Picking your 2L law school classes

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You’re about to move past 1L year and the rigors of mandatory classes. Freedom! Now, it’s time to make your own schedule, but where do you begin? The coming 2L year may feel rather liberating, but it can also be a little overwhelming if you don’t have a plan.

We’ve got a few tips to help you get the most out of your second year in law school. Here’s how to delve into choosing 2L classes for both the fall and spring semesters ahead to really make them count.

Talk to current 2Ls and 3Ls

If you’re unsure which classes you should take, when you should take them or which courses to take at the same time, consider talking to students who have been in your shoes. Sometimes multiple sections of a class are offered in the same semester. This may mean there will be more than one professor for a given subject, and you can bet they’ll have a different approach not only in teaching style but also in grading. For instance, one professor may utilize a multiple-choice exam as the final while another has an assigned paper. Depending on which you prefer, this could be a deal breaker.

Learn as much as you can from your upper classmates as you plan your schedule. They can provide you with insight into class structure, professor demeanor and more. 

Now is a great time to determine your practice area and target classes accordingly. Some classes may seem more obvious than others. For example, if you’re interested in Immigration Law, you’d want to consider taking Administrative Law. What might not be so obvious, however, is that classes like Family Law and Employment Law share similar elements and would also be good classes to consider. Try to have a big-picture view so you can choose classes that fit your interest area while also giving you a well-rounded background for the legal field overall.

Balance exams and papers

One of the most appealing things about choosing your own classes during your 2L (and 3L) year is the ability to balance your course load to avoid being overloaded with final exams. It can make for a far less stressful semester if you pick courses that vary in their assessment requirements. Try for a balance of classes that require a final paper or project and those that have exams.

Plan beyond the fall semester

Your schedule isn’t just about your classes. Think of what else you hope to accomplish so you can fuel your other opportunities. If you’re planning to participate in externship programs, study abroad or other activities down the road, it’s good to have an open mind — and that big-picture view. This will help you keep your graduation requirements on track while also working toward certification, skills and other knowledge you’ll need for those extracurriculars.  

A few classes to consider for your 2L spring semester are:

  • Advanced Legal Research: This is a great opportunity to supplement your legal education with practical skills, as there are not a lot of research options outside of the 1L required course.
  • Business Associations: Although specific to Corporate Law, this can provide useful knowledge while checking off a bar class.
  • Constitutional Criminal Procedure: This is highly recommended if you’re interested in criminal law (and is also a bar class).
  • Evidence: If you’re interested in being certified as a law student to appear in court, Evidence is the way to go (and is another bar class).
  • Professional Responsibility: This is required in most schools, so be sure to fit it in (but check on requirements — different states have different requirements on the “right” amount of credits).

Talk to the Registrar

In addition to planning ahead, you may also want to stop by your Registrar’s Office to find out when certain classes are offered. For instance, if a professor is visiting and hosting a special seminar class, it might be your only chance to take that class.

Consider bar subjects

Since the whole point of going to law school is to pass the bar exam and become a practicing lawyer, taking classes that cover bar subjects while in law school are smart options. Some people even plan their entire class load based on if the class is tested on the bar exam. This might be a good approach for some students. For others, it might mean taking a class they will have to relearn during bar prep anyway, and perhaps those credits could have been spent elsewhere.

What 2L classes you choose will really depend on your personal preferences, interests and goals. Take the time to develop a plan, so you can be confident you’ll make the most of your 2L year.

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