CALI Turns 25

From the beginning, the nonprofit Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) has been a leader in the use of computers and technology for legal education purposes.

Chicago, IL, August 29, 2007 --( When CALI was founded in 1982, computers barely existed in law schools; a stark contrast to today when a majority of law school classrooms are wired for internet and nearly every student takes notes with a laptop computer. This year marks the 25th birthday of the nonprofit Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, or CALI ( And for those 25 years, CALI has been an innovator of technology in the very traditional world of law school.

What is CALI?
CALI is a non-profit consortium of law schools. “We’ve grown from a side project at Harvard Law School and The University of Minnesota Law School in 1982 to having nearly every law school in the US participate as a CALI member,” says John Mayer, CALI’s Executive Director. CALI welcomes membership from all law schools (including those outside of the US), paralegal programs, undergraduate programs, and law firms. Legal aid organizations, state/county libraries, and library schools may join CALI at no cost. For a list of CALI members visit

CALI is best known for its Library of CALI Lessons, Conference for Law School Computing®, and CALI Excellence for the Future Awards®. And with ground-breaking new projects in the works, CALI continues to advance its mission to better legal education through technology and innovation.

What CALI Does
CALI Lessons are interactive, computer-based tutorials written by law professors and librarians ( CALI’s Library of Lessons has grown from a handful of rarely used lessons to over 675 tutorials in 33 different legal subject areas. Last year CALI lessons were run over 925,000 times by students during the 2006-2007 school year. “Students today grew up surrounded by technology. Many demand to learn interactively, and CALI meets that demand with CALI Lessons,” says Mr. Mayer.

The Conference for Law School Computing®, hosted by CALI at a chosen CALI member law school each year, has been advancing technology in legal education since 1991. For 15+ years, it has been the preeminent conference for law school IT professionals, librarians, and faculty. At the conference, law school professionals collaborate and learn about current innovation as it applies to legal education. The University of Maryland in Baltimore hosts the 2008 conference this summer.

CALI, in line with its nonprofit mission, recently developed the authoring software used for the Access to Justice (A2J) Project. A2J Author is a software tool that assists self-represented litigants by enabling non-technical authors to build and implement user-friendly, web-based interfaces for document assembly. A number of court systems throughout the US have implemented A2J as a way to assist pro se litigants. See for more information.

Legal professionals will also find CALI’s influence listed on many recent law school graduates’ resumes. CALI Excellence for the Future Awards® are given to the top performer in each law school course at many member schools and, thus, carry a certain prestige. The awards have made CALI a verb. “You’ll hear law students say ‘she CALI’ed Torts,’ or ‘he CALI’ed Property,’” says Mr. Mayer.

The Future of CALI
Moving forward, CALI hopes to expand upon current offerings while introducing a handful of new projects:
• Classcaster Podcasting and Blog Network ( is currently available. It offers free class blogs, podcasting, and support of such for law professors.
• MediaNotes (, created by Brigham Young University Law Professor Larry Farmer, is a video/audio tagging application which allows analysis and annotation of video/audio performances for use with courses like negotiations, trial advocacy, and more. CALI will work with BYU and Prof. Farmer in the distribution of MediaNotes to CALI member schools.
• ELangdell will be a web-based course pack and casebook assembly system for law professors.
• CALI Spaces is a personal legal education social community space for law students, faculty, and staff. CALI Spaces will be open to the public soon.
• Legal Education Commons will allow law school personnel to share legal education materials including syllabi, podcasts, presentations, and more. Faculty and librarians from CALI member schools can upload materials to the commons under a Creative Commons license that allows colleagues and students to find and use the materials.

CALI is very excited about these projects. “We think projects like ELangdell, legal education commons, and MediaNotes have a chance to fundamentally change the way law professors teach and the way law students learn for the better,” says Mr. Mayer. “It’s our job to help usher in innovation with projects like these so that schools can help students learn the law through technology.”


About John Mayer
John Mayer is an expert in the use of technology in legal education. He became the Executive Director of The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) in 1994. Prior to CALI, John was the Director of Computing Services at Chicago-Kent College of Law for 7 years. Mr. Mayer has a BS in Computer Science from Northwestern University and an MS in Networks and Telecommunications from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Mr. Mayer is available for comments and questions related to legal education and technology. He can be reached at

About CALI
CALI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit consortium of U.S. law schools. CALI’s mission is to research and develop computer-mediated legal instruction and support institutions and individuals using technology and distance learning in legal education. CALI was incorporated in 1982 and welcomes membership from law schools, paralegal programs, law firms, and individuals wishing to learn more about the law. Over 200 US law schools are a part of CALI. More information is available at
Austin Groothuis