Florida State / College of Law / Admitted Students / Laptop Requirement

Laptop Requirement

Florida State University College of Law offers a secured wireless network for student use throughout all buildings. We believe that it is important to prepare our students to be technologically sophisticated in the use of computers and computerized legal research.

Among the features and applications available to students are the following:

  • Classrooms are wired with electrical power outlets allowing students to use notebook computers for note-taking without reliance on battery power.
  • There is wireless network connectivity throughout virtually all areas of the law school complex. While on the wireless network, students can connect to online legal research services and the Internet without being bound to an outlet.
  • Florida State College of Law also provides each student with an e-mail address and personal Web space.
  • All students are licensed to use the two principal computer-assisted legal research services, Lexis and Westlaw. They are available to all law students beginning in the second semester of the student's first year. The law school provides training courses in Lexis and Westlaw research.
  • Communications to students from the faculty and staff are made via e-mail. Students can access their e-mail either by wireless network connection in the law school or from off-campus via the Internet.
  • Many faculty members make use of computer-generated visual presentations such as PowerPoint in class. In many cases these presentations are also available on the law school's Web site for downloading by students.
  • We support current versions of Microsoft Word. We also maintain a help desk and employ student consultants, in addition to a full-time staff of computer professionals, to assist students, faculty and staff with computer issues.

All incoming students are required to have access to a laptop computer which can access the law school's wireless network. These computers will be used for legal research, computer-based exams, and in-class participation.

If you already have a laptop running Microsoft Windows 7 or Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, you may continue to use it as a student at Florida State College of Law. The standard on the wireless network is currently 802.11g, common in all current laptops. Please be aware that compatibility problems may exist because it is not possible to test all models of computers and wireless cards with the wireless network. It may be possible that you have hardware with irresolvable compatibility issues. You should also consider the age of your current laptop. If it is more than two years old, it may work well for you now, but will probably not last throughout your law school career.

If you are purchasing a new laptop, we highly recommend you stay with the major, nationally recognized brands. Dell, HP, IBM, Samsung, Asus and Macintosh are all known to make good, reliable machines. However, quality can taper off rapidly when you get into the less well-known brands. Because laptop computers are commonly jostled, and because repairs on laptops tend to be very expensive, we urge you to also purchase at least a three-year extended warranty. While the computer support department will attempt to assist you with some laptop computer problems, we cannot provide hardware support.

A well-padded carrying case is advised. A Kensington lock to secure the laptop while unattended may also be a good value. No laptop should be left unattended and unsecured.

Connecting to the wireless network

For information on how to configure your computer to connect to the wireless network, students are encouraged to visit http://its.fsu.edu/Network/NetworkMainCampus/WiFi.

Financial aid

Students who will be seeking financial aid should be aware that the cost of a laptop computer can be added to the student's budget for purposes of computing financial aid under the guidelines of the U.S. Office of Education. Federal Regulations now allow the University to take the documented cost of your computer purchased for your studies into account when determining your eligibility for loan assistance. For the vast majority of students, the increased eligibility will be in the form of private student loan funding. If you have questions about the financial aid application process, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at 850.644.2310 for detailed information, before purchasing your laptop.

Laptop requirements

Microsoft Windows based laptop computers are recommended. We do however provide limited support for Macintosh laptops. In order for your laptop to fulfill the requirement, it must have the following

  • A modern, Windows-based or Macintosh operating system.
    Windows 7 or higher or Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion or higher is the recommended operating system.
  • A wireless network card that conforms to the 802.11g specification.
    The IEEE's 802.11g standard is designed as a higher-bandwidth — 54 megabits per second successor to the popular 802.11b standard which tops out at 11 megabits per second.
  • Microsoft Office 2013 for Windows or Office 2011 for the Mac OS.
    All of these versions of Office include PowerPoint, which many of your professors will use in class. Most vendors will offer Microsoft Office at a reduced academic rate to students.

Summary of laptop recommendations

The specifications below are intended to help guide you in the purchase of a new laptop. You are not required to purchase a laptop that meets or exceeds these specifications, but doing so will help to ensure that your laptop remains useful throughout your law school career.

  • Laptop computer with at least an Intel Core i5 processor or equivalent AMD processor.
    You will primarily use your laptop for word processing and online legal research using the Internet. Neither of these applications is particularly processor intensive, so there's no need to pay a premium for a top-of-the-line processor.
  • Windows 7 or Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.
  • A 120 gigabyte or larger hard drive.
    We strongly recommend that you frequently backup your notes and documents to another disk or by using an online backup utility such as Carbonite, Google Drive or Amazon.
  • At least 4GB of RAM (memory).
    Again, more is better. This is the corner that most people cut, but we feel at least 4GB is necessary for your laptop to have a three-year useful lifespan. It would be much better to cut hard drive or processor speed than memory. Every new version of Windows or Office has required significantly more memory than previous versions, and we don't see this trend changing.
  • Three-year extended warranty.
    A warranty package usually adds two years parts and labor to the manufacturer's warranty. Some companies offer an optional screen damage warranty that covers the replacement of broken screens. There are many different companies that offer extended warranties, some of which even cover theft. Shop carefully for the warranty that best meets your needs.
  • A laptop carrying case.

You may want to consider some added options, such as an extra battery, a security cable and/or theft insurance.

Answers to questions

If you have questions about computing at the law school, you can contact the Florida State College of Law Computer Help Desk at 850.644.7735

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