How to Pick Classes for 2L

How to Pick Classes for 2LThis week we welcome back guest writer Alexandra Muskat to talk about the best way to go about choosing your 2L classes for next year.

When you first start law school, you are required to take a specific set of classes – criminal law, contracts, civil procedure, legal writing and research, property law, constitutional law, and torts. But, towards the middle of your second semester 1L, you’ll be able to pick your own classes for the following year.

At the time, I picked classes based on what my friends were taking. I had no idea what I was interested in and was terrified by everything to do with law school. I’m not going to lie, I basically hid from reality and went along with whatever my friends were doing. But, I wish I hadn’t, it probably would have made what happened with them a bit easier. It took until my second semester of 2L to look into courses and figure out what I wanted to take.

Choose Topics you Like, not what your Classmates Like

It’s fun to take courses with your friends. It creates insulation during a stressful time, and you can study together, ask each other questions, and sit together in class. But, if you aren’t genuinely interested in the topic, it’s just a waste of time. In my second year, we were required to take Professional Responsibility but allowed to pick the other 3-4 courses as we saw fit. My friends were taking Copyright law, Trusts and Estates, Evidence, and Criminal Procedure. I wasn’t able to get into Evidence or Criminal Procedure, and I had no desire to take Trusts and Estates but did anyway.

I wish I had taken other courses I was actually interested in. For instance, I would have signed up for Health Law and a Juvenile Law course.

Take Evidence, Trusts and Estates, and consider Criminal Procedure

In the second year, there are specific courses you should take that will help you greatly on the bar. Evidence is a super difficult class, but once you have that base, re-learning it for the bar becomes much more manageable. I wasn’t able to get into the course my friends were in and had to wait till the second semester of 2L to take it. Because I had to wait, I ended up getting a less-popular instructor who turned out to be the best kind of teacher for my learning style. I loved going to class, and I loved learning hearsay. I don’t think I would have done nearly as well on the bar if I hadn’t taken that class.

I got absolutely nothing out of Trusts and Estate, but that was more because of the teacher than the actual course. I wish I had taken it with another professor instead of opting for the easy A. Trusts and Estates was by far the hardest bar subject for me, and I know it’s because I had no base for it from law school. If you have the option, adding this course to your repertoire will help immensely when you sit down for bar prep.

Criminal procedure makes up one half of the criminal law portion of the bar exam, but it’s barely touched on in criminal law classes. It covers the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments, and there is generally, always, an essay question on the bar that includes one of those amendments and the way they interact with a criminal law question. You don’t have to take this course, I did just fine on the bar without it, but it took a lot more effort to learn criminal procedure from scratch than if I’d had a baseline. If you have the option, I would definitely take it.

Venture Outside Your Comfort Zone

After being shunned by my friend group the second semester of 2L, I dropped all the classes I was taking with them and moved on to greener pastures. I signed up for classes I was genuinely interested in, and not surprisingly, I found my voice. I had never raised my hand in class until then. I stumbled through cold calling, and I never spoke to a teacher during office hours. But that semester, I started answering questions, volunteering my opinion, and enjoying law school. I also discovered I could pick up an internship in exchange for class credit and was able to work at the Juvenile Court for the entirety of my law school experience.

Some of my favorite “off-the-beaten-path” classes were Gaming Law, Food Law, Children with Disabilities, Positive Psychology for Lawyers, and Mediation.

Take the time during 1L to think of courses you might like to take; think of fields where you might want to practice. Try and take classes that are subjects on the bar exam – to make re-learning for the bar a smoother experience. And consider what you are interested in, don’t worry about what your friends are doing. You just might see who you are and what you are capable of in the process.


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About Alexandra Muskat

Alexandra graduated from Suffolk University Law School in 2017 and passed the UBE in all 29 states, not that anyone’s counting. She has a bachelors from Florida International University in English Literature with concentrations in Psychology and Creative Writing. In addition to working on her first novel, she works part time consulting in laboratory compliance.

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