Choosing Law School Classes

One of the best parts of finishing your 1L year of law school is that you now get to choose your own classes. The most important thing you can do before starting your 2L law school year is to develop a tentative strategy for the rest of your law school career. Consider concentrating on a particular area or two. Developing a “specialty” or two will make you more marketable after graduation. Having a plan for your 2L and 3L law school years can make your life easier and your grades higher. It also makes choosing law school classes easier because you have direction instead of submitting to the whims that strike the average student during registration.

General Recommendations for Law School Classes

We at Law School Coach recommend a varying your strategy for choosing law school classes by class rank. In addition, we offer the following general advice:
  1. Take extra hours during your 2L law school year to free up time for your 3L law school year.
  2. Load up on Evidence and any other required law school courses during your 2L law school year. Many law school clinics, and prospective employers, require that you have completed Evidence; so, the sooner the better.
  3. Fulfill your writing requirement during your 2L law school year.
  4. If you see a law school class that you are very interested in, do not assume that it will be available after this semester.
  5. Take a summer class so that you can lighten your load later in law school. A great choice is Professional Responsibility. This allows you to sit for the MPRE in August while the material is fresh.
  6. Consider the exam schedule when you sign up for law school classes, but remember that most law schools will move an exam if you have two exams scheduled on the same day or a night exam followed by a morning exam.

Bottom 50% of Class after 1L Law School Year

You may be a bit offended by the fact that we recommend different class choices to those in the top half versus the bottom half of their law school class. We have a reason for doing so. But first, let us remind you that there are a lot of real lawyer skills that are not measured by grades. Those who are fantastic writers, crack researchers, great counselors, or have superb interpersonal skills (all hallmarks of great lawyers) may not be as good at quickly reading, analyzing, and writing an exam answer. But, unfortunately, bar exams test the latter skills.

We suggest taking mostly bar classes for the remainder of law school. The added familiarity and mastery you get from these law school classes will make a huge difference when you take the bar exam, and could be the difference between passing and failing. You should also, though, take 1 non-bar course per semester. For the non bar law school classes, consider concentrating on a specialty.

There will be no shortage of people that disagree with this advice. Our experience has been that students who take fewer bar classes have a much tougher time on the bar exam. Most professors will tell you that it doesn’t matter, but they were at the top of their law school classes. If you doubt our advice, we recommend talking to law students that have failed the bar exam. Ask them if they wish they had taken more bar classes.

If you attend a T14 law school, you should ignore the above and follow the recommendations for the top 50% below.

Top 50% of Class after 1L Law School Year

If you find yourself in this group, we recommend that you find two different areas of concentration for the remainder of law school. Do your best to take four to eight (one or two per semester) courses within each area of specialty, and satisfy your law school writing requirement in one of them. You should also take at least one bar course per semester. Review the choices of bar courses at your law school and gravitate to the courses that seem the most challenging to you. Subjects like Commercial Paper and Secured Transactions are tougher to learn in bar prep than subjects like Family Law or Wills and Trusts. While you will enjoy more freedom in your class selection, expect to have a tougher time studying for the bar than those who have loaded up on bar courses.

If you are in the top 15% of the class, you might consider taking a slightly lighter load during the first semester of your 2L law school year. The added time spent on journal and OCI is a lot to handle. Lightening up the first semester might help, but it only postpones the stress. You will also be very busy towards the end of your 3L law school year. If you are confident that you can handle a full load during your 2L law school year, we recommend that you do it. You should, however, decide what is best for you. Consider talking to some 3L law students to get their experience.