Selecting Law School Courses

If you’re one the (un?)lucky law students who gets free selection of courses after your first year, you might find the choices intimidating. Here are some factors to consider in selecting classes.

  1. Who are you?
    • Are you a morning person? If not, 8:00am classes are probably not a good plan.
    • Do you have a liberal arts background? An accounting or economics background? Trust your academic strengths and use them to your advantage. A few theory-heavy classes backed up by a liberal arts degree can do a lot to sweeten your GPA. On the other hand, an art history background and debt transactions might not mix.
    • How good are you at managing your time? If this is a weakness, be ware of crafting a schedule with chunks of time that will tempt you away from your studies.
  2. Who do you want to be?
    Imagine your ideal boss, and your ideal clients, and focus on courses to serve those niches.

    • Legal aid hero? Family law, basic tax, employment law, criminal procedure are probably good bets.
    • Corporate in-house? Take corps (a.k.a. ‘business associations’), negotiations and/or arbitration, and anything in your area of interest.
    • Jack-of-all-trades inyour hometown? Trusts and estates, family law, basic tax, employment law, anything and everything clinical. You get the idea.
  3. Who’s going to care?
    • Judges and the clerks who help with hiring? Don’t miss out on advanced civil procedure, conflicts, and anything that will showcase your research, writing, and attention to detail.
    • Mid-sized firm where your aunt used to work? Show leadership and community skills by serving on your journal board for credit, boning up on pro bono projects, and leaving plenty of room for general practice basics.
    • Someone in the Federal government? Federal procedure or appellate procedure and admin law are key. Other than that, keep your nose clean and your grades up. International law might be a bonus in some governmental sectors.
  4. When are finals?
    No, really. If you can get your hands on the schedule of end-of-term exams, look at it carefully. Setting yourself up for three or four finals in as many days is unlikely to bear good results. Give yourself time to recoup and re-study between exams if at all possible.

How did you decide what to take? Are there mistakes you learned from that other readers can, too? Do tell!


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