Legal Technology in Law Schools: 2009 CALI Conference

Legal Technology in Law Schools: 2009 CALI Conference by David Whelan I’m just flying back to Toronto after a great visit to Boulder, Colorado, home of this year’s CALI Law School Technology conference. For anyone who hasn’t attended a CALI conference, it is the best place to find out about what you can do with technology in a legal information environment with limited resources. Many of the presentations at the conference dealt with significant applications, complicated systems, and innovative ideas that could put corporate IT departments to shame considering the number of staff and dollars most law schools have for technology. I spoke on a panel with Wayne Miller and Ken Hirsh on the opportunities for teaching law students about legal technology before they enter the profession.

The CALI conference is always pretty cutting edge, and all the sessions this year were simulcast using DimDim.  The conference site has the entire schedule, and when you look at a session, you can see any presentation or supporting documents the speakers provided.

Why CALI is a Model Conference

CALI stands out in a number of ways.  It is by no means a massive conference, but they had 5 simultaneous sessions over 2 1/2 days, two in the morning and three in afternoon.  It is an unbelievable amount of content, provided by people from the law schools who not only attend but actually provide the services.  There is a collegiality and interconnectedness between the speakers and the audience that is relatively unusual, and many of the sessions end in quite long discussions among the presenters and participants.  Many of the latter have concrete suggestions to add, so the expertise is broadly spread through the group.

It’s a great example of how useful a small conference can be.  I know of larger organizations who do not do as good a job putting on informative programs despite more attendees and revenue.  One thing that jumps out to me every time I go to CALI is how many of the speakers are part of the community, and how their expertise is valued. 

Legal Tech in Your Law School Curriculum

Ken and Wayne have been working on this for, literally, years.  It was a bit of old home week being on the panel with them, because I first visited Duke in 2003 to give a presentation on large law firm technology.  I’ve been back, virtually, in for the last three years once they got the course up and running, and they brought me in using video conferencing.  It has been an interesting experience comparing technology year to year and also to have the virtua classroom experience.  When I taught in the University of Illinois’ LEEP program, it was entirely virtual + streaming audio.  The video component is quite a change.

My part of the panel was the intro, an overview of the last ten years of legal technology in about 20 minutes.  You can see the handouts at the CALI conference site, which have many of my notes, most of which I uttered in some form or another during the session.

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David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.