Chicago-Kent Staff Members Win Illinois Tech Team Excellence Award for Supporting Excellence in Teaching and Research

Monday, February 10, 2020

Three members of the Chicago-Kent College of Law staff won an Illinois Institute of Technology 2019 Team Excellence Award in December for “Innovative Contribution to Support Excellence in Teaching and Research.”

Debbie Ginsberg (second from left), Dawn Young (center), and Emily Barney (second from right) won an Illinois Institute of Technology 2019 Team Excellence Award for “Innovative Contribution to Support Excellence in Teaching and Research.
Debbie Ginsberg (second from left), Dawn Young (center), and Emily Barney (second from right) won an Illinois Institute of Technology 2019 Team Excellence Award for “Innovative Contribution to Support Excellence in Teaching and Research. They accepted the award from Provost Peter Kilpatrick (left) and President Alan Cramb (right).

Emily Barney, technology training and marketing librarian; Debbie Ginsberg, educational technology librarian; and Dawn Young, director of institutional projects and adjunct professor, were honored in December for implementing new technology instruction initiatives to better prepare students and graduates for contemporary legal practice. 

“Emily, Dawn, and I have worked hard to help our students and graduates learn the skills they need to be successful lawyers,” says Ginsberg. “To me, the award shows that Illinois Tech values how we are using our staff expertise to partner with faculty to best educate our students.“

In 2013 Young, director of Chicago-Kent’s Solo and Small Practice Incubator, approached Barney and Ginsberg about workshops that they could offer alumni in the incubator. Young noticed that many of the participants had similar questions about how to better use technology to make their firms more efficient; streamline client intake, case management, and document drafting; and automate day-to-day tasks, such as keeping track of time and creating client bills. 

“When I posed these questions to Emily and Debbie, we brainstormed on how we could incorporate tech-infused workshops in the incubator, but also in the classroom, so that law students could be better prepared for the legal careers of today,“ says Young. 

As a result of this initiative, Ginsberg and Barney visit first-year legal writing classes three times each year to teach advanced Microsoft Word skills—such as styles, headings, pagination, tables of contents, and tables of authorities—to every first-year law student. 

Young wanted to incorporate tech-infused training to her Legal Writing 3 course for second-year students, so she invited Ginsberg to teach advanced legal tech skills and give students a refresher on Word. After the course, Ginsberg received applause of gratitude from students. “You’ve just made my life easier!” one student exclaimed. 

Today, Ginsberg and Barney visit upper-level Legal Writing courses frequently to help students with their legal tech skills. 

“This year I’ve had several students from all different years tell me they wish they'd gotten this training in their undergraduate years or on the job because it's saved them so much time,” says Barney. 

Students also have access to Procertas, an online learning platform, to hone and build their skills in Word, Microsoft Excel, Acrobat Pro, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Clio, a law practice management software, to learn how to use the technology to keep track of billable hours and to create client bills.

Additionally, Barney and Ginsberg hold tech training for students in the 1L Your Way Program, and Barney shares her expertise in marketing and web development to help Solo and Small Practice Incubator participants create a brand and website for their new law firms. 

“We’re always listening to our students and learning about trends in the legal profession to see how to provide better training,” says Barney. “An award that recognizes the innovation our work involves is much appreciated. We hope it also shows how our work fits into the university’s goal of equipping students with practical skills that help them succeed now and in their careers.” 

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