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Designing Second- and Third- Year Curricula by Professor Emeritus William J. Rands

A. Three Basic Courses: Evidence, Federal Income Tax, and Corporations

Evidence, Federal Income Tax, and Corporations are courses that virtually all of our students take. That’s the way it should be. You should take them, too. Each of them covers a subject that is too expansive and complex to master on your own. Furthermore, the subjects covered are ubiquitous in legal practice. You will feel lost if you haven’t studied them.

You should probably take each of them in your second year of law school. They are foundation courses for numerous other courses in the curriculum and a prerequisite for many. By taking them in the second year, you will have preserved the most options for scheduling later on in law school.

B. Scheduling & the Bar Exam

Law professors often speak disdainfully about the tendency of students to take a course because it is on the bar exam. I do not share that disdain. I think it wise for students to note what subjects are on the bar exam and take many of the courses covering those subjects. I think so for two reasons. First, the bar exam is that big, nasty test that all of you will want to pass. If you fail it, you will be humiliated and maybe will even lose out on a job.

Second, and more importantly, the bar exam covers subjects that tend to show up with regularity in the practice of law. That is why those subjects are on the bar exam. So when you take a course that is covered on the bar exam, you are studying a subject matter that the bar examiners and the state supreme court considers important in the practice of law. Certainly, don’t feel obligated to take all of the bar courses. You won’t even have time to take all of them. But don’t disregard them either.

C. Talk to the Professors

I encourage you to talk to the professors about scheduling. You might feel most comfortable with a professor you have already had in a class. If you have questions about classes in a certain area of the law, you might get the most help from a professor who teaches in that area, even if you do not know that professor. All of us are willing to talk to you.