Thus far, in my non-seminar courses, I have always given in-class, three hour essay exams, and I've gotten handwritten answers in law school provided Bluebooks. I should point out quickly that when I was a law student, I handwrote all of my in-class final exams, and I have pretty bad handwriting, so in a way, I am getting just desserts.
My exams are open-book with regard to class notes, the casebook, and outlines. It wouldn't be too much of a step for me to give a take-home exam, in which case I would get back nicely laser-printed answers. I've resisted so far for the following reasons:
1) Some mild concern that not everyone has access to a computer, though I suppose that person could always handwrite an answer. Plus, my sense is that there are very few, if any, students who wouldn't be able to access a computer in some way (whether through the law library, or a friend).
2) Greater concern about disadvantaging students with family responsibilities. I suppose that a time period of 24 hours would address this from a practical perspective, since I think any time spent beyond the first four or five hours is probably of minimal value; but I suspect that students would always feel that someone who could devote 18-20 hours would have an advantage.
3) Some compassion for students who would otherwise feel compelled to spend all their free time on the take home exam. At least with a three hour in-class exam, students know that when the 180 minutes are up, they're done.
I'm curious whether readers have any thoughts on the merits of in-class vs. take-home. Are my concerns valid? Are they of lesser importance than the advantages of typing at home? (Yes, I realize that allowing the use of computers via test-taking software is a possible solution, but there are issues involved there as well.)