Cutting a Digital Path


A new online portal helps students find their way

Every semester Fordham Law students consider many of the same questions as their predecessors did: How do I meet all the graduation requirements on time? Who is the best resource for advice on career planning? Whom should I email to collect financial aid refunds? Keeping track of this jumble of dates, deadlines, and internal and external contacts scattered across different web pages, portals, and emails can lead right into a labyrinth of stress and confusion for students.

But thanks to the new J.D. Experience, those days of anguish are over.

The J.D. Experience, Fordham Law’s new online program that debuted in the fall 2018 semester, serves as a centralized and personalized information hub for students. The tool provides a comprehensive list of everything that happens in the life cycle of a law student, from admissions to graduation, and helps answer common questions. By simplifying and stream-lining information, the J.D. Experience enhances the value of a Fordham Law education, one of the six main principles of the institution’s strategic plan, Fordham Law Forward.

“This is a major element of improving the life of students, making it easier for them to take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities we offer them,” said Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Linda Sugin.

The new program, which is housed within the School’s intranet (LawNet), was initially conceived during conversations Sugin had with her inaugural student advisory board during the fall 2017 semester. Students had expressed frustration with deciphering the various requirements, deadlines, and resources of the Law School. To make their lives easier, Sugin worked closely with administrators from the School’s student-facing departments to better consolidate and share information. This partnership, bolstered by the efforts of Executive Director and CTO of Information Technology Bernard Matthews, Web Manager Marianna Balquiedra, and Database Administrator Abdoul Kane, created a new digital solution for students. The project also included participation from the Registrar’s Office, the Office of Student Affairs, Admissions, the Maloney Library, Career Planning, Information Technology, and the Law School’s clinics.

Information within the J.D. Experience is organized under three tabs: First-Year, Upper Level, and Graduating. Information within these tabs is flagged as critical, useful, and important to signal its significance. Upcoming events and deadlines are arranged by month, with an easily navigable drop-down menu. For convenience, links are included to provide students more details as well as the contact information for various departments. Notably, the J.D. Experience coordinates information from across every department and standardizes the manner in which it is received so that students will not have to worry about missing any vital details amid a deluge of emails from different senders.

“What’s different about this from the master calendar and what’s helpful for students is that it is personalized and interactive,” Sugin notes. “The timeline alerts students to what they have to do every month. It’s hard for students to keep track of when they’re supposed to do what.”

Jared Arcari, 3L, a member of Sugin’s inaugural student advisory board, credits Sugin and other administrators for not only listening to student concerns but also acting quickly to produce the J.D. Experience. According to Arcari, the current product is intuitive and well formatted and offers great potential for future add-ons such as a column for due dates or deadlines.

“We’re already stressed out by class, internships, and externships,” Arcari said. “The J.D. Experience takes off the added stress of collecting all the information we need by presenting it all in one place, which is critically important and very helpful.”


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