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Legal Ed in a Networked World: what’s at stake?

(un)Common Knowledge

(un)Common Knowledge is happening this Thursday night at 6pm (details). The panelists for the event had a fruitful and intriguing preparatory conversation this morning. While our moderator, Prof. Charlie Nesson, is framing the specific questions for our panel, the discussion will certainly touch on some of the following issues:

  1. What are the new skills demanded by a technology-enhanced practice? Consider two new practices: (1) e-discovery, which has made it possible for lawyers to sift through of millions of emails and documents; and (2) huge, multi-office teams, which are tackling both more complex but also more discrete issues. The first is one of many examples of computers as intelligence augmentation; the second illustrates technology as network augmentation.
    • What are the technical skills? Are our new associates as computer-literate as we claim?
    • What are the cognitive/conceptual skills? Are successful lawyers also necessarily systems- and “meta”-level thinkers?
    • What are the social skills? What collaboration and teamwork skills do legal workplaces demand today?
    • What “anti-skills” or attitudes should young attorneys cultivate? How do lawyers prevent themselves from becoming isolated techno-drones?
  2. Who should teach these skills? We have representatives from the law school, law practice, and CLE worlds. Where does the buck stop?
    • Does a networked and “databased” environment shift power away from the teacher (someone who creates and controls an educational experience) to the learner (someone who will seek knowledge/information as s/he sees fit)? Do we have any choice in this matter?
  3. How should they/we teach these skills? In addition to presenting bigger challenges, technology — especially the Internet — also affords us new possibilities.
    • Can traditional distance learning techniques bridge a different gap than geography: that between practice and the academy?
    • How can clinical programs serve not just as opportunities for practice, but also opportunities for technology-enabled practice?
    • Can technology enable or enhance simulations as a pedagogical tool?
    • How do sophisticated networks and networking tools enable lawyers, law professors, and even law students to aggregate and disseminate crucial knowledge? Is the teacher’s role diminished or changed in this environment?

For anyone who is interested in the above topics, we encourage you to attend live or virtually via webcast or Second Life. Please go to the official event page for physical, web-streaming, and Second Life attendance details. For virtual participants, note that we will be using the Question Tool to collect and funnel questions to Prof. Nesson and the panelists to include your participation as much as possible. We will also make recordings of this event available to the public if the timing of this event just doesn’t work out whatever the means of attendance.

We intend for this event to spark more questions and discussions rather than seek definitive answers. We welcome any thoughts people may already have on these topics.

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