The modern lawyer cannot practice without some deployment of technology; practical and ethical obligations have made technological proficiency part of what it means to be practice-ready. These obligations complicate the question of what constitutes best practices in law school.
Today’s law schools are filled with students who are digital natives who don’t necessarily leverage technology in maximally efficient ways, and faculty who span multiple generations, with varying amounts of skepticism about modern technology. Students are expected to use technology to read, prepare for class, take notes, and study for and take final exams. Professors might use technology to teach or assess student work, but students are often asked to leave technology out of the classroom because of professor expectations about distraction and notetaking. All of this is happening as we attempt to prepare students to enter a profession that is infused with both technological capabilities and obligations, including the rules of professional conduct. These capabilities and obligations will continue to evolve, grow, and change alongside companion changes in technologies.
It is no wonder that some mixed messages emerge in discussions about technology and law student learning. In some cases, we have attempted to clarify these mixed messages using research regarding best practices for learning, but even these good faith attempts can leave students feeling somewhat muddled.
In this article, I revisit a topic I first studied and wrote about ten years ago. Since then, there has been much more research and discussion about the issue of legal technology and some significant changes to the environment in which these discussions occur. My position has only been fortified by developments that have occurred since. I remain convinced that banning technology is bad for law student learning. Now, I am sure it is also bad for their professional development. In fact, we should arguably be inviting more opportunities for technology into the law school curriculum.
This article asserts that law schools have a duty to help students develop best practices and good habits about technology while they are in law school. This means granting students a certain degree of autonomy over their own learning while also encouraging thoughtful deployment of technology as a matter of their professional development.
Kristen E. Murray,
Take Note: Teaching Law Students to be Responsible Stewards of Technology,
Cath. U. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.edu/lawreview/vol70/iss2/7