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The Only One L Class that Really Matters

At this point it is pretty clear that one of the primary components of law school success is knowing what is important, and what isn’t. Going to class is important. Preparing for class? Not important. Outlining every day: not important. Outlining a few weeks before exams? Very important. Subject matter of classes? With the exception of one, not important.

The content of one first year class, however, is critically important.

Some law students are surprised when I tell them that it does not matter what classes they take in law school. Apparently they picked classes in undergrad based on their personal interests, and they assume that they should do the same in law school. There could not be anything further from the truth. Ask any practicing lawyer if any of their real law practice relies on anything they learned in a law school class about an area of the law, and most lawyers will look at you like you have just spoken in Portuguese.

No offense is meant to the law school classes. Law school subject matter classes are meant to teach you (1) how to reason as a lawyer, (2) to prepare you for subject matter that may appear on the bar exam and (3) some of them are also intended to teach you law that you will use in your practice. These classes certainly do help you learn to reason as a lawyer. Still, it doesn’t matter what the subject matter is to do this.

Perhaps law school classes help prepare you for the bar exam. They didn’t for me. The only classes you take in law school that are tested on the Bar—for the most part—are classes you take in the One L year. But taking Bar Bri® or one of the other bar exam prep classes and memorizing your outlines are more than sufficient to get ready for the Bar exam.

Some classes may be intended to prepare young lawyers for practice, but in fact this almost never works this way in real life. Young lawyers rarely have any influence on what sort of law they start out practicing. Young lawyers do whatever they are told. By the time that you are practicing any law you choose to practice, you will either have forgotten what you learned in law school, or the disputes you are dealing with are well beyond the class room material. If they aren’t, they would probably never end up in a lawyer’s hands in the first place.

All of that being said, there is a One L class that has content that really matters: your legal research and writing class. In my next post we will talk about why that is.

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