To: All Incoming Cornell Law Students

Re: Computers and Cornell Law School

From: Paul R. Weber, Director, Information Technologies

Date: August 01, 2020

All Cornell Law School students must own a computer for law school use. A significant majority of students use a laptop for taking notes and drafting papers, and extracurricular activities and programs. Additionally, all law school exams are administered electronically. Your laptop must meet the minimum requirements noted below for exam purposes.

Exam4 currently supports:(What OS Version do I have?)

  • Windows 10 (Home, Pro, Edu and Enterprise) (including “Fall 2019 Update (v1909)”)
  • Windows 8.1 (Home, Pro and Enterprise)
  • macOS 10.15 Catalina
  • macOS 10.14.6 Mojave
  • macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra

(Please review the Extegrity Exam4 web site before purchasing a computer as requirements may change)

As with the practice of law, the business of being a law student is almost entirely computer based. Many of you already own personal computers and are wondering how you will use them in law school. Others are contemplating an upgrade or purchasing a computer for the first time. This memo is intended to answer some of the questions you may have at this point.

Is owning a computer required?  How much will I need one?

Yes. Owning a computer is required and owning a personal printer is strongly recommended. A computer is an invaluable writing and note-taking tool. Most Law School writing assignments implicitly require close, careful, and repeated drafting and redrafting, and the editing power of a computer is a significant help. Most legal research is conducted online using services such as Westlaw and Lexis, online research guides, and ebooks. Course documents and assigned library resources are distributed through the campus Canvas websites requiring students to view and print course material online. In addition, information about what is going on in the Law School is delivered electronically, and the student body makes extensive use of email as a means of communication.  All exams are computerized and during this time of Covid-19 some classes may be held online.

Should I have a laptop or desktop?

Our recommendation is to acquire a laptop. All Law School exams are offered on computers and a laptop will be necessary to take advantage of this. Also, a laptop will be more convenient for use in the variety of contexts available in the Law School. Because the Law School uses wireless network technology, a properly equipped laptop will also make the internet a mobile resource for you.

Access to the Law School’s network and other Cornell resources is available to students with laptops through Cornell’s RedRover wireless system. Wireless is available throughout the Law School and campus.

Various software services are offered through the network, including access to Westlaw and Lexis and other essential research databases, word processing, various legal-instruction programs, electronic email, and a wide variety of other programs.

Can I access the network resources of the Law School from home?

The University, through Cornell Information Technologies (CIT) offers Internet access from the dorm rooms as part of the ResNet program. This service allows students direct Internet access and access to the Law School’s network. There is a per semester charge for this service. For more information concerning pricing for the above CIT services please contact the CIT Helpdesk at (607) 255-8990 or Residence Hall Network Service hotline at (607) 255-9627.

Please read CIT’s NUBB billing structure for the use of Internet and other CIT services.

Students living off campus will want to contract with an Internet service provider (ISP) for Internet access. Current ISP costs vary by technology and vendor. Ithaca has high-speed cable access through Spectrum cable, which can be arranged at a higher cost. Students using an ISP will be able to access certain Law School resources, email, websites, library ebooks, and library databases.

I want to buy a laptop, what do you recommend?

When purchasing a computer for your own use, questions concerning preferences, affordability, life expectancy, and options should all be weighed. The following section summarizes some of these considerations.

Any current system bought from a mainstream manufacturer should work in the Cornell environment. Technology continues to evolve at a very rapid pace, but a system that meet or exceeds the targets outlined should serve general needs for at least three years. Systems at the bottom of the current product line are often available at considerable savings but will have a shorter useful lifespan.

Minimum Laptop Recommendations:

  • Current UpToDate Mac or PC laptop (Core i5 processor, equivalent, or above)
  • Equipped with a Video Camera and Microphone
  • Wireless capable
  • Bluetooth (optional)
  • RAM: 8 GB minimum, 16 preferred, 32 best 
  • SDD Storage: 128GB minimum, 256 preferred, 512 best
  • Additional connection ports (USB, Thunderbolt, USB-C)
  • Microphone Headset (Wireless or Wired) required

The Law School does not recommend any make or model or any specific source for purchases. Laptops from Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, and Apple are good choices. These can be purchased via the Internet, mail order, or in retail outlets. An excellent source for information about what is available are the following websites: PC WORLD and CNET. Also, you may want to look at what the Cornell Campus Store has to offer. Cornell Campus store link:

Hardware breaks and accidents happen. You should consider a warranty and/or accidental coverage. Sometimes a warranty doesn’t cover accidental damage.

As noted above, we recommend that you buy your own printer. Inkjet and laser printers in the $100 – $500 range are widely available from Hewlett-Packard, Canon, Epson, and others. Owning a printer will help you avoid the crunch as last-minute writing deadlines approach.

Special Note: If you plan to use student loan funds allocated through our financial aid office to pay for a computer to use in law school, you should not make the purchase prior to August 1st, 2020. Your student budget, cost of attendance, can be adjusted to cover the cost of purchasing a new computer. Contact for details.

Word processing and electronic exams; what do you recommend?

The primary word processing package in use in the legal world is Microsoft Word. The exam software used by the Cornell Law School is the Extegrity Exam4 software package. Make sure and review the Cornell Information Technologies web site for more information about computing at Cornell.

Can I get discounts on software and hardware through Cornell?

Computer hardware is available at the Campus Store. You can review the selections online via the link above. Software, also available through the Campus Store, is often priced at substantial discounts made possible through site-volume educational licensing.

What about email?

Law students are given a Cornell University NET ID that doubles as an email address. The NET ID is issued by the University and will be mailed to new students before orientation with activation instructions.

Getting in touch

We hope that the above has been of some help to you. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to drop us an email. The Law School IT Helpdesk is in can be reached at