Peer to Peer Magazine

December 2012

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

Issue link: http://epubs.iltanet.org/i/96072

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case studies Tech Innovation in the Academy by Roger V. Skalbeck of Georgetown Law Center If today's law students are going to become effective users of technology tools, law schools need to prepare them for more than just tomorrow's legal practice. At Georgetown, we have come to the realization that we need to prepare students for legal practice 10 years from now. Law students need to understand and appreciate the potential of technology to transform legal practice. I am an associate law librarian in the Georgetown Law Center library, and I co-teach a seminar called "Technology, Innovation and Law Practice" with my colleague Tanina Rostain, a professor of law at Georgetown. With our students, we explore new models for delivering legal services and talk to innovators in the legal profession. Instead of writing papers, our students work in teams to produce prototypes of apps to solve legal problems. In place of a final exam, students participate in a head-to-head competition we developed and christened "Iron Tech Lawyer." Here the teams demonstrate the way their projects make use of a single common ingredient — technology. Incorporating practical uses of technology is an area in which people with technology skills can help influence what and how law students learn. Within law schools, there are opportunities for technology-savvy people, including librarians, Web developers and 26 Peer to Peer faculty at all levels. There are also opportunities to partner with law firms and outside groups to collaborate on ways for the classroom to move closer to the conference room. Learn Process, Not Products With computer-based legal research, there's often a dilemma in deciding the scope and depth of instruction to devote to issues of interface. How much instruction is needed to explain features like icons, flags, stars, arrows, menus and folders in legal research platforms? I think of this dilemma as a question of "process vs. product." How much explanation is needed for product features to truly teach the process of what these tools can accomplish? For legal research, if there were just two options in the market, we might justify teaching the products in great detail. Of course, there's no duopoly for legal research tools. Understanding products is important, but teaching about process is the higher priority. Legal research is only one part of the practice of law that has improved with innovation. We have automation for reviewing and producing documents. There are tools to manage cases,

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