Debbie Ginsberg

  • CALL Position: Bulletin Committee, Member, 2015-2016; Public Relations Committee, Chair, 2015-2016
  • Educational Technology Librarian at Chicago-Kent College of Law


CALL Continuing Education Committee 2020-2021 Annual Report

Todd Hillmer and Debbie Ginsberg, Continuing Education Committee Co-chairs

The Continuing Education Committee had a very successful year.  We sponsored or co-sponsored 5 successful presentations with another tentatively scheduled for the end of this month.  Due to COVID restrictions, all of these were webinars: Continue reading CALL Continuing Education Committee 2020-2021 Annual Report

CALL Continuing Education Committee 2019-2020 Annual Report

The Continuing Education Committee sponsored three successful presentations this year past. They were:

  • Nailing Your AMPC Proposal – Tips from the Trenches (webinar, September 17th, 2019)
  • The Occasional Intellectual Property Law Researcher (webinar, December 5th, 2019)
  • What’s New and Improved in Free and Low-cost Legal Research (May 21st, 2020)

Continue reading CALL Continuing Education Committee 2019-2020 Annual Report

Staying (Digitally) Safe During Covid

I’ve been giving a few talks lately about ransomware and other security threats.  I presented one for PLLIP-SIS which should appear here soon, as well as one for the 2020 AALL Virtual Annual Meeting. 

During COVID, it’s been particularly challenging for us to keep our information and equipment safe while working at home.  Here are some tips to help

What can you do?

Use your tools: passwords, VPN, backups, and antivirus software are all vital tools for protecting your data.  Your skills and relationships are also important – stay vigilant, keep in touch with your IT, and train your staff and others in your organization.

In your toolbox


Do we change them every 6 months?  Make them long and difficult to hack?  There’s a great deal of debate about the best approach, but whatever your path, a password manager can help you stay on top of all of your passwords.  I use LastPass because it works on all of my devices.  When I change my password, LastPass can generate a random password that meets the criteria set by that service’s site (e.g. requires a special character or needs to be 8 characters long).  LastPass will then use that new password on all of my devices, including my iPhone and iPad.  I use 2-factor authentication- it would be difficult to break into my password list.  The other solutions offer similar features – pick the one that best suits your needs.


VPN – Virtual Private Networks

VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, protect you when you access networks and the internet.  It keeps your information away from prying eyes.  During COVID, it also lets us access resources – and even computers- on our work networks.  Our home internet connections are not likely to be as secure as our work connections, so it’s important to use a VPN when you are working with sensitive data.  VPNs can help prevent virus and malware attacks but are not full-proof.  

Your organization likely has its own VPN already (Chicago-Kent uses CISCO).  If they don’t, here are some suggestions – Best VPNs for lawyers:


If you are using your own device for work – phone, tablet, or computer –  you should back it up every once in a while.  You can back up your mobile devices to your computer, but what about the computer itself?  You can buy a 1 TB drive for about $50 and use it for backups.  Do not keep it connected to your computer at all times – just when you back up (this will help avoid infected backups).

If you can, swap out 2 or 3 drives to help keep your data safe from malware (you can’t restore from an infected back up).  To be really safe, keep one back up off-site.  


Antivirus software can’t protect you from all bad actors- they can create new variants of viruses faster than the protection can keep up.  But they are an important shield to keep your equipment and data safe.  Even Macs should be using antivirus software.  

PC Mag picks for best antivirus:

Beyond Tools

While it’s important to use any tools available to you to keep your work safe, the tools alone are not enough. 

Be vigilant!  

One of the most common ways that bad actors infect computers today is through email that looks legitimate but is really a gateway to install bad software.  When using your email, look for clues that something might be off.  For example, I received a copy of the email mentioned in this warning not too long ago:

I thought it might be real at first (at the beginning of COVID, it felt like I was getting emails from everyone).  But there were a few clues that let me know this was spam:

  1.  Kirkpatrick was spelled wrong in the email address.
  2. This sender wouldn’t spell “favor” with a “u.”
  3. The message wasn’t very specific.  What would the Provost want from me?
  4. The Provost wouldn’t contact me without cc’ing my boss.

Our school also now has a tool that marks external email “EXT” so that would have been an additional warning, but it wasn’t in place at that time. I heard that even business are using an email validation tool like the ones from a place like to reach their clients and avoid things like this.

But what really let me know that this email was not legitimate?  I asked IT, who knew this email wasn’t real.  

Talk to IT

Know your IT’s policies, especially those in regards to working from home.  Some of us may have a lot of leeway, while others have to follow strict protocols.  

Educate – yourself and others

If you supervise any direct reports, make sure they know what security measures they are expected to take both in the office and when working from home.  Depending on your organization, you may be providing security training for other staff in your office.  But even if IT provides this training, you can emphasize security issues when hosting your own training.  Talking about Westlaw?  Mention password security.  Demonstrating something on a local network?  Bring up VPNs.  


Librarians also make a great set of second eyes for others we work with.  Encourage people you work with to ask you if they think something doesn’t work right (they can send you a screenshot, for example).  And you, also, can reach out to others if you aren’t sure about something you’re seeing – a strange email, a website that doesn’t quite look right, or something different about your computer.  

COVID has given us enough to worry about without having to deal with an infected computer, too.  Use your security tools and skills to keep you and your organization safe both now and when we return. 

What is Legal Technological Competency?

Several of the sessions I attended at the ABA TechShow worked to define what technological competency is in the legal field (including law schools) or how it’s approached in law firms, including “Tech Competencies: Past, Present & Future”  to “Can Technology Competency Help You Get a Job?

Other sessions in the Academic Track, “Law School Tech Training on a Shoestring” (presented by Joe Mitzenmacher and Debbie Ginsberg) and the “Technology in Law Schools: A Single Course or Curriculum Integration?”  looked at the work librarians are doing to create “legaltech” training programs for law students within the law school curriculum.

Most of all, I was encouraged to see this topic brought enthusiastic speakers and audiences from a range of backgrounds, not just law school librarians but everyone from firm hiring managers to new law students. The presentations were excellent, but so was the ongoing context provided during the Q&A, so I’ve included my live tweets here that to illustrate this broader conversation at the TechShow.

Continue reading What is Legal Technological Competency?

Sixty Tech Tips at MAALL Joint Meeting

Modeled on the 60 tips in 60 minutes presentations we’ve attended at the end of the annual ABA TechShow each year, Debbie Ginsberg and I created a round-up of our favorite websites, tips, apps, browser extensions and more.

We hope you find helpful tips for your work below, whether they match your routine tasks  or an new project in an area that’s new to you–from accessibility to graphic design to Microsoft Office and social media, we covered a wide range of topics.

Want to browse quickly? Here’s the full list of tips, organized by topic with links! Continue reading Sixty Tech Tips at MAALL Joint Meeting

Cool Tools Café at AALL 2016

Cool Tools Café is always one of my favorite events at AALL. I enjoy giving demos as well as learning about new tools. Here, I’ll recap the tools I presented– and Page Vault, web page archiving tools that law schools, firms, and other legal organizations might find useful. I’ll also share a bit about some of the other interesting tools presented. To see handouts from other tools at the cafe, check out the CS-SIS website. Continue reading Cool Tools Café at AALL 2016

Public Relations Committee 2016 Annual Report

The 2015-2016 Public Relations Committee was Deborah Ginsberg, Sean Rebstock, and Beth Schubert (co-chairs), Emily Barney, Britnee Cole, Ella Delaney, Debbie Ginsberg, Carolyn Hersch, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Joanne Kiley, David Pauwels, Scott Vanderlin, and Sharon L. Nelson.

Continue reading Public Relations Committee 2016 Annual Report