Picking Your 1L Elective

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin,
1L at
University of Arizona

At most schools, the ability to choose our first 1L elective course is just around the corner.

While it is exciting to finally have a 1L elective course choice; it can be a bit overwhelming. At my school, we will have to make this decision within in the next few weeks. I spoke to professors, the registrar, and with a few 2L & 3Ls to help me decide. Based upon our conversations, there seem to be five main pathways to determine which elective to add to your second semester of law school.

Test the Waters

1L Elective

We all have aspirations of what we would like to do after law school. Perhaps you came to your law school for their environmental law program. Maybe you are confident you want to be an immigration attorney. The 1L elective can be a great time to “test the water” to see if you are on the right career path. If you take an introductory topic course now, you can either affirm your commitment to your chosen path or self-select out if you decide it is not for you.

Tackle Prerequisites

This approach takes a little bit more planning and research but can have a huge payoff. You may have a requirement for a clinic, or you already know you want to pursue a specific JD certificate. Using the 1L elective to satisfy this requirement can save you time, and may provide you with an advantage to be selected for that clinic, or be attractive to employers since you’ve demonstrated a commitment to your chosen path.

Base it On The Professor

Who do you want to spend your time with for a semester? This is where speaking with 2L and 3Ls can provide valuable insight. Perhaps there is a professor that only teaches a course once every few years that is highly recommended and beloved by all of their previous students. If you are lucky enough to have the class offered during your 1L, do you pass up that opportunity?

Be Open To New Possibilities

Perhaps you have never had an interest in Family Law, but there is it on your 1L elective list. Don’t be too quick to dismiss it. Now might be the perfect time to experiment with different areas of the law. Who knows, maybe you’ll love the subject and have a new career path.

Skip It All Together

This may not be an option at your school, but some people have recommended that unless taking a 1L elective is mandatory, you might want to skip it. This may seem like an attractive move, especially if you’ve found the course load challenging in the Fall semester, but be wary of graduation and other enrollment requirements. Plus, if you want to take the February Bar, this is likely not an option.

I also highly recommend speaking with your registrar to find out how often classes are offered. At our school, for example, one of the electives is offered every semester, while another is available only in the Spring.

What did I decide to do? I am taking Business Organizations. This is a required course for three of the JD Certificates I am considering pursuing and a prerequisite for a few other. Plus many 2L and 3Ls recommended the professor and it will be on the bar exam. How did you decide on your 1L elective? Let me know @The1lLife on Twitter or Instagram!