Once you’ve made it past your first year of law school, you’re afforded the opportunity to pick and choose your own courses. Most law schools offer an extensive variety of classes. This can be both a benefit and a burden to a law student who is trying to create a schedule.
On one hand, the variety of classes allows you to test the waters of diverse areas of the law to see what is the best fit. On the other hand, too many options may make the decision-making process overwhelming.
Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when choosing classes in law school.
Review graduation requirements
While you do have some flexibility in creating a schedule, your school will still require the completion of certain courses to graduate. Find out which classes will be required and when they are typically offered. For example, most law schools require at least one writing-intensive course, so be sure to add an appropriate course to your schedule. You can plan your elective classes around these courses to ensure you satisfy all law school requirements.
Complete prerequisites for coveted externships or clinics
Clinics are a popular way to introduce law students to the practice of law. If you’re interested in getting clinical experience check out the syllabus for prerequisites that will need to be completed prior to enrolling in the clinical experience.
Take classes you’re interested in
Law school is no different from other forms of education – you will thrive when you are learning about topics you are interested in. Do you love animals? Try out an environmental law or animal law course. Does your dream job involve defending the constitutional rights of undocumented workers? Dive into immigration and constitutional law courses. The more passionate you are about an area, the more likely you will be to retain the information and carry it with you outside of the law school walls.
Love your 1L professor? Take more of their courses
Sometimes it’s not so much what courses you take, but rather who you learn it from. Professors have different styles, and students are likely to be drawn to one specific style over another. If you had a professor for Crim Law you absolutely loved, think about taking other courses they teach, even if the subject area isn’t necessarily something you’d ordinarily go out of your way to sign up for. The right teacher can make even the most tedious subjects interesting, and learning from teachers whose style you enjoy may help to unlock new interests and career paths.
Choose your course load wisely
If you know that you’ll be working part-time, involved in Law Review or other extracurricular activities, or have other obligations outside of school be sure to keep this in mind when choosing your semester’s courses. If you overwhelm and overextend yourself you’ll be less likely to enjoy, absorb, and understand the material.
Review past and future semester offerings
Some courses are only offered in the spring semester. Others are offered once every couple of years, depending on the availability of a professor. Looking at past and future schedules can help you find courses of interest you may have otherwise missed and allow you to leave room in future semester schedules. Evidence with your favorite professor is only taught in the spring? Think about taking an elective this fall and pencil in evidence for the spring.
Many factors go into creating a law school schedule. School requirements, prerequisites, professor preference, and personal interests are all things that should be considered when choosing your law school courses. Take the time to carefully research and draft schedules – including those for future semesters – to ensure you get the most out of your law school experience.