NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma College of Law has been named an Apple Distinguished School for 2017-2019 in recognition of its groundbreaking Digital Initiative, which prepares OU Law students to become technologically savvy lawyers who understand the tools needed to research, organize, communicate and present in the 21st century.
“As the first law school in the nation to launch a college-wide Digital Initiative, our students are immersed in technology and trainings from day one,” said OU College of Law Dean Joseph Harroz Jr. “The selection of OU Law as an Apple Distinguished School provides tangible evidence of our incredible success in creating an innovative learning environment that equips our students for the modern practice of law.”
Apple Distinguished Schools are centers of innovation, leadership and educational excellence that use technology to inspire creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. They showcase innovative uses of technology in learning and teaching and have documented results of academic accomplishment.
OU Law: A National Leader in Modern Legal Education
In response to the growing demand for technologically proficient law graduates, in 2014 OU Law introduced its Digital Initiative, which is built around three core elements:
- the common platform of iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, given to all students at no cost, for hand-writing notes and annotating documents;
- a digital training curriculum that educates OU Law students to use technology for productivity in law school and in practice; and
- the Inasmuch Foundation Collaborative Learning Center, a state-of-the-art space that allows students to become familiar with how technology can be used to collaborate on projects.
Immersive Digital Training
Each year, the college offers more than 70 training sessions that explore applications that aid in legal practice such as Office 365, Adobe Acrobat, cloud storage and practice management systems. Several sessions feature leading experts at tech companies. This year, it is anticipated that more than 3,000 attendees will participate in the training sessions – an average of six hours of technology training per student for the entire student body.
In addition to training sessions outside of class, many OU Law classes integrate technology into the curriculum. For example:
- all students in the Moot Court program receive advanced training on Microsoft Word, including styles, tables of authority and cross-references;
- all Trial Techniques courses incorporate TrialPad, an app that organizes, annotates and presents evidence; and
- in other courses, students are taught how to use the suite of Thomson Reuters “Practice Ready” legal research, writing and analytical tools.
Inasmuch Foundation Collaborative Learning Center
Located in the main entrance to the college’s Donald E. Pray Law Library, the Inasmuch Foundation Collaborative Learning Center is dedicated to promoting collaboration. It represents how traditional legal study is enhanced through the adoption of 21st century skills. The space features two virtual reality stations; four multimedia study rooms; a flipped seminar classroom; a fully-equipped computer lab with dual-monitor stations; moveable whiteboard desks and stands; Brody WorkLounges; a “genius station” for research support; a café; and cooperative learning spaces for student collaboration.
OU Law Center for Technology and Innovation in Practice
In November, the college announced the launch of the OU Law Center for Technology and Innovation in Practice, which formally brings together and expands the elements of the Digital Initiative. The center offers technology certifications and opportunities to explore new law practice technology.
Student, Industry Feedback
Student adoption of and satisfaction with OU Law’s Digital Initiative is evident. From record-setting training session participation to extensive usage of the Inasmuch Foundation Collaborative Learning Center, students are taking advantage of all OU Law’s Digital Initiative has to offer. More than 97 percent of students rank their satisfaction with the Digital Initiative as satisfied or very satisfied.
Others in the legal industry are increasingly taking note of OU Law’s excellence in the digital sphere. For instance:
- preLaw Magazine recently named OU Law one of the Top 20 Most Innovative Law Schools in the nation;
- AALL Spectrum has focused on OU Law’s innovative programs in both its May/June 2017 issue and its November/December 2017 issue;
- In November, Harroz participated in a panel discussion at Thomson Reuters’ conference in Washington, D.C., on The Future of Law Schools; and
- Darin Fox, Associate Dean and Director of the Law Library, was interviewed about the Digital Initiative for the American Bar Association’s podcast “The Digital Edge.”
To learn more about OU Law’s Digital Initiative, visit law.ou.edu/digitalinitiative.
Founded in 1909, the OU College of Law is Oklahoma’s premier law school. OU Law offers small sections and class sizes that encourage a strong sense of community; accomplished faculty with international expertise; and a state-of-the-art facility equipped with the latest technology. The OU College of Law is the academic home of more than 700 students enrolled in the juris doctor program, the John B. Turner Master of Laws Program, the master of legal studies program and various dual degree programs. For more information about OU Law, visit law.ou.edu.
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