General Tips for Teaching
Email and Internet
We are entering a whole new world of teaching.
Many of the tips which appear here may not apply to the lawyer(s) you
This list was put together after a series
of many hours of meetings with students at the University of West Los
Angeles School of Law and San Fernando College of Law. The names of
those who worked hard and spent many hours to contribute to this list
and the curricula follows this list. JP Rems a California Senior Lawyer
was and is invaluable.
We ask you to immediately communicate via
email or list serve any problems you are having. You are also encouraged
to make any suggestion you feel might help so that the other mentors
in the program can apply your solutions. To enroll in the List Serv,
In many respects, senior lawyers are no different
from seniors who are not lawyers or lawyers who are not seniors. In
many respects they are very different. Senior lawyers are typically
much more educated than other seniors and as lawyers also have a fairly
good understanding that law offices depend on being modern.
Unfortunately, many of the lawyers who graduated
law school in the 1940's, 50's, 60's, and even early 70's were taught
"Real lawyers don't touch keyboards." Lawyers and para legals
often flatly stated that they refused to do any typing for their own
work or the work of others. There was a social stigma attached to doing
any typing, which was treated as a low-level clerical job. Lawyers and
para legals used secretaries who did the typing or sent the materials
to a word processing person. The Senior Lawyer may not even be aware
of this subconscious equating a key board to a low level function and
may proudly proclaim that they have someone to do their clerical work
including typing and email.
Lawyers who graduated law school in the late
70's and beyond typically grew up with computer games and keyboards
and have no psychological problems to overcome in order to use a keyboard.
Senior lawyers generally do not want to learn
technology in a classroom setting. They want one on one personalized
individualized teaching. Many are afraid that others will learn more
quickly than they and will not want to be embarrassed by a young person
catching on to something in a few moments for which they may require
much more time. There may be a fear of failure.
Specific tips for specific situations:
1. Introduce yourself. Be relatively brief
and give the senior what amounts to a resume. Learn all you can about
the senior before the first lesson. Search them out in the various search
engines, legal directories, state bar records, etc. You can find their
college and law school through Martindale Hubble among other sources.
2. You will need to know their law school, undergraduate, university,
bar association memberships, especially national and state and local
organizations to give them links to those organizations.
3. Explain that the lessons can be at any location the senior prefers,
but that the lawyer's office would be the best place, using the lawyer's
computer and systems and that the school's computer lab would be the
second best place. Explain that the computer lab at the school has high
speed Internet. Explain that the lawyer's home is also a possibility
if the lawyer has high speed Internet. Explain that with high speed
internet you can reduce much of the time that is wasted simply waiting
for connections. Most seniors are relatively impatient and don't like
to wait to be accommodated, and a "less waiting" feature will
probably be more attractive to them. If there are no other choices,
a public library can be used, but that there is no privacy and you may
be limited to 20 or 30 minute sessions.
4. Explain that computer phobia or techno phobia is neither new nor
confined to seniors. Computer phobia is found in every law office and
every business. Many people are afraid that they will not be able to
"keep up" or learn new procedures and new equipment. Every
new piece of machinery in the law office caused fears at the time. The
steel tipped pen, the manual typewriter, the electric typewriter, mimeograph
machines, photo copy machines, fax machines, word processors, multi
party telephone systems, cell phones, and computers all in their time
caused techno phobia. All were eventually conquered. Computer phobia
is simply one of the newer forms of equipment causing phobias. Learning
to use a computer for email, the internet and document creation is much
simpler than learning to drive a car or than learning to type.
5. Ask them what they already know about computers, email and the internet.
6. Ask them if they have ever tried in the past to learn email or the
internet and what was the result of that effort or efforts. Were there
any special problems?
7. Ask them to show you what they already know.
8. Ask them if there is something in particular they want to learn.
9. Ask who does their email for them at the office or at home.
10. Encourage them to keep a notebook in order to jot down what they
are learning if that helps them to learn. (Some people learn best when
they can read what they are learning.)
11. Encourage them to jot down any questions they have for you, either
while you are teaching them or when you are not present, between lessons.
12. You may wish to consider giving them a copy of this list.
13. Take a few moment to explain confidentiality, i.e., that you will
not repeat their name nor their questions, so they need not be embarrassed.
If they want you to help them with medical research on a problem (a
distinct possibility) that you will not discuss their problem, likewise
if they want you to teach them how to check stock prices or an Internet
brokerage account, you won't reveal their confidences.
14. Take a few moments to reassure them that learning to use a computer
for email and the Internet is relatively simple. Tell them that something
which may seem complex at first will soon become simple and fun.
15. Remind them that the computer is just a dumb stupid machine that
only do what it is programmed to do when ordered by an individual to
16. Ask if there is a person in the office or at home who can help them
if help is needed and you are not available.
17. Ask them if they already have an email address or need one. Tell
them they can have an address at senior lawyers.org for free. Remind
them they can always start over by going to the home page of www.seniorlawyers.org.
18. Be aware of the "Light Switch" syndrome. When they turn
on a light they see the light or appliance go on instantly and when
they turn it off they see it go out instantly. They might get upset
and concerned when they don't see something happen instantly when they
use a switch or click on the mouse or enter a command. They are not
used to not seeing anything happen when they turn the computer on or
off or having to wait for the "Booting up" or shutting down
process to occur. Let them know that the gurgling noises they hear in
the computer are simply the sounds of the command being carried out,
not of plumbing gone bad.
19. At all times exercise patience, patience and more patience. Compliment
them when the do something successfully.
20. Repeatedly tell them that they cannot "hurt" the computer.
A keyboarding or other mistake will not damage the computer. The may
be terribly afraid of causing damage.
21. Encourage them to play solitaire. This will give them hand-eye-mouse
coordination practice. They can practice this in between lessons.
22. Understand that the mouse can be extremely difficult if the senior
doesn't have manual dexterity and or bad eye sight. Hand eye coordination
with a mouse may require patient training.
23. Encourage use of a mouse with a roller feature. Teach them to use
the roller feature to expand the word processing and some other items
to see better. Show them the zoom feature for enlarging type size.
24. Make the icons bigger if necessary. Use Start/Settings/Control Panel/Display.
Set at 800x600.
25. Teach then how to use the browser, minimize, expand, close and back.
26. Teach the difference between back and close.
27. Teach left hand click as opposed to left hand double click and right
28. Try to avoid right click except to show them that right click is
not left click.
29. Pop-ups often frighten a senior. They are afraid they did something
wrong. They often cannot get rid of the pop up. Teach them to drag pop-ups
down and to the left in order to close the window with the pop up using
the x box.
30. The senior may have trouble calling the desktop a desktop. It may
help to refer to "the screen" on the monitor instead of "the
desk top." The senior may think that the desktop is simply the
top of the desk.
31. Encourage the use of the printer, even for things you personally
would not bother printing. The lawyer will feel good if they can hold
a piece of paper with something they found or created.
32. Show them how they can print from the Internet. You can take them
to this list at www.seniorlawyers.org and show them how to print it.
33. Demonstrate how to "turn on" and "turn off"
the monitor, printer and computer. Show them that each piece of equipment
(the computer, the monitor, the printer, the scanner, etc.) may have
its own on-off switch to get power. Demonstrate that each piece of equipment
may also require additional steps, including the start and shut down
commands. Demonstrate that there may be a time lag between clicking
or entering the command and the command being done. (To overcome the
"light switch" syndrome.)
34. Demonstrate the "three finger salute" of alt control delete
when the computer freezes. Again emphasize that they can't hurt the
computer, it will correct itself when it reboots.
35. Do not allow the senior to become frustrated or stressed. Do not
be concerned over how many times you must go over something until the
senior feels comfortable and can perform the task. YOU MUST PROCEED
AT THE SENIOR'S SPEED, NOT YOUR SPEED.
36. If the senior know how to type on a typewriter, compare the similarities
between the keyboard for the computer and the keys of a typewriter.
Demonstrate how the cursor can be moved with the scroll feature and
how the scroll feature can move up and down.
37. If they know how to use a typewriter, explain how the keyboard and
the typewriter are similar. Both have a capitals feature. The typewriter
has the Shift lock key which stays down until relieved and the shift
key on the typewriter which bounces back immediately. The keyboard has
a CAP LOCK button which stays in force after stroking until stroked
again, and has a light on the upper right of the keyboard which stays
lit so long as the capitals feature is functioning. The typewriter has
a backspace which backs up one space but does not erase anything. The
keyboard has a backspace key which erases going backward so long as
it is held down until released. The keyboard has a delete key which
erases forward so long as held down until released.
38. Encourage daily communication by email between yourself and the
senior. If the senior does not reply to your email, call the senior
and tell the senior that there is an email waiting for them and they
should send a reply acknowledging the email.
39. Show the senior how the cursor, when placed on a toolbar feature,
will give an explanation of what that feature does.
40. Bring a blank floppy. Give it to the senior as a gift to be used
to demonstrate the differences between a C drive and an A drive, and
what the holes in the computer are for and how something can be saved
onto a disc. You may also wish to bring a CD just to demonstrate the
differences between a floppy and a CD and where they are inserted into
41. Explain the help feature of programs and that information that used
to be kept in paper booklets is now often found in the help feature.
42. Be sensitive to signs that the senior may be tiring. Ask the senior
if they would like to call it a day and continue at the next lesson
or as a practice session during the week.
43. Try to get a commitment from the senior to practice at least 10
minutes per day between sessions.
Above all, patience, patience, patience. Allow
the senior to progress through the various steps at is or her own pace.
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