Diary of a 2L: Course Registration

by Sarah Ricciardi

With fall class registration on the horizon, I thought I’d share a few things that I wish I knew when I was a 1L.  There will be many students who will study grade distributions and register predominantly for seminars in order to beat the B median curve.  However, that may not be the best approach to your second year.  As many of you know, your 1L grades are the most important in law school.  The class rank or percentage that you receive in July will greatly influence where you work your 2L summer – especially if you participate in the fall recruiting program.  For a number of students, the 2L summer job will lead to an offer for after graduation.  Unless you completely botch the rest of your law school career, your grades 2L and 3L years are just not as important.  Therefore, you shouldn’t be overly concerned about grade distributions during class selection.  Take what interests you!  Or take something that may help you find that summer job.  If you want to work in a litigation firm, take evidence.  If you want to work in an employment department, take collective bargaining.  This will give you talking points during your interviews.  Many attorneys will ask, “Why are you taking X course?” You’re going to need a better answer than “I wanted to beat the curve.”  Similarly, take into consideration what you will actually be doing at your next job if you know.  A course on corporate tax will definitely help you at your job at JP Morgan – no matter what grade you got in it.  The law and contemplation course probably won’t be as valuable– even if you got an A.

Pay attention to prerequisites.  Despite how it feels most of the time, law school is really not that long.  You only get four semesters where you actually get to choose your classes.  If you don’t take the proper prerequisites early, the rest of your time at law school could be pretty frustrating.  If you are unsure of what prerequisites you might need, make an appointment with one of the deans.  They are very helpful, and they are the only ones who really know the school’s academic regulations.  It is better to figure it out now – especially when many courses are only offered once a year.

Another important thing to consider during registration is what the rest of your schedule looks like – outside of the classroom.  If you choose to participate in a journal, it can take up quite a bit of time.  If you are selected for Law Review, expect to spend at least 20 hours a week in the office.  Therefore, think about the amount of time you will be spending on campus.  Maybe don’t pile your classes on top of one another, allowing you to get in a few hours at the office in between so that you don’t have to come to campus as frequently when you don’t have class.

Lastly, if you ask an evening division student, he will tell you that night classes are not easy.  It may seem like a great idea to sign up for a bunch of night classes so that you can extern or work during the day.  However, keep in mind that it makes for a VERY long day.  While grades may not be as important next year, you still can’t sleep through all of your classes.  At 9pm on a Thursday after working all day, I want to be on my couch watching Scandal in my pajamas – not listening to a lecture about immigration reform.  Remember, law school is a voluntary undertaking – and it ain’t cheap!  Get the most out of it and make decisions that won’t leave you with regrets as an upperclassman.