Choosing Your Courses

February 12, 2008

C.P. 1L

I am loving my first year of law school. True, it is supposed to be one of the most difficult; but at YLS the first year experience is something I find myself enjoying more and more as I begin the second semester. One of the great things about first year at YLS is the ability to choose courses for second term. This curricular freedom is quite rare as law schools go – many other first year law students have the entire year predetermined. The ability to plan your schedule, tailoring it to your interests and passions, is a YLS hallmark.

While choosing courses is exciting, it can be overwhelming. In order to ease the pressure a bit, Yale allows a one-week “shopping period” for students to attend courses galore – commitment free – before settling on a final schedule. Although my undergraduate institution had a similar shopping period, it was not widely practiced. Here, however, shopping is the way to sample a wide variety of courses in order to ultimately find the right assemblage of coursework. Shopping classes was truly beneficial; I feel confident that the specific courses I have chosen will be complementary, well balanced, and stimulating. I am taking “black-letter” law courses - business organizations and criminal administration - a seminar on peace making, and a clinic. This mix affords me the opportunity to add two more blocks to my growing legal foundation, allows me to pursue the international law interests I brought with me to YLS, and will expose me to hands-on practical experience through my clinic.

Perhaps a word on YLS clinics is in order. Another related benefit to the first year freedom is the ability to participate in clinics. Yale has some of the most fascinating, rewarding, and active clinics. They span the gamut from environmental protection, immigration services, to education policy, and domestic violence (and many, many more!). I chose the Legal Services for Immigrant Communities clinic, which is an outreach based clinic – meaning that once a week our clinic travels to one of two outreach centers to conduct interviews and meet with clients. After hearing the clients’ legal dilemmas the clinic decides which cases to take and then assigns the cases to the clinic members (that’s right, first year students). So, as a first year student I will be interviewing clients, drafting legal documents, and representing their interests in court: this all seems daunting, but using the law to impact the community will be a challenging and rewarding supplement to studying the law.