Starting this fall, the University of Dayton School of Law will become a pioneer in digital lawyering, implementing more online components for courses and new technology training sessions, according to law professor Vernellia Randall.
To align with advancing technology, the UDSL formed an online learning committee two years ago to consider employing online components with traditional coursework, Randall said. Former law students who have been working in the digital lawyering field approached the committee to consider digital technology training, she said.
“Legal education is about 100 years behind in terms of distance learning, because it is very traditionally based,” she said. “We want to develop a quality approach and be on the forefront of a blended, online education.”
Included in this approach are two digital lawyering courses, Technology in Law Practice and Social Media in Law Practice, offered to law students to help them train for the future of the legal practices, according to the website.
Adjunct professor Stephanie Kimbro, a UDSL graduate and pioneer in digital lawyering, will teach both courses from her home in North Carolina.
Seven years ago, Kimbro said she designed digital lawyering software that enabled her to practice law online. After being approached by the dean of UDSL, Paul McGreal, Kimbro said she wanted to help future lawyers use technology in the traditional law office.
Each session of the courses will hold a maximum of 25 students, and courses will be offered on Monday and Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. via live web conferences on Isidore, according to the website.
Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 5, Technology in Law Practice will focus on providing technological “hands on experience” used in producing legal work, as said on the website. According to Kimbro, students will work with cloud computing, management and artificial intelligence systems.
Skills learned in the course will allow certain work currently done by lawyers to be replaced by technology, she said.
The social media course, starting on Oct. 22, will focus on developing the best practices for using social media platforms in the professional world, according to the website. Social media will help provide legal knowledge to the non-lawyer, Randall said.
“Social media should be used as tool, although said tools can be abused, misused and also sometimes ineffective,” Randall said. “Students will learn how to properly use social media in a professional manner in terms of pictures and posts, although it can be hard to decipher between social and work uses.”
Ethical use of technology will be emphasized in both digital lawyering courses, Kimbro said.
In addition to the digital lawyering courses, UDSL professors have been using online components in addition to traditional coursework. Legal profession program coordinator and law professor Sheila Miller said she has started to incorporate online quizzes, videos and forums to reach her students more effectively.
“I wanted to create a ‘hybrid’ component of my class which involved both going to class during normal class time but also using online learning,” Miller said. “I want to see immediately if the students understand the coursework and online learning allows me to do that.”
Randall said utilizing online components to coursework and law practice has been advancing in past years.
“Most people in higher education institutions tend to teach what they were taught, but blended courses with face-to-face and online time have proven to be effective for students,” Randall said. “Legal education should be no different, despite its traditional history.”
For further information on the digital lawyering courses offered, visit udayton.edu/law/career_services/digital_lawyering_program.php.