Caruso Law School Computer/Technology Recommendations

If you are just starting out at Caruso Law, or heading back to school and looking to upgrade your system, please review the below information before purchasing your new laptop!

Nearly all Pepperdine Caruso Law Students use laptops for class, exams, and homework. While laptops are not required, they can be a very valuable tool in law school.  The following recommendations take into account services and applications that are often used in conjunction with Caruso Law classes and other curricular and extra curricular activities.

The Information Services team at Caruso Law provides assistance in configuring your laptop for the network. Please think very carefully before choosing a laptop brand or other hardware/software choice outside the recommended list, as you may be limiting your potential sources of support.

As a law student your laptop computer is a key tool.  Please keep this in mind as you think about how you will use it, the software you install on it, the websites you visit with it, the files/attachments you choose to download and where you store it when you are not using it.  You will want it to be functioning at optimum levels.  Theft, drops, malware, and other untoward variables will detract from your laptop’s ability to help you succeed in law school.

Below are the minimum Computer/Technology Recommendations:

  • Internet: Strongly recommend a rock solid internet connection with a minimum 20 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up.  This exceeds the minimum requirements for synchronous Zoom sessions (the absolute minimum is 600 kbps in both directions while recommended minimum is 1.5 mbps) but note that if you share your internet connection you will need more bandwidth to ensure a reliable, continuous connection.  Also please note that the age of your hardware (router, modem, cabling, computer) will play a significant role in reliability.
  • Manufacturer/Model: Dell Latitude Series/Apple MacBook Pro or MacBook Air
      • NOTE: We strongly discourage the use of Microsoft Surface computers.  Microsoft Surface systems may provide some challenges with ExamSoft software, this software is used by most students to take exams at Caruso Law and is used by the California Board of Bar Examiners for the state bar exam … along with most other state jurisdictions. 
  • Display: Minimum 11” screen – for improved readability, consider 13” or larger
  • Operating System: Windows 10 /Mac OS 11 or better
  • Processor: Intel i5 processor, Apple M1 processor, or greater (Make sure your system is compatible with ExamSoft)
  • RAM: 12GB – 16GB is recommended
  • Solid State Drive (SSD): 120GB or higher
  • Integrated WiFi or WiFi adapter: Newer is often if not always better
  • Media Drives: None necessary, but it’s always good to have a few flash drives handy. Keep in mind that these don’t last forever, don’t rely upon one flash drive to keep your work safe. AND have a backup solution.  LESS DOWN TIME
  • Battery Life: 4-6 hours, much longer is much better.  MORE UP TIME.
  • Spare Laptop Charger: If you plan to bring your laptop with you, keep one for home and one for travel.  If you lose one you have a spare.  NO DOWN TIME.
  • Warranty: 3 year parts/on-site labor. LESS DOWN TIME.
  • Security Lock: Don’t ever walk away from your laptop if it isn’t secured.  LESS DOWN TIME
  • Malware Protection Software: Make sure you have Anti-Malware installed.  Use the firewall that is build into your computer’s operating system.  MORE UP TIME.
  • Personal Printer: We strongly recommend HP Printers with an extra toner cartridge.  NO DOWN TIME.

Please visit the Minimum System Requirements page for the ExamSoft/Examplify system requirements to ensure that your system is compliant.

The Dell Latitude series is designed for a professional enterprise user and is not what you will find in a consumer-focused retail store.  We have found these systems to be very reliable and strongly recommend them to both students and faculty for their personal computing needs.  This recommendation is not meant to dissuade you from other manufacturers or even other lines of Dell computers, however, we know this line to be a great fit for a law student who needs a solid, reliable system for three years of challenging work (plus the Bar exam).

We do not recommend tablet-based systems. Nor do we recommend netbooks or Chromebooks.  You are certainly welcome to buy them but we don’t believe they will meet your needs in law school.  In fact, these systems do not work with ExamSoft Examplify at all so that should be a compelling reason to avoid the Chromebook/tablet acquisition unless you already have a serviceable laptop that meets the ExamSoft minimum requirements. Essentially, you can bring any device you want to law school. However, if you want to take exams and keep pace with the challenges of law school, you should purchase a high-quality, business class laptop, not a cheap off-brand version found on sale at a big box retailer. Remember, you want a system that is reliable and will last you through completing the BAR exam. You don’t want a machine that may crash in the middle of an exam!

MacBook ProThe Pepperdine University Computer Store (an online referral site) offers generous discounts to Pepperdine University students on software (MS Office is no cost to Pepperdine students and employees) and hardware. These discounts are often more than the typical education discounts that you will find online. The Computer Store can be accessed 24/7 online.

For purchasing as an enrolled Pepperdine student, please visit the Pepperdine University IT Department’s discounts for students web page or call Pepperdine University Tech Central at (310) 506-4811.

Please note that using a computer on the University network requires that you agree to the University Computer and Network Usage policy.

Graduation and Email

Hurray! You’ve graduated (or will soon graduate) from Pepperdine Caruso School of Law! The last thing on your mind is your Pepperdine Email account, but there are some things you need to know…

NOTE: You may have heard that Pepperdine had a service through the Alumni office that provided a Pepperdine Alumni branded email account for life from Google. This service has recently changed a bit in that it will not include the entire Google Suite.

  • The following information applies to all students graduating from any program at Pepperdine: Student email accounts, WaveNet, and other network-related resources are governed by university policy and managed by the university IT department. Student email accounts, WaveNet access, printing, Zoom, etc. will be deactivated 90 days after the date of the commencement ceremony.  That’s the actual graduation ceremony, not your official graduation date (that will be printed on your diploma). Note that in Spring 2020, the graduation ceremony was delayed by the COVID-19 Pandemic until Spring 2021 but those graduating in Spring 2020 still have a May 2020 graduation date on their diplomas.
  • Recent graduates will receive automated notifications in their student email inboxes 90, 60 and 30 days before account deactivation.  
  • After graduation a process starts that begins with your status changing from student to alumnus.  This process involves a file transfer that takes place sometimes several days (up to four weeks) after graduation.  Sure, you have the diploma but the system doesn’t recognize you as an alumnus until that file is transferred from the student system to the alumni system. Typically this takes place about a month after the date of your graduation.  That’s when all the automated stuff starts up.
  • On the fifteenth day of the month immediately after your graduation date you will get an email to your student email account.  This is a reminder message to encourage you to move out of your student email account and other Google-based services hosted for you by Pepperdine.
  • Note again, that student email accounts are disabled 90 days after the student’s commencement date (the day of the graduation ceremony).
  • Once an account is deactivated the data/emails in that account it is not recoverable.
email

You will want to use a personal email address going forward. We recommend that you use something professional, perhaps you already have such a personal email address. If you don’t, we recommend creating an email account on Google’s Gmail service.

If you plan to migrate your email from your Pepperdine Google email account to a personal gmail account you will want to ensure that you have a personal gmail account set up first. Then review these instructions all the way to the end before moving forward with the migration.

Part of this process should include your migration of the data from your Pepperdine Google Drive to your personal drive space. If you are migrating to another Google account, keep in mind that you may run into space limits on your targeted storage system.

Resources from Pepperdine’s IT department on this topic:

Account Changes When Transitioning from Student to Alumni Status
https://community.pepperdine.edu/it/alumni/
Transfer or Download Your Google Workspace Data(for new graduates)https://community.pepperdine.edu/it/alumni/email/datatransfer.htm

Alumni Email
https://community.pepperdine.edu/it/alumni/email/

After your student email address expires, no mail will be received at your student address. To make a smooth transition, we recommend:

  1. Set up your new personal (and professional) email address immediately when you get that email noted above.
  2. Forward your mail in Wavenet to a new email address — that new personal gmail address or another one you prefer. (Note that forwarding will only work up until your student email account is suspended.)
  3. Set up an out-of-office message in your Pepperdine Student Email (accessed through Wavenet) account informing all your contacts of your graduation and of your new email address. Log into Wavenet click on Options, and then update your Out of Office Assistant.

Just Do It: Mock Exam in Examplify

Don’t forget to do at least one Mock Exam in Examplify.

Note: Like potato chips, more is better. So you can do as many as 20 Mock Exams if you like. So do more. It’s better. Just remember, when you upload your new mock exam answer, it overwrites your previous submission.

The Mock Exam not only tests whether your laptop is ready for exams using the ExamSoft Examplify software, it will increase your familiarity with the Examplify software and how and where to find the various features of this product. It is not intended to be used as a study tool. You can type study answers in a word processing software of your own choice.

Mock Exam – scroll down to the video — it’s keyed so you can go directly to the Mock Exam part of the video.

Exam Instructions

Adobe Acrobat Pro and Editing PDFs

We are often asked about a reduced cost or free license for Acrobat Pro for students, faculty and staff.

If you are using a Pepperdine University-owned computer, chances are it already has Acrobat Pro installed according to the University’s site license with Adobe.

If you are not using such a computer (note that the Law Library lab computers and the CDO student computers have Acrobat Pro installed), and you need/want to edit PDFs, you will need to find/install your own PDF editor.

Pepperdine University does not have special pricing for Acrobat Pro for use on a personally-owned computer.

HOWEVER, there is a regular Adobe educational discount that students, faculty, and staff would qualify for. That product is significantly reduced from their regular pricing. 
You can link to the educational pricing for Adobe Acrobat here:  https://www.adobe.com/acrobat/pricing/students.html

Note that Adobe has made their entire Creative Cloud product very attractively priced when compared with the price for just Acrobat alone. For just a few dollars more a month you can have access to many more premium products from Adobe. If that isn’t interesting to you… then you will probably want to investigate other solutions…

You should also note that most word processors and other software will output in PDF format.  Granted, that won’t help much when you want to edit or modify PDFs but there are alternatives to Acrobat Pro that may be helpful to you and will be much cheaper.

There is a free service from Adobe called Acrobat online where you must create an account with Adobe to use their “free” software.  We have not tested this but it appears that they will use your Adobe account information to market paid services to you: https://www.adobe.com/acrobat/online/pdf-editor.html

Finally, you may find some success in online guides/websites that review PDF editors. As an example, Toms Guide is a pretty well established site that we refer to now and then.  They have a guide to PDF editors that may be helpful to you if you don’t want to pay for the Acrobat Pro subscription or sign up for Adobe marketing with their “free” offering: https://www.tomsguide.com/best-picks/best-pdf-editors

Finally, if you have a Mac, you will find that the built-in product “Preview” is a great tool for annotating your PDFs if that is all you need to do.

Free and discounted software for students: https://lawtech.pepperdine.edu/free-and-discounted-software-for-students/

DO NOT Update your Computer’s operating system before Using ExamSoft Examplify!

There are times over the course of the school year when Microsoft and Apple release updates to their operating systems. Please DO NOT apply these updates immediately if you are planning to use your computer to take mid-term and final exams, because some may not be compatible with ExamSoft.

Please check with this site: lawtech.pepperdine.edu or our vendor’s site: examsoft.com before your update your OS.  If you have questions, please do not hesitate to check in with the support desk in the Harnish Law Library or send an email to support@law.pepperdine.ed

Pepperdine Caruso Law uses a secure exam software to administer exams from ExamSoft.com. This software is sensitive to changes in operating systems because it is designed to ensure a totally secure exam environment.  When there is a change to your OS, ExamSoft may no longer function properly.

If you have a Microsoft Windows computer, Windows 10 is your “OS” or operating system.  If you have an Apple Mac computer, then you are running some variant of macOS (pronounced “mack oh ess”).

Tablets in Law School? Not So Much.

While the tablet revolution is changing the way many people think about computing and has turned upside down many aspects of how companies deliver services, these changes have not fully made it into the law school experience.

It’s true that with a keyboard, a tablet can be a great tool for typing, even outlining in a law school class but a tablet still is not a system that is supported for computer-based examinations here at Caruso Law.

At Caruso Law, students are not required to use a computer for exams but we do encourage it and you will find that we use the same system that the California Bar Exam uses (as well as many other state jurisdictions).

The iPad, Android Tablets, and any other tablet-based systems are strongly discouraged for law students as a primary computing platform.

It is our intention to guide law students toward the best possible computing experience during their time in law school. As a law student you have a significant challenge in front of you (law school).  Because of the intense nature of the law school experience you should have the best computer suited for your needs.  This is not to say that you should not own a tablet at all, rather feel free to add a tablet to your stable of tools that includes a reliable laptop.

When taking notes in class, preparing outlines for study, drafting documents, and especially when taking exams, law students should have a reliable laptop computer. Tablet systems have come a long way but are not supported for the administration of exams at Pepperdine University School of Law.

Law students are strongly encouraged to acquire and maintain a reliable laptop computer while in law school.  Use of a tablet system (iOS, Android, Windows RT on an MS Surface (cheap but ancient and not supported anywhere anymore)) is strongly discouraged and is not supported for exam administrations.

Security: Protect Your Laptop and Yourself!

sophosbadgeViruses, worms, ad-ware and spyware, and theft, are examples of SEVERE risks to your computer in a public, networked environment. You MUST PERFORM THE STEPS LISTED BELOW if you wish to use your computer at Pepperdine or you could face repercussions including loss of network access, data loss, and system failure.

  1. Maintain up-to-date virus protection software on your computer. The University’s IT department supports Sophos for faculty and staff. For students, University IT recommends Microsoft Defender (no cost) for Windows and Sophos AntiVirus for Macs (home version, no cost).
  2. Regularly install all Critical Updates from http://update.microsoft.com. You should begin checking Microsoft Update constantly, starting now. You can also configure your Windows computer to check automatically for updates every time you connect to the Internet. NOTE: if you have a Mac, you will want to check with ExamSoft before updating your Mac’s operating system because of the potential for conflicts with Examplify — causing you problems with taking your exams on your computer.
  3. Keep your browser up to date! A great browser-based tool for checking how current your web-related tools are is Qualys Browser Check.
  4. Keep your computer’s operating system and office products up-to-date
  5. Do not install peer-to-peer file-sharing software or other high-risk programs. Attempt to eliminate any programs that might already be installed by running a spyware/adware removal product such as Spybot Search & Destroy or Ad-aware.
  6. Buy and use a computer security cable for your computer to lock it down when it is not attended. (Alarm-equipped cables are NOT recommended.) We highly recommend that you never leave your belongings alone, especially in quiet areas like the Law Library, as the School of Law is open to the public. Kensington has a website that will help you find a security cable that was made for your laptop. Note that there are currently at least three different kinds of security cable ports on laptops today so you’ll want to pay attention and select the one that fits your laptop. (Pepperdine Caruso Law does not endorse or recommend Kensington locking cables to the exclusion of other  similar solutions, however we have had very positive experience with Kensington security cables for over two decades and find that their products are reliable).
  7. Do not click on links in unsolicited email messages.
  8. Do not open an email attachment unless you are expecting it or have checked with the sender.

How to not miss important email messages!

As a student at Caruso Law, you will find that there are a number of essential, critical, and/or otherwise consequential messages that are sent to your Pepperdine student email account by members of the Caruso Law administration team over the course of the school year.

To ensure that you don’t miss these important messages, you may want to highlight them in some way. One easy way to do this is by using an email filter.

To create an effective filter you will create a “rule” in your Pepperdine Google Mail inbox using either the sender’s email address and/or significant terms to have Google Mail tag or sort or file the relevant messages for you. Your rule can automatically apply a “star” to the message in your message list and/or add it to a folder using “labels.”

When you create your rule(s) you will need to have some specific terms and/or email addresses that Google Mail will look for.

An important address that you’ll want to use is the one that the Dean’s Suite uses: lawdeansuite@pepperdine.edu

Also you will want to watch for: ExamSoft and Examplify because these terms will inevitably be related to critical messages associated with mid term and final exams.

An important address that you’ll want to watch for is the one that the Dean’s Suite uses: lawdeansuite@pepperdine.edu

Other terms you will want to watch for are: ExamSoft and Examplify because these terms will inevitably be related to critical messages associated with mid term and final exams.

Go to this site for information on how to create your filter(s) to ensure you don’t miss important information sent to you via your Pepperdine email account.

Laptop/Travel Preparation – Law Faculty

If you are planning a trip and will bring your university laptop with you, there are a few things you should do before you get too far along in your planning:

  1. Contact the Information Services Team to schedule a pre-trip checkup of your university laptop
  2. If you are going out of the country, you may need to plan for an adapter or other means to plug in and charge the laptop. Here’s a pretty good resource for checking the power plug requirements around the world: https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/
  3. Consider your internet connectivity options in that location. Pepperdine offers a WiFi service called “EduRoam” that will enable you to use a trusted network at participating locations. The important thing here is to set up your EduRoam account from a trusted network (your office) before you leave.
  4. Make sure you have backups of your important data. Part of the checkup mentioned in #1 above will include a review of your installed auto backup system.
  5. You will also want to ensure that you have your active research and any course materials synchronized to Google Drive. If you need help with that, the Information Services Team will be glad to assist.
  6. Familiarize yourself with Wifi Calling if you are traveling outside of the country and may not be able to make international calls, or if you are traveling to an area where cell service may be limited. Wifi Calling is a great option if you do not wish to pay for international cell service or may only have access to wifi and not strong cell signal.
  7. If you will need to sign into your device with Secure Connect but will not have access to a secondary device, consider generating one time pass codes to take with you so you can still log in. You can generate multiple codes, each of which will last up to 90 days and will allow you to sign into your account once without another connected device.
  8. Consider how you plan to carry your computer with you… will you use a laptop bag or will you check it inside your luggage? If you plan to carry it with you, note that you must remove it from its bag at the TSA screening checkpoint.