As a George Mason law student, you will make heavy use of computing resources including word processing, online legal research, and e-mail. The George Mason University School of Law has a mandatory laptop requirement for all incoming students. Many incoming law students may already own a laptop that meets this requirement, so this educational expense is not included in the standard Cost of Attendance (COA) for financial aid purposes. However, entering law students who need to purchase a laptop to meet the Law School’s program requirement may add the expenses of a new laptop computer, up to a maximum of $2,000, to the COA. In order to qualify, you must provide a cost estimate to Carol Brosseau, Financial Aid Law Counselor, in the George Mason Office of Student Financial Aid on the Fairfax Campus. If you have already borrowed the maximum amount in a Federal Unsubsidized Loan ($20,500) for the year, the additional cost will need to be borrowed through a Graduate PLUS Loan if you have eligibility. Laptop purchases must be made no later than the end of the first month of class. Ms. Brosseau can be reached at email@example.com or (703) 993-2345.
Macs vs. Windows PCs
The Law School and University fully support both Windows and Apple laptops.
Computer Specifications for a Laptop
We recommend name brands like Dell and Apple because of their excellent performance and extended warranties. Patriot Computers, a Mason-run computer store, provides information on recommended systems at http://compstore.gmu.edu. For more information, see www.law.gmu.edu/tech/purchasing.
The Law Library provides two small computing labs for law students with a total of 19 computers, including 15 Windows PCs and 4 iMacs. For more information, see the Labs FAQ.
The Law School has a wireless network that covers the entire building. Students use their Mason e-mail accounts to login, and the network will work with 802.11g and n cards. The wireless network is designed to complement and not replace the existing wired network. To get the fastest possible service, students should use the wired network where convenient. For more information, see Wireless Networking at the Law School.
Most of the carrels and tables in the Law Library, as well as most seats in the large classrooms are wired with electricity and Ethernet connections. In order to plug-in to the law school’s wired network, your laptop should be running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, or a current Mac operating system, and it must also have a "10 or 100 Base-T RJ45" Ethernet card installed. You will need to use your Mason e-mail account to log-in to the law school's network.
Word Processing Software
For word processing, we recommend that you use Microsoft Office. The university provides all Mason students with access to Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus at no cost through the Microsoft Student Advantage program. Currently enrolled student can download the Office from their MasonLive email account and install the program on up to five computers and five mobile devices. The software is free as long as you are a current student. Patriot Computers, which is located on the Fairfax campus, has good academic pricing on Microsoft and other software. For more information, they can be reached at 703-993-4100.
We strongly recommend that you use virus-protection software on your computer, particularly if you are a Windows user. As a Mason student, you will be able to download Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus free-of-charge from the University's web site.
If you intend to bring your laptop to the library or law school, consider purchasing a security cable. Every year, laptops that have been left unattended and unsecured are stolen. All library carrels have security loops installed on the underside of the carrels so you that can secure a laptop with a cable. Security cable kits range in price from $20 to $50. You can buy these kits at any computer store or over the Internet.
Mason will provide you with a free e-mail account (MASONLIVE) that you will be able to activate once you are registered for classes. Mason also provides a very effective and free anti-spam service that filters spam on Mason e-mail accounts. Right before orientation, you will be automatically subscribed to one of the law school’s student listservs. The listservs are one of the most important vehicles for communication within the law school, so you will need to check your Mason e-mail regularly.
LexisNexis, WESTLAW, and Bloomberg Law Accounts & Training
At orientation, you will be given free LexisNexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law passwords that will provide full access to these systems. Later in the fall semester and in the spring, you will receive training from the law librarians. The LRWA program and many of our professors use Westlaw’s TWEN to distribute assignments and other course information, so you will also be introduced to TWEN and given access during orientation.
Exams on Laptops
Many law professors allow their students to use a personal laptop to take essay exams. The Law School uses a product called ExamSoft which is made available to students free-of-charge. Exam answers are saved over the Internet to a remote server, so your laptop will need to have a network or wireless card. ExamSoft runs on 32-bit and 64-bit Versions of Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8, and Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), OS X 10.7 (Lion), OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion), 10.9 (Mavericks), and 10.10 (Yosemite). Please note that Windows emulators like Parallels, Virtual PC, or VMware MAY NOT be used with ExamSoft. ExamSoft does not support tablet or convertible devices other than Surface Pro 1, 2 & 3. Examsoft is also not available for use on iPads.
For More Information
Contact Law School Technology Services at 703-993-4855 or firstname.lastname@example.org.