Thursday, September 16, 2021
Kristen E. Murray (Temple; Google Scholar), Take Note: Teaching Law Students to Be Responsible Stewards of Technology, 70 Cath. U. L. Rev. 201 (2021):
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 but who do not 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 in discussions about technology and law student learning, some mixed messages emerge. In some cases, law faculty 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 confused.
In this article, I revisit a topic I first studied and wrote about ten years ago.1 Since then, there has been much more research and discussion about the topic of legal technology and some significant changes to the environment in which these discussions occur. My position has only been fortified by these more recent developments, including the quick pivot to remote learning and lawyering that occurred in the spring of 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I remain convinced that banning technology is bad for law student learning.2 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.