April 13, 2005
Yet Another Plea to the Blawgsphere
April 13, 2005 11:20 PM
While the call for law review posts for the upcoming symposium is important, I can't help but feel that the selection of courses for the fall semester of my 2L year is a bit like planning out the rest of my life. Is it just me or does everything ride on this? It's almost like not getting in the right courses will end my life as I know it. Worse yet, I won't get to do all those wonderful EC activities that 2Ls do if I don't have the perfect schedule with the right clinic and the left advocacy course.
So I'm sending out this general plea to upperclass law students and practicioners...what courses (or types of courses) have you found helpful in practice? I'm not asking, "What looks good on my transcript?" Rather this is more substantive. For anyone also having this dilemma or anyone with words of wisdom, this was a reply that I got:
"Legal accounting will be the single most practical course you take in law school if you do *any* kind of private sector work -- litigation, transactional, counseling, in-house, etc...."
What about that Spanish for lawyers? What about that business class? The film and law class? All comments like the one above, which then details how accounting comes into the profession, would be greatly appreciated by every 1L (imho). [Ed. Note: I hope ambimb picks this up at blawg wisdom or otherwise]
A thought that has recently congealed for me in recent weeks is that if you are at all interested in litigating, take Evidence as soon as you can. It tends to be a prerequisite for other things, like trial advocacy courses and some clinics, and in some states you can become a certified student and represent people in court.
In other words, if you think you'll want to try out litigating skills while still in law school, it's a good idea to get it out of the way.
If you do any kind of business work, take some kind of intellectual property class. I cannot tell you how often trade secret issues come up in a commercial or business practice, both transactional or litigation, and one was luck when I was in school (~20 year now) to spend a week on it.
If you want to litigate, take a class on the specific Civil Procedure for your state. It will undoubtedly differ from your required 1L Civil Procedure class. And, I'd recommend taking it as a 3L, when you get the law well enough for the procedural details to make some sense to you. It's one of the few classes that comes up in my day to day practice of the law.
Also, do an externship. The clinics were a great way for those not at the top of the class to "clerk" for a judge for a semester, or some states have third-year practice act, where you could try a case before you graduate. Whatever your interests are, externships are a great way to get hands-on experience actually practicing law (which is WAY different than studying law), and to network with people in a given specialty.
There are very few classes after your first year that you absolutely need to take in order to be an effective lawyer (Evidence, Corporations, *Insert State Here* Practice and Procedure). Otherwise, the best thing you can do for your future is to get good grades. TAKE EASY CLASSES. All schools have easy classes and easy profs - take advantage of them. Ninety percent of what you do in your practice you will learn on the job, later on. But, you need to get and retain that job now, and a higher GPA will help you do that.
As far as work goes, classes are useless.
You might want to consider what's on your state's bar exam. This is especially true if your so brave (or foolish) as I am to study on your own for it (as I did). I chose all my classes in law school after my first year based on entertainment value. I wish, however, that I had taken Wills and Corporations -- the profs for those classes at my law school were not at all fun. While I was studying for the barzam, I loathed those two topics the most. I always felt like if I had taken the classes, I would have been less afraid of those topics.