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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Advice for 2-L students

Jim Lindgren and David Bernstein have posted, over at the Volokh Conspiracy, some advice for second-year law students.  I would add to their suggestions at least one of my own:  If your school has (as mine does) upper-level required courses (e.g., Tax, Business Associations, etc.), try to resist the pull of the common view that students should "get the requirements out of the way" as soon as possible.  The first year of law school is often a long line of big lecture classes, topped off with standard-issue three-hour exam / disgorgements.  It seems to me that second-year students should try to diversify their law-class experience, strike out in some new and even strange directions (go ahead -- take "Law and the Catholic Social Tradition"!), and so on.  Besides, you never know if that interesting biodiversity or election-law class -- the one you figure you'll take during your third year, after all the requirements are done -- will be offered or available.

Posted by Rick Garnett on August 24, 2006 at 01:54 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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i share the view that students should "take professors not classes" -- and invariably make that point when I am advising students re course selection -- but a few additional thoughts: (1) i urge students to get as much good information as they can about individual professors (e.g., by sitting in on classes, by reading student evaluations if available, by asking professors they like for a list of "don't miss 'em" colleagues); (2) i urge students to "diversify their portfolio" & take professors "against type" (those asking me for advice tend to be liberal arts rather than business types, so i encourage them to take at least some professors who are working from a different mold); and (3) i spend a lot of time trying to convince them not to let "the bar" drive their decisionmaking, since they should be devoting their efforts to preparing for a lifetime of law rather than a two-day test and since (as the many studies of the topic done during my years at miami revealed) there is precious little correlation between individual courses taken during law school and performance on the exam.

Posted by: Michael Fischl | Aug 25, 2006 12:54:51 PM

One of the best bits of advice I ever got in law school was "take professors not classes." If a great professor is teaching 18th century Icelandic property theory, take that class. The specifics of discrete areas of law can be learned as needed.

Posted by: Jared Wessel | Aug 24, 2006 2:42:37 PM

The only counter I would make is that many of those interesting upper level courses have prerequisites. You may need to plan ahead in that regard, if you have a certain cluster of courses you would like to take.

Posted by: Matt Bodie | Aug 24, 2006 1:58:13 PM

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