Nearly 400 attendees from across the nation visited the Thomas Jefferson School of Law campus from June 21-23 for "Some Assembly Required," the 22nd Annual CALI (Conference for Law School Computing) Conference. As guests checked in, they found hundreds of LEGO pieces at a “build your own souvenir” table – setting the stage for the fun that would follow.
The event began with a greeting from TJSL Dean Rudy Hasl, who noted that this would “be an exciting event that TJSL is happy to host!” Then, CALI President John Mayer made his grand entrance – dressed as a LEGO man and it brought down the house.
Among the featured speakers at the CALI conference were TJSL Adjunct Professor Jennifer Cooper, who is the Associate Director of the Academic Success Program, and TJSL's Web Application Developer Patty Ramert. TJSL Reference Librarian Catherine Deane also spoke at the event, which concluded on Saturday.
Jennifer Cooper’s entertaining and informative presentation was called “How to Pimp Your TWEN.” The West Education Network® (TWEN) calls itself “an online extension of the law school Classroom.” TWEN can be used by students access course materials, submit assignments and communicate with teachers and classmates, among its many functions. Professor Cooper showed her audience how to use the Westlaw program to turn their TWEN page from “drab to fab,” actually creating a new page in the classroom.
Patricia Ramert spoke about “Maintaining Professor Scholarship on the TJSL Website.” Ramert took an old system based on lot of handwritten documents, and created a modern, streamlined paperless system. “We’re going ‘Green’ here,” she said. It was a painstaking nine-month process for Ramert to create the innovative new system, but it revolutionized the way faculty books, presentations and articles are posted and updated on the website.
Catherine Deane’s presentation on “Learning Centers in the Library: What can we do with them?” focused on leveraging the technology of the two learning centers in the TJSL Law Library to foster a collaborative approach to learning legal research. Deane says the learning centers, each consisting of a bar-like table with a glass top, a flat screen monitor, a DVD player, two whiteboards and a ceiling mounted document review camera, “are an ideal place for legal research instruction, because they facilitate small group collaboration.”
Former TJSL Chief Information Officer James Cooper, who supervised the team that designed TJSL's virtual computer system, led “tech tours” of the building during the first two days of the event. Cooper stopped in one of TJSL’s “smart classrooms,” where he explained all the bells and whistles. He also took the group to the server room on the sixth floor. Because of the virtual nature of the system, TJSL went from more than 40 servers to just four energy efficient servers – all housed in a special climate-controlled room for optimal performance.
Dean Hasl was pleased with the conference. “It went very smoothly and the attendees enjoyed the ambiance of the building,” he said. “This major conference exposed the school to many educators and technology specialists. I offer my thanks to everyone involved in planning and executing this major logistical event. The feedback about our hospitality has been enormously positive. I think folks left with a new appreciation for the school.”
Among the highlights of the conference was a reception Thursday evening on the eighth floor terrace that featured a Mariachi band and a very festive atmosphere. Attendees also experienced the East Village and Gaslamp Quarter, while some saw the San Diego Padres take on the Seattle Mariners at Petco Park.
CALI guests raved about the good time they had and how impressed they are with the law school's new building. One attendee from the University of Miami School of Law was so impressed with San Diego that he said he was ready to move here.