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Sunday, March 20, 2005
The new class schedules for summer and fall are published along with a probable Spring 2006 schedule. While this advice will mostly apply to the 1Ls, some upperclassman might find it useful. I’m always asked by numerous people what classes they should take for next year. Please keep in mind this is just my personal advice and others may disagree with me.
1. What classes should I take?
Okay, that is a very broad question. Here are my general rules of thumb to selecting possible classes.
First Rule: If you find a boutique class that is not offered very often and you would feel really bad if you never took it, then take that class.
Specialized classes like Toxic Torts, Food and Drug Law, National Security and Foreign Relations, and Admiralty Law don’t get offered every semester. If you really want it, take it! It always helps to take classes you are interested in and look forward to as you will take plenty of classes that you do not like as much.
Second Rule: take required to graduate classes.
Luckily for you Professional Responsibility, Constitutional Law, and LARC III are offered every semester. Take at least one of those required classes in the fall. PR is required for many internships and clinics so it is important. Con Law is a requirement for a fair number of other advanced level classes.
Third Rule: take classes that are bar exam subjects.
Business Associations, Criminal Procedure, Trusts and Estates, Income Tax, etc. It is good to have some exposure to those subjects before taking review classes and the Bar Exam itself.
Fourth Rule: any class that fits in your schedule and still maintains an average of 15 credits per semester.
If you do not take any summer classes a full-time day student needs to average 15 credits per semester to graduate in 3 years. If the above rules do not fill up your schedule, then find a class that fits in your schedule. That is a last ditch effort and you should not have to fall back on this rule. If you are a night student please adjust those numbers accordingly to your requirements.
2. Should I take two 4 credit classes in the same semester?
I’ll give you the classic lawyer answer: it depends! Here are the pros and cons of taking two 4 credit classes at the same time.
Pros: You’ll have a heavily focused class schedule on two days, usually Tuesday and Thursday. Depending on the timing of other classes you will have much open time to do other things such as a job, a class intern/externship, or a clinic.
Cons: It can be a bear to study for two 4 credit classes at the same time. You’ll need to manage your time wisely. Two 4 credit final exams will be quite a weight on your GPA, especially if the grades are not as high as you wanted. Also by spreading out your 4 credit classes throughout your academic career you will avoid taking 6 classes in one semester and having 6 final exams! One 4 credit class fills up a lot of good space on a schedule and will prevent that problem.
3. Should I take any summer classes?
If you are in town, then sure why not? Get two classes out of the way and it will free up your schedule down the road. If you take 4 credits in the summer session, then you could take one less class in both the upcoming Fall and Spring semesters and still be on track to graduate on time, and be able to relax a little bit during the year.
I personally recommend Professional Responsibility just so you get that little nagging required class out of the way. PR is also required before you take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). You can take the MPRE up to two years before taking the bar. In theory you could take PR this summer, take the August MPRE and be done with that requirement before Fall classes begin. PR is popular so if you can’t get into that class at least take something.
4. Should I take both Law Review and LARC III/Moot Court at the same time?
First please realize that on the day your register you will not be able to schedule Law Review for yourself, unless you are already on one. If you write onto a Law Review you will be able to register for it around the time classes start up in the fall. You will want to schedule a 2 credit class that you are willing to drop if you participate on a Law Review.
That being said, you will be doing a lot of research and writing for LARC III, writing your Moot Court brief, editing Law Review Notes and Articles, and performing research and some writing of your own Note for Law Review in the same semester. It will be a ton of work. It is workable, but I very much recommend taking some summer classes this summer or next summer so that you take only 12 or 13 credits in the Fall Semester if you take both LARC III/Moot Court and Law Review. I really wish I took my own advice.
If you’re a 3L getting onto Law Review you’ll already have LARC III out of the way. If you’re going to be a 2L next fall, then you won’t have a choice really. You’ll do both because you have no choice, whether or not you do LARC III in the fall or the spring.
5. Speaking of Law Review, if I can not register for it, then how do I get on one?
There will be several informational sessions coming over the next few weeks, but the nutshell is that you will write onto one. I would not count on being in the top 10 percent of your class to get an automatic invite (I believe all three reviews do that now) because if you end up being wrong when the grades come out in June it will be too late to do anything about it. Do not be cocky as I have seen several people suddenly on the wrong side of the bell curve.
As you are leaving your last final exam several people will be handing out packets by the door. That packet contains a problem, several cases and statutes that you will need to write your memo on. You DO NOT perform any outside research as it is a self-contained problem. You will have about 3 weeks or so to write it. Go ahead and take the week off after finals to let your brain decompress. I spent about 4 hard days writing my memo. You can spread out that effort over the two weeks before the deadline and be in excellent shape while not really doing that much effort per day. The memo will have a 6 or 7 page limit on it so it will not be that big.
P.S. read it out loud before you mail it in. You will be amazed at the mistakes you catch when you read it out loud.
6. What about internships or clinics to take?
This school is fantastic in that it offers many chances for you to get some real world experience for class credit. My internships in the Program on Law & State Government and the Court Internships provided some of the best experience I’ve had in school. Others rave about their participation in the various clinic programs. While many deadlines have already passed for participating in these programs this fall, do keep them in mind for later in your academic career. I strongly believe that if you graduate from this school without taking a clinic or internship, then you’ve lost a valuable opportunity.
All clinics have certain prereqs. If you want to be in a certain clinic before you graduate, make sure you take the prerequisite classes before hand. You could take the prereqs this summer and fall in order to be ready for the clinic by next spring. When planning for classes to take you're not only planning for the next semester, but for the following semesters! That is why you should look at the proposed spring schedule as well.
7. I know what classes I want, but is there an order to how to schedule them?
If you know that you are wanting a popular class, register for that one first. If that class is full, then put it on the waitlist! You might still get in. Then continue down your list. Here is the best tip to give you: HAVE BACKUP CLASSES! For every class you want have a backup class ready so that if one is full, you can automatically put the one you want on waitlist, then select a predetermined backup class and then go on your merry way. The backup class can be the same date/time or something different as long as the classes you want or have on backup will not overlap time-wise. Time conflicts are not good. You absolutely do not want to randomly select classes just to have something scheduled.
Put your class selections on a piece of paper in the order you want to select them. Be sure to have course numbers written out and a few backup classes preselected. 10 minutes scratching out diagrams and numbers on a piece of paper will save you much time on the computer when it is time to register online.
8. Be sure to check the final exam schedules to the classes you want!
I think the reasoning behind this is pretty obvious. You can not be in two places at the same time, or you do not really want to take two final exams on the same day unless you just can not help it. Good luck and I hope these tips from your Uncle Brian help you out.