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The Value of Taking Practical Classes

published September 10, 2007

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( 4 votes, average: 4.4 out of 5)
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<<If you are like most law students, you probably chose a couple of classes that sounded intriguing, like Sports Law. While Sports Law may have sounded like a great class to take when you were registering, unless you plan on practicing sports law, there is not much practicality in taking this class. However, I, too, am guilty of having taken this class and thoroughly enjoyed it!

When registering for classes, you should begin to think ahead as to what subjects will be on your state bar examination and what type of law you are planning on practicing after law school. By taking classes that focus on subjects on the bar examination, you will be better prepared when that inevitable day finally arrives. While your fellow colleagues are cramming to learn the various subjects on the bar examination, you will be able to spend less time learning the generalities of these subject areas and more time learning their specific intricacies.

I attended law school in Texas and subsequently took the Texas bar examination. The core classes we were required to take were the usual: Constitutional Law, Torts, Evidence, etc. While attending law school, I was not quite sure what area of law I wanted to practice in. If your law school is like mine, we were not required to specialize in any particular area of the law.

Since I was not required to specialize in an area of law, I took courses that sounded intriguing—hence my decision to take Sports Law. I also took courses to prepare for the bar examination. Some of the courses I took were Bankruptcy, Consumer Law, and state-specific law courses that included Texas Pre-Trial Procedure and Texas Trial and Appellate Procedure.

When it finally came time to take the bar examination, I felt much more prepared in the subject areas on the bar than I would have had I not taken the courses that I had. However, I still regret not taking Oil and Gas, especially since this was one of the essay topics on the examination. "What are royalties?" I asked myself. Although I struggled through two and a half days of pure torture taking the examination, I passed on my first try. One of the happiest days of my life was when I scrolled down the Texas Board of Law Examiners page and saw my name on the list! If you are from Texas, you know what I am talking about.

For those of you who may be attending a law school in a different state from the state in which you plan on taking the bar examination, you obviously will not be able to take state-specific law courses that will be applicable to your situation. If this happens to be the predicament that you are in, plan on taking more practical courses like Trial Advocacy and Appellate Advocacy or courses that cover areas of the law in which you are interested in practicing after law school.

In law school, I took both Trial Advocacy and Appellate Advocacy, which helped me develop oral advocacy skills and improve my ability to write an appellate brief. These two classes gave me an edge in my first job as an attorney and have proven beneficial throughout my career. During my first job out of law school, I prepared and defended my clients' interests at administrative hearings several times a week with little training. I was basically "thrown to the wolves," as you may call it.

Although I had received minimal training from my law firm, by taking classes in trial and appellate advocacy, I was better equipped to represent my clients' interests. I knew how to adequately prepare my cases for hearings, deliver an opening and closing statement, direct and cross-examine a witness, and argue my clients' positions effectively in front of the administrative hearing judge. The skills that I learned in law school by taking these practical classes have only been enhanced as my career as an attorney has continued to grow.

By now, you should have some idea of what type of law you are interested in or have started thinking about the upcoming bar examination. However, if you are looking at your schedule of classes and wondering exactly why you chose to take some of the classes you registered for, just remember that there is always next semester!

About the Author

Summer Lee is an associate attorney in the law firm of Hermes Sargent Bates, LLP, in Dallas, Texas. Her practice is devoted to defending personal injury lawsuits, including employer liability, workers' compensation, and automobile accident.

published September 10, 2007

( 4 votes, average: 4.4 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.