So after the misery of first year is over, the question for law students becomes which elective courses to take. I have a couple of thoughts on this, although I must admit that I may be misguided. So if anyone has a better answer, then by all means please share it and/or tear my opinions to shreds.
I started thinking about this question because I just read a great post from Professor Orin Kerr over at the Volokh Conspiracy. His school (George Washington) conducted an email survey of alumni asking what elective courses were the most beneficial and what elective courses the alumni wish they had taken. The response was rather surprising to blog commentors.
One of the most helpful courses was Evidence. That surprised commentors because in many schools Evidence was a mandatory class.
Some of the classes that GW alumni wish they had taken included Complex Litigation, Trial Advocacy, Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Administrative Law.
Strange, no one selected Legal History, Theory or Philosophy. What does that tell you? It tells me that lawyers wish they had taken more classes with practical applications. More classes that actually prepare you to become a lawyer.
Now don’t get me wrong. If your goal is to become a law professor or something else that places a premium on theory than those classes are something you will need. But if the goal is to become a practicing lawyer, then you should take as many classes as possible that hone your skills to do the work of a lawyer.
I think classes like Evidence, Legal Writing and Complex Litigation are no-brainers. Also, courses like Negotiations, Interviewing, Advanced Legal Research, would be beneficial to those interested in litigation. In addition, I plan to take classes in areas that I’m not as familar, such as Intellectual Property and Immigration Law. The goal is to mix various legal subjects with practical knowledge.
Or maybe not. Maybe I should be thinking of taking a different route. Any suggestions?