Now that I’m officially finished with law school (woo!), I’ve taken some time to reflect on all the classes I’ve taken. Surprisingly, I enjoyed more classes than I anticipated to, even the ones that gave me straight hell. There were law classes I could’ve lived without. Let’s break it down by year.
1L DOCTRINAL Classes
All classes (except research and writing) during 1L year are called doctrinal (or podium) classes. They are the bread and butter of law school and the bar exam. They are: Civil Procedure, Torts, Property, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law/Procedure. The six are typically split by semester, so you would take 3 podium classes in the fall and 3 in the spring, in addition to a year long Legal Research and Writing course. At least that’s how NUSL did it, it varies by school.
Honestly, I liked all my podium classes except for Criminal Law/Procedure. I hated that class so much and the thought of re-learning it for the bar is upsetting. The concepts were difficult to grasp and the Model Penal Code made me want to rip my hair out. That’s really all I’m going to say because it’s triggering LOL. Constitutional Law was my absolute favorite, I loved it so much I became a Teacher’s Assistant my 2L year. The course is tied to U.S. political history, both past and present, so it was interesting seeing how politics inadvertently effects cases that go up to the Supreme Court. I also took the course during Trump’s presidency when our political climate was in disarray, that was interesting to say the least. The classroom discussions were heated and kept me on my toes, however, they were also triggering, especially when the topic of race and women’s rights came up.
I should take this opportunity to say that many classes (Con Law and Criminal Law) during 1L were triggering, especially for Black students. It was also very frustrating when race wasn’t mentioned as an underlying reason for the racist laws created. For example, Property failing to discuss the racism of redlining. Just a word of advice, protect your peace and mental health.
After 1L, I was so brain fried that I made a conscious effort to take as many practical classes as possible and avoid doctrinal courses. My favorites were Negotiation, Legal Interviewing & Counseling, Law Practice Management, and Moot Court (this gave me hell too though, LOL). These classes really taught me the business considerations of running a law firm and client interactions. Moot Court was stressful but I can confidently say it strengthened my writing skills. Negotiations was the class that sparked my interest in Corporate Law and I haven’t turned back since. I also took Evidence and did not enjoy it. It’s a litigation/court rules mess and another class I’ll be dragging my feet while re-learning for the bar. I think this class also scared me away from litigation LOL.
I took the majority of my favorite classes during my 3L year, likely because I had finally decided I wanted to be a Corporate Attorney and actively registered for classes that fit that field. I loved my Federal Basic Income Tax and Transactional Drafting courses. They further solidified my corporate dreams. Also, transactional drafting i.e., drafting contracts, is so much easier than traditional legal writing (e.g., memos, pleadings, briefs, etc.). My tax class also taught me a lot of practical skills for my own personal use, I can actually say I understand everything on my tax form and can have thorough discussions with my CPA.
In true Dánae fashion, I also took classes during 3L that were an absolute pain! Such as Estate Planning, Secured Transactions, and Corporate Finance. The only one that makes sense is Secured Transactions since it’ll be on the bar and maayyybe Estate Planning since it served as an intro to Wills & Trusts, which will also be on the bar. But Corporate Finance!? Whew chileee, I walked straight into hell with that one LOL. As law students, we go to law school to avoid math, and I ran straight into it. I still don’t know what in the world I was thinking. Don’t be me!
LAW SCHOOL REGRETS
Truthfully, my only law school regret, as it relates to courses is not having done a clinic. I based my schedule on only being on campus twice a week so there were many classes I didn’t take simply because it didn’t fit my ideal schedule. It be like that sometimes.
Another thing, please be wise when selecting a law school and definitely pay close attention to their course offerings. I pigeonholed myself by going to NUSL, a school known for public interest. While applying I wholeheartedly believed I wanted to do public interest, so it made sense to attend. However, my career interests changed, so my corporate course selections were very limited. It turned out fine, but when I heard of my friends taking cool classes at their school, I definitely beat myself up about attending NUSL. Choose carefully!