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August 22, 2011

Some Good Things About a Third Year in Law School

Over at the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Shea usefully seeks to turn the blawgosphere's attention from "Is Law School a Scam?" issue to other important questions--like "Is the Third Year of Law School a Scam?"  That's not actually the way he characterizes his question, of course. He frames it in a less hyperbolic way.

I thought I might offer a few reasons why the third year of law school is useful--in the form of a Letterman Top Ten list. Of course, these ten reasons could be counterweighed by even more numerous or stronger arguments on the other side.

10. Given the lack of resources (or incentive) of private law firms to engage in training, a third year allows one to take advanced courses in a variety of subjects. I, for example, took Advanced Civil Procedure in my last term (with the great Geoff Hazard, now a part of the incomparable UC family).

9. A third year allows one to experiment by taking courses in new areas, perhaps opening one's eyes to areas of the law that might not have seemed initially appealing.

8. Having finished taking most bar classes, a student can now finally take courses related to his or her passions.

7. Third year students run a variety of programs essential to the law school curriculum, like Moot Court or Barrister's Union.

6. Having a third year allows one two summers while enrolled as a student, thus giving one the opportunity to experiment with two different firms, two different cities, or two different kinds of legal practice.

5. A third year allows one to write and publish notes in the Law Journal, thus improving one's research and writing skills dramatically.

4. In many schools still, the first year is almost entirely spoken for with mandatory courses. A third year gives one longer opportunity to actually study the areas one is keen to study.

3. A third year allows one to serve as a research assistant to law professors, thus building an important relationship with someone who might be a good mentor.

2. Without third year law students, the legal academy would lose those who run student-edited law reviews, the principal means for distributing legal scholarship. 

1. By the time of third year, you finally know where the best bars are. (Okay, most folks probably figured this out during their first week of law school. It just took me longer.)

What would you miss most if you never had a third year in law school? Alternatively, why do you think a third year was unnecessary?

Anupam Chander


August 22, 2011 in Serving students, Teaching -- curriculum | Permalink


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