Asked and Answered: What Were Your Most Useful Law School Classes?
Earlier this summer, a young man reached out to me via email asking whether I would recommend attending law school in 2018. I responded and offered my opinion, but then wondered what my colleagues thought, so I crowdsourced it. Then I wrote about the results of my unofficial poll over at Above the Law in a 3-part blog post series.
I received so much interesting and useful feedback that I thought I’d follow up with another blog post series, this time focused on advice regarding law school classes. I’ll be posting the first blog post of this series here on the MyCase blog and then will post Part 2 over at the Above the Law blog.
For this first post, I asked my colleagues on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter the following question:
Which law school classes did you find to be the most useful in terms of preparing you for the practice of law?
I received nearly 60 responses, and a number of themes quickly emerged as the responses rolled in. One interesting concept that cropped up a number of times was that the professors mattered more than the coursework. In other words, some of my colleagues were of the opinion that what really made a class useful was how engaging the professor was. Ian Holloway, Dean at the University of Calgary summed up this perspective on Twitter quite nicely:
Substantively? None of the classes, really. But in human, “this is what’s coming down the pike” terms, it was Marine Insurance Law and Media Law – I kid you not! Because of the professors.
Others who replied stressed the importance of taking clinical courses and obtaining legal experience while in law school. Oftentimes these recommendations came from individuals who ended up practicing in litigation in one respect or another.
For example, one of my law school classmates, Cat Adlerman, an Administrative Law Judge for the New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, explained how trial advocacy and clinical classes helped prepare her for real life practice:
Trial advocacy because it prepped me for litigation through actual mock scenarios. And my clemency seminar which was real world with actual client interviews, research, and prepping a clemency petition. I hated the book only classes as they felt abstract. I was so much more confident after doing actual work which was immediately transferable to outside employment.
Similarly, on LinkedIn, Shane Edwards, a Canadian Litigation and Resolution Case Manager, shared how more practical, hands on programs taken while in law school set the stage for his future practice:
While my law school experience was quite good and it did help me learn how to “think like a lawyer” I don’t think any particular course prepared me for the practice of law. However at the time there was a period of articles (about 10 months) and a bar admission program (about 6 months) that was extremely useful in preparing for the practice of law.
Other attorneys emphasized the value of substantive coursework for law students focused on a specific practice area. For example, on LinkedIn a corporate and securities attorney shared that law school classes in securities and corporate finance were particularly useful for his career path, and he also recommended that law students who aspired to become corporate attorneys should consider taking business school classes, if available.
Similarly, on Facebook, Kevin Grierson, an IP attorney, described how certain law school classes that he took laid the foundation for a successful legal career:
For the work I’m doing now, probably contracts and legal writing. For my former career as a litigator, evidence and trial advocacy (where we did mock trials).
What law school classes did you find to be the most useful? Let us know in the comments and make sure to head over to the Above the Law blog next week to read Part 2 of this series, where I’ll ask my colleagues what law school classes they regretted not taking or wished had been available to help prepare them for the practice of law.