Mercer Law School strongly recommends that each JD student own a new or recent laptop or notebook computer running Windows or Mac OS.
We recommend purchasing new computers through the Mercer Informational Technology Department website at special student pricing. Their student packages usually offer 3 or 4 years of warranty and accidental-damage coverage. If you need to purchase a new laptop to meet the required specifications, please see the financial aid office. You may be able to include the cost (up to $1500) of the laptop in your student budget.
Specifications for New Computers
Computers purchased now should meet the specifications in the table found at the bottom of this document. See also the "frequently asked questions" immediately below.
Required Specifications for Laptop Computers
• Processor Intel i5 core Processor or equivalent.
• Memory (RAM) 8 GB
• Hard Drive 250 GB
• Wireless capabilities
• Operating System Windows 7, 8, 10 Pro or higher versions. (No home versions see below), or Mac OS X 10.11
What version of Windows do I need?
Do not use a "home" or standard version of Windows. The home or standard versions of Windows 7 (even home premium) and Windows 10, as well as the plain version of Windows 8.1, are not fully compatible with an enterprise network, and may lack important encryption software. We recommend that students get Windows 10 Pro. All software that we distribute is compatible with the 64-bit version of Windows, so both 32-bit or 64-bit versions are fine; power users may find a 64-bit operating system a better fit. It is possible, for a fee, to get Windows from Mercer’s Information Technology department website. However, we do not recommend buying a computer with a home version with the expectation of upgrading when you arrive here. Upgrades are certainly possible but they require more patience and time than you will have at the start of the school year. Do not come to the law school with a computer with Windows XP! That operating system is no longer supported at all by Microsoft and is a security risk.
Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro computers running Mountain Lion (10.8), or newer are fine for use in the law school. However, we strongly recommend upgrading to El Capitan before you arrive. Relying on an older computer with an older operating system can lead to problems and we do not recommend it. Because Apple is not issuing security updates for older versions, we do not support any OS version older than 10.7.
The Electronic Bluebook (EBB) software used in many courses for final exams is available for both Windows and Macintosh. It does not support Linux (even if you run Windows in a virtual machine).
Minimum Recommended Specifications Comments
Processor Intel i5 core Processor or equivalent.
We recommend i5 or i7 processor. Intel's new M processors use less power and are also generally acceptable.
Memory (RAM) 8 GB 16 GB is generally not needed.
Video RAM -- Most video graphics solutions available today suffice for general computing and viewing media.
Hard Drive 250 GB.
We recommend getting a Solid State Drive (SSD), which is much faster than a traditional hard drive. 512GB drives are becoming affordable and if you store a lot of or large media may be desirable. Hybrid drives have some of the speed benefit of an SSD and the size of traditional hard drives, and may be a reasonable compromise if you need a lot of storage.
We recommend a display of 1080p (high definition).
Screen size is a personal choice. Display size is a matter of personal preference. Some will want a smaller and lighter laptop, while others will want a bigger screen with a higher native resolution. We advise looking at a number of laptops and screen resolutions before making up your mind. Since even small laptops are powerful, you may want to consider a smaller laptop and then an external monitor and/or keyboard for use at home. Some displays, such as Apple's Retina Display, have an extremely high resolution and pixel density, and you may find that combination advantageous, even for reading text.
WiFi 802.1x and Wired Ethernet 100 BaseT Wireless networking is available throughout the law school and across the Mercer Law campus. Your laptop support at least 802.11n. Many classrooms and other locations also have wired ethernet ports that can provide a more consistent network experience, such as when you are streaming video or web conferencing.
Optical Drive DVD+/-RW drive
In these days of broadband, flash drives and cloud storage, we recommend a DVD+/-RW drive for writing to DVD discs as well, but a DVD / CD+/-RW drive (for writing to CD discs) would suffice.
Warranty 3-year warranty.
We recomend at least 3-year warranty. A 3-year warranty will provide coverage throughout your law school career. Computers available from the Mercer website can be purchased with at least a 3-year warranty and may include accidental damage. We recommend coverage for accidental damage, but you may also wish to check the terms of your insurance coverage.
Insurance Check the provisions of your homeowner's or renter's policy your laptop could be covered in that policy.
Back-up for your Data You should back up your user data at least weekly Hardware malfunctions and some viruses can cause a loss of data and in some cases corrupt your entire disk drive. Cloud storage solutions through Microsoft's OneDrive is avaible for students. You may also want to consider an external hard drive with back-up software (or use the built-in backup software of your operating system) to minimize your problems, should your computer fail, but don't rely solely on a back-up system that can be damaged or stolen along with your computer. Online backup services such as Mozy are another possibility, though typically unnecessary. Flash drives can be used to keep instant back-ups of crucial data. But remember: Never have irreplaceable content in just one location!
Anti-virus and Microsoft Office you can download for free anti-virus software and Microsoft Office software for either Mac or Windows, once you have a Mercer Law email address. Mercers Information Technology offers other site-licensed and educationally priced software as well.
What services does Mercer Law IT provide to a student’s computer that meets the specifications?
Mercer Law IT staff provides the following services for computers meeting the specifications:
• Assist in establishing a connection to Mercer’s wired and wireless network(s).
• Evaluation of problems with student systems. Once the system has been evaluated, Mercer Law IT department will make a recommendation to the student on what needs to be done to resolve the problem.
• Provide tools so students can remove viruses, malware, and spyware from their computer systems. We regret that we are unable to perform virus, malware, or spyware scans on student computers.
• Assistance with Microsoft office, printing to the law school printers, and the exam software.
While we do not perform hardware repair or replacement, we can assist with many other problems, including removing viruses and spyware, providing assistance with and recommendations for backing up your data before you send a defective hard drive for replacement, Assist in establishing a connection to Mercer’s wired and wireless network(s) . Because computers not meeting the specifications often have out-of-date, non-standard or inferior parts, and because out-of-date operating systems often do not have features needed to function in our environment, we are unable to provide comprehensive support for computers not meeting our specifications. Please consider that a computer not meeting minimum specifications may have a negative impact on your education, to a degree that is disproportionate to the cost of a new computer.
Currently there are 3 desktop computers are available for law students in law library carrels, and other computers are available for short-term use in other locations in the library and around the building. We have a small pool of laptops for loaning, but our loaners are not intended to cover long-term needs for any one individual.
Can I get financial assistance?
If you need to purchase a new laptop to meet the required specifications, please see the financial aid office. You may be able to include the cost (up to $1500) of the laptop in your student budget.
Where Should I Buy? What Brand Should I Buy?
Students purchasing new computers are eligible for special deals through the Mercer Information Technology website. Computers available under this program may include extended warranties that cover screen replacement and damage to plastic parts, and may include a loaner computer while yours is being repaired. For the most part, Dell, Lenovo or MacBook notebook computers made available in student packages meet our specifications. (If the Windows version is a "non-pro" version, then you should allow time to update the operating system before the semester begins.) We recommend Dell laptops for Windows users.
We strongly recommend that you do not buy a Windows computer from a big-box store such as Best Buy. The models carried in these showrooms are not optimized for use in an enterprise environment such as ours. The Dell computers available from the Mercer Information Technology website, especially the Latitude line, are enterprise models and are more easily configured for and used in enterprise-computing environments. Warranties through consumer stores and websites may not cover your laptop throughout your career here, and in some cases getting repairs done can be time-consuming. You may also wish to review the annual reliability surveys of consumers published by PC Magazine.
What about Insurance?
Even if you use your security cable religiously and never leave your computer unattended, you should carry financial protection in the event of loss. The law school, like other public facilities, does experience theft. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies cover computers as insured contents, subject to the policy deductible. Review your policy and if you believe your coverage is insufficient, you may wish to purchase a computer insurance policy from other vendors.