March 17, 2017

Choosing Law School Classes Wisely

What to Think About Before Signing Up for Law School Classes |

Hi guys! Long time, no talk! After I came back to blogging about this time last year, I've made it a goal to be pretty regular for you guys but then life happened these past few weeks. First I had a pretty tough midterm, then I've been interviewing for a possible externship (more on that later), then it was spring break, and oh yeah my sister is moving to my city (YAY) so I've been house hunting with her. But now my life has slowed down a bit so more posts are coming your way :) 

The time after spring break is when things really get moving and part of that whoosh that you're about to feel is registering for classes. You may recall that I kinda already did a post like this, See Registering for 2L Classes (haha a little Bluebook humor). But now I'm older and wiser so I have more to say about registering for classes. By the way, the post is more about planning classes, but if you want to know what classes to take, go check out that post!

Think ahead

Without trying to stress you out too much, the best way to go about thinking what classes you should take next semester is to go ahead and plan out all of your classes until you graduate. I know this is hard to do if your future is uncertain like mine was last year because I was planning on transferring and wasn't sure what kind of law I wanted to practice, but it really would've helped me if I came in knowing what all classes I aimed to take before I graduated.

Going off that, think about what you want to do your 2L and 3L years. If you are interested in taking a clinic at your school, try to take classes that are relevant to that clinic. If you're looking into getting an internship or an externship, same thing. Things like these are very competitive so it will help your application stand out if you can show that you're highly interested in this position and that you're prepared for it. 

Related: How to get in to a law school clinic and How to get accepted to an externship

Stock up on required classes

The last thing you want is to be denied from a program or have your graduation delayed because you forgot to take your required classes. Check with your school and see what classes they require you to have for graduation, and also if they have any time requirements (ex. must take so many per semester/year). Also, ask around to any upper-level students you know and see what classes fill up the fastest. This will help keep your whole planned schedule from getting thrown off if you go to register for classes and half of them are full.

Related: Classes to take in law school 

Take PR early on

Also, as a personal opinion, I would say try to take your Professional Responsibility class sooner rather than later. It's an ethics class that the ABA requires all law students to take and *surprise!* you have to take and pass the MPRE in addition to passing the Bar to get a law license. The good news is that you can take this whenever so if you get this class out of the way early, you can take this test as a 2L whenever it's convenient for you and have that out of the way.

Related: Everything you need to know about the MPRE

Besides all this, any job or program you get in to really likes it if you've already had this class. Sure they'll have you sign non-disclosure forms, but it also gives them a little peace of mind to know that you know what would cause them to be sued for malpractice and will avoid doing that. I'm sure you already know about lawyer-client confidentiality (which is different than lawyer-client privilege, bet you didn't know that), but there are a lot of other ethical duties that lawyers have that are super important to know. Oh and wondering why the ABA requires everyone to take the same class and has its own test for it? You can thank all of the lawyers who did some not-so-ethical things during the little scandal referred to as Watergate. 

Don't be afraid of summer classes

Let's have some fun (jk) and break down the math. You'll need 90 credits within 3 years to graduate. That's 30 credits a year. That's 15 hours a semester. This might sound do-able because you got about 30 hours done your 1L year, but how did you feel about it? Did you feel swamped with reading and as if you were always in class? Now think about how bad that will be trying to take 15 hours a semester in upper-level classes, where professors expect even more reading to be accomplished in a night and the material is even more complex. Sounds like a recipe for disaster doesn't it?

This is why I recommend you consider summer classes. Not only will it help alleviate your schedule for future semesters, it also can open up more possibilities for you later down the road if you don't have a cramped schedule. For example, I'm planning on doing a program in the spring of my 3L year that's 12 hours and doesn't allow you to take any other classes. If I didn't take a summer class, I would be stuck trying to take 18 hours the other semester to stay caught up. It also might give you a more flexible daily schedule so that you can work a few hours a day instead of going to a class. Or you never know, you might just get burnt out your 3L year and want to take only the minimum hours ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

A few answers to questions that I had about summer classes at first:

If I can barely keep up with the reading for a class that spans a full semester, how will I survive when that schedule is condensed? Am I going to be reading 200 pages a night to compensate? No, professors aren't that mean and so they don't just take a semester-long syllabus and cram it into a few weeks. Instead they modify it to be reasonable. Although, you probably will be in classes for a lot longer at once so don't think just because it's summer classes it'll be super easy. Maybe just a little easier.

What about a summer job? How would I have time for both?? Most employers are very understandable about you having a job, so it shouldn't hurt your job prospects. You can work during Summer I and take classes during Summer II (or vice versa). You could also agree with your employer that you take a Tuesday/Thursday class(es) and work Monday Wednesday Friday. Another option is to take all morning classes and then go to work afterwards. Just let them know upfront when you're interviewing and then be prepared to be flexible with your hours.

Related: How to balance clerking and summer classes

What about paying for all of this? I only got a loan to cover spring semester? There are loans for summer school, too. Don't stress too much about having to take out yet another loan because generally summer classes are a little cheaper.

What if I'm planning on going back home for a few weeks during the summer? Your school probably offers some classes online so that won't be a problem.

Related: Tips for surviving an online law school class

Final Thoughts

This is just another post of me overthinking things, but once again I'd rather y'all be over prepared rather than have a mental breakdown because you didn't plan out. Also, remember these are all just my little musings so in no way think that you're doing your scheduling wrong or are behind if you don't do it exactly how I do it. Hope y'all get in to all of the classes you want for next semester 😊 

PS - I also think this is a great post about Choosing Law Classes. I really agree with them and honestly in hindsight I think I would've been fine not taking Family Law and instead just learning what I need to know in a Bar course. Then I could've taken a class that is more relevant to what I want to do or at least one that I think would be a harder subject on the bar for me.


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