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Law school targets prospective students through new technology

Podcasting, blogging are latest recruiting tools

With technology changing so rapidly, and the emergence of podcasts and blogs as the newest method of receiving information, many colleges and universities are in the midst of a "recruiting revolution." To appeal to a new generation of prospective students, schools are finding themselves using new media tools to communicate with their prospect pool.

"Although new to California Western, many of these technologies are not new to prospective students," said Traci Howard, assistant dean of admissions at California Western. "We are evolving with technology and the way students seek information. We are stepping into a new wave of recruiting."

California Western has enhanced its Web presence to include blogs, podcasts and RSS. To familiarize potential law students with various areas of law, professors discuss current events such as hot court cases and lawsuits on a weekly podcast, "Law in 10." Plus, first-year law students are blogging their experiences of studying law and living life in San Diego. Both provide prospective students with a wider perspective on what life as a law student will really be like.

Multi-blog tells the life of law students

California Western entered the blogosphere with three students -- two of them first-year law students, and one second-year -- blogging their experiences studying for classes, stressing over finals and participating on trial teams.

"Prospective students are always asking me what they should expect from the first year of law school -- blogs give undergraduates considering law school a good idea of what being a 1L is like," said Howard. "They can provide prospective students some answers straight from current law students who are just like them, in a 'real-world' medium they are familiar with."

The California Western bloggers come from very different backgrounds, places and experiences. Each offers a unique perspective into the life of a law student: Josh, a first-year student from the University of Hawaii at Manoa; Andrea, a first-year student from the University of Wyoming; and Solomon, a second-year and California Innocence Project student from the University of Texas at Austin.

In a March post, blogger Andrea shared her news of a new summer internship: "On Wednesday evening I received a letter inviting me to be an intern at the San Diego Department of the Alternate Public Defender," Andrea wrote. "I was thrilled! I am so nervous, but I think it is going to be a very exciting summer. I am anxious to get into the 'real world' of law and get some experience."

In addition to student bloggers, California Western has new renovation and news blogs where people can sign up to receive RSS updates on California Western news. The school also plans to have law professors blog about their specialty areas in the near future.

California Western in your music library

On "Law in 10," California Western's weekly podcast, professors are taking their expertise from the classroom to the iPod, providing legal analysis on current news topics, all in 10 minutes. Each week the show features different legal experts and topics of interest.

"Although a handful of other law schools use podcasts for lectures and speaker events, we believe California Western is the first law school to offer a weekly news commentary," said David Bowers, assistant dean for external affairs. "Our purpose in launching this effort is to introduce our faculty members to 'Gen iPod,' the 19- to 24-year-old college student with an interest in legal issues. We believe others will develop an interest in what our faculty have to say as well."

The first podcast debuted in August 2006, and since then the program has featured topics ranging from international law and the Iraq war, to the Steve Foley shooting incident and firing of eight U.S. Attorneys.

On a recent podcast, Bankruptcy Law Professor Scott Ehrlich commented on how the San Diego Catholic church filing for bankruptcy rather than going to court for each abuse case benefited both the church and the victims: "Nobody is happy in a normal judicial action. It takes a long time, it's frustrating and there's about 150 of these cases out there," he said. "By shifting it into bankruptcy we're getting the church to come up with a proposed plan that the victims are willing to sign off on ... and resolving (the cases) faster can only mean we're speeding up the healing process."

To view the blogs or listen to the podcast, visit www.CaliforniaWestern.edu.

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