they read for class to knowing how to use it to solve legal problems. For most students, this is due to continued reliance on “osmotic transmission of tacit knowledge” teaching methods tied to casebooks and the Socratic method. Organizations such as CALI, the Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning have worked for decades to disseminate information about more effective ways to teach students how to “think like a lawyer,” and those efforts are being accelerated
The A2J Author Course Project (“Project”) supports law school courses teaching A2J Author, a program that creates user interfaces called Guided Interviews that help self-represented litigants navigate a legal process and complete legal forms. Now in its fourth year, the Project has brought form automation and document assembly technologies that have been used by legal aid organizations and courts into more classrooms. Students in A2J Author courses learn how to leverage technology to create important resources to increase access to justice.
Duke Law School's seminar on Introduction to Technology in the Law Office tried a new approach in its tenth year. Each enrolled student received an iPad Mini 2, which was incorporated into several class assignments and exercises (including telepresence, collaborative authoring, and document capture). Students kept the loaner iPads for the entire semester, and were also encouraged to explore the devices' potential independently, beyond the requirements of the course.
For the last two years, Professor Jennifer Romig and I have co-taught a course on blogging for law students based around the popular WordPress blogging tool. I'll take you through some of the plug-ins that we have added and successfully used to make WordPress work better for us. Our WordPress instance is built on top of the downloadable wordpress.org software hosted on a local machine at Emory Law. As the famous saying goes, "there's more than one way to do it", so I welcome suggestions from the audience with regard to additional plug-ins, workflows, etc.
Over the past five years at The University of Tennessee College of Law in our 1L two-semester legal research course we’ve incorporated an experiential learning component for first year students designed to instill an early appreciation of the importance of pro bono service to the legal profession.
In recent years, we have seen the emergence and growth of several new legal research platforms, including Ravel, Casetext, Lex Machina, PacerPro, Google Scholar, Fastcase, and Casemaker. Using tools such as big data analytics, data visualization, and crowdsourcing, these platforms offer features and insights not available through the major, most-established platforms--Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law. Despite their potential use, however, it can be intimidating and challenging to incorporate these new tools into traditional legal research and writing instruction.