In an Aug. 13 article, the Philadelphia Inquirer featured Professor Karl Okamoto's ApprenNet, a two-year old company that aims at providing experiential learning opportunities online.
The article focused on one of ApprenNet's ventures, LawMeets, a web-based platform which teaches lawyering skills through virtual apprenticeships, allows students to post videos of themselves counseling “clients” on hypothetical scenarios and then receive feedback on their performance through a web-based voting device. The top-rated performances are reviewed by seasoned transactional lawyers, who provide feedback and a demonstration video of their own.
"We all know the best way to learn lots of things is to do them yourself," Okamoto told the Inquirer hoping that the program gives students the tools they need to excel in the real-world before graduation.
Students who have participated in the online meets report that they provide an unusually rich learning experience. Eamon Gallagher, a third year law student at the Earle Mack School of Law participating the school's Business and Entrepreneurship concentration, told the Inquirer that LawMeets helped him understand what really happens during business negotiations.
Faculty at 48 law schools asked to test LawMeets exercises in their classes after Okamoto presented the model at this year’s meeting of the Association of American Law Schools and several law firms have also begun using the model with junior associates.
The article also highlighted the $500,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation Okamoto will use to expand LawMeet, commenting that it is rare for a lawyer to receive such a grant and crediting Okamoto for his ambitious technological pursuit. LawMeets, ApprenNet and the grant were also highlighted in an Aug. 14 ABA Law Journal article.
Okamoto created LawMeets after launching the inaugural Transactional Lawyering Meet in 2010, which was the first competition anywhere that allowed students to test their deal-making skills against those of peers. Interest has spiraled in the competition, which this year will feature six regional meets that will feed into the National Transactional LawMeet here in 2013.