Picking the Right Law School Electives
If you’re a 1L, you don’t have a lot of control over the courses you take during your first year. OK, you don’t have any control. But once that first year is history, you get to make some decisions–you get to pick some electives!
Depending on where you’re at in the career-planning process, this can either be a really, really good thing, or a confusing process that leaves you with more questions than answers.
For those of you who know what you want to do with your careers, the answer is relatively easy: Take courses in the area of law you plan to practice. Interested in family law? Take those classes. Want to be a litigator? Trial Advocacy is the place for you. And so on and so forth … .
But if you haven’t decided what you want to do with your J.D. degree after you’ve earned it–if no area of law has gotten you excited, the answer to the “which electives?” question is a little more difficult to answer.
You can experiment, take a bunch of classes in a bunch of different areas and see if something ignites your interest. It can work, or it can fail miserably and you’ll end up with a lot of knowledge about specific areas of the law in which you’ll likely never work or practice.
So that’s one approach.
Another is to start working on your skills sleeve-rolling, down-and-dirty, practical skills.
Skill-building courses seem to be all the rage at law schools across the country these days. Even Harvard has increased the number of skills-based courses (and skill-building activities offered in other courses) to try to prepare students to hit the ground running once they graduate.
So which classes focus on skills? Here’s a quick list for your consideration:
- Trial Advocacy. You’ll learn a lot about how to prepare for a trial–interviewing, research, addressing a judge and making your case in front of a jury. Even if you don’t intent to litigate, knowing how the process works and having the confidence to build a compelling case will serve you well.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution. Courts across the country are trying to push cases into mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. And knowing how to solve problems without going to trial is a valuable skill in the real world.
- Legal Writing. Writing is the key to all effective communications–especially for lawyers.
This article was written by FindMyLawTutor.com.
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