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What’s Next After 1L Year?: Planning Your Future Course Schedules

If you’ve just finished your 1L year – congratulations! If you had a 1L year like me, there were likely a lot of late nights, stress, tears, and eating Oreos. However, completing one year of law school is an amazing feat. Now what? It’s time to start planning!
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing your classes for the rest of your law school career. This Article will go through each factor you should be thinking about when choosing your courses and planning your schedules.

1. Requirements. You want to plan the way in which you will satisfy all of your graduation and degree requirements. For example, many law schools have other required courses to take after your first year, like professional responsibility or evidence. Many law schools also have graduation writing requirements, so you’ll need to plan to take a course that allows you to write a paper to satisfy that requirement. You may also have to take a certain number of experiential learning credits. Check your graduation requirements and be sure to incorporate them all when choosing your classes.

2. Career Path & Areas of Interest. When you’re deciding your classes, it’s important to consider what legal area you want to get into, if you know, or what interests you. For example, if you want to be a prosecutor or a defense attorney, you’ll want to take your school’s criminal law and trial advocacy classes. Or, if you want to practice in a transactional area, you’ll want to fit in courses like business associations and contract drafting. The possibilities are endless! So, be sure to do the following: (1) write down your area(s) of interest, (2) write down which courses your school offers that coincides with those interests, and (3) check to see if any are offered before you graduate.

3. Bar Exam Subjects. Although the bar exam seems like it may be far away, it’s just waiting around the corner! You will want to be familiar with all of the subjected tested on the bar exam. I recommend taking all of the subjects tested on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), and some classes (if you cannot take all) that are tested on the essay portion. Taking as many bar-tested classes as you can will put you in a better position when studying for the exam to maximize your first time success.

4. Balance. This is important. Law school courses are difficult, so you want to take some “easier” or enjoyable classes while you take the hard doctrinal courses. For example, if you are taking evidence and constitutional law, you may also want to take mediation, a different type of class than something so dense and case heavy. If you are going to take a clinic or an externship, you do not want to throw too many classes onto your plate to ensure you do a great job in your placement and so you do not burn out. Balance is key.

5. Other Tips. Finally, there are some other issues to keep in mind when picking your courses and planning your schedules. First, you may want to consider taking classes with professors you like. Second, check the grade distributions of certain courses you’re uncertain of. If you are trying to boost your GPA, taking a course where the professor gives low grades may not be for you. Finally, you may want to give yourself a break in your final semester of your last year. You worked hard up until that point and will be transitioning towards graduation and bar preparation. So, it’s not a bad idea to get everything difficult out of the way!
So, it’s one hurdle down, and a few more to go. However, planning your schedule and mapping out everything in advance will only make it easier for you. Good luck on your future planning!


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