William and Mary Law School

Buying Computers

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The Law School does not require students to own a computer, though most do. Common uses are what you might expect: word processing (to take notes, to write papers or exams), email, and Internet access.

Students in seminars sometimes present the results of a research project to other class members and for that purpose, might use a presentation program (e.g., Microsoft Power Point). All classrooms contain a networked PC for instructional use, however, with a full array of software including presentation programs, so that even in this case students would not find it necessary to own their own computer.

Laptop or Desktop?

Most law students use laptop computers, as they can be used in class for note-taking, as well as used in the library for research and writing. Desktop computers are used by many students as well, though obviously not practical to carry to the building. The Law Library has a computer lab with a large number of desktop PCs and two high-speed networked printers.

Use of these lab computers is "first-come, first served," but typically some seats are free throughout most of the day. More information about Law School computing labs is available on law.wm.edu/about/ourtechnology/labs_printing/.  The Main Campus IT Department has information regarding all of the public access computer labs available on campus at http://web.wm.edu/it/?id=122.

Buying Advice

No particular brand of hardware or software is required for any law school purpose. For typical law school tasks, such as writing papers, taking notes, using email, and the like, almost any personal computer will suffice. The main campus tech support staff is able to offer the most help to students with a laptop that was bought through the campus laptop purchase program (NB: laptop computers are required for undergraduates--they are not required for law students, but law students may choose to use campus purchasing options).

For laptops not bought through the campus program, the campus tech support staff is generally able to provide more help with Dell and Lenovo laptops than others because they have more experience with those two brands.

Finally, even though the campus is predominantly PC-oriented, and even though a majority of law students use PCs, a substantial number use Macs without difficulty. Many use other PC brands besides Dell and Lenovo as well.