On Regrets After YLS

February 15, 2008

S.M., 3L

As a graduating 3L, my only regret is that I didn't take more classes.

I know, this seems absurd. Who regrets not taking more classes? You figure most law students in this country regret not getting more involved in extracurricular activities, or not working on more different projects, or not having more of a social life, or not getting to the gym more often.

Me, I've spent the last two and a half years working on extraordinarily fulfilling projects, both through the different clinics I've taken and through internships and externships during the summers and during the school year, as well as extracurricular activities like the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism and the Workers' Rights Project. I've represented clients in federal and state court; I've written advisories on changes in the law that have gone out to practitioners across the country; I've helped some undocumented immigrants gain legal status, and struggled to prevent the deportation of others; I've given talks and moderated panels at litigation conferences; I've consulted with rabble-rousing community groups on grassroots organizing campaigns and with City Hall on municipal policy. And yes, I go out with friends pretty much every Friday and Saturday night, and I make it to the gym about twice a week.

But I didn't take a lot of classes.

The few classes I did take were phenomenal. Emerging Trends in Labor Law with Benjamin Sachs, former counsel to the Service Employees' International Union; Civil Procedure with Drew Days, who was Bill Clinton's first Solicitor General; The Social Organization of Law with Austin Sarat, who brings his unique perspective as a sociologist of crime and law enforcement. But there were so many others that I never had time to take. I never managed to take a class with Bruce Ackerman (whose books and articles I devour as they come out), or Judith Resnik (whose congressional testimony during the Roberts confirmation hearings left me awestruck), or Judge Guido Calabresi (whose judicial opinions on political asylees are among the most courageous in the country). I never managed to study Evidence, or Criminal Procedure, or even Property (you must remember, these courses are not required at Yale).

So yes, I regret that I didn't take more classes. Of course I did fulfilling work, and I developed strong personal relationships with the clinical professors who supervised me in court and with the academic faculty members who supervised my independent research and writing projects. But I spent relatively little time sitting in the lecture halls listening to YLS's brightest stars talk about the theoretic and empirical work that's made them famous. Luckily for you, Yale gives you the opportunity to do both.

Oh well -- there're always the lectures at Alumni Weekend...