Choosing Your Electives

Students-at-laptopChoosing the right electives will help you achieve your personal and professional goals in law school and beyond. Below are some general recommendations for selecting your elective courses. Please note that many elective courses are not offered every semester, so it’s important to plan ahead. For guidance specific to your circumstances, consult the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs or your professors.

Think Broadly

Taking core courses in various areas can expand your thinking and your career options. If you want to explore multiple areas of law or keep your options open, you might take a few courses from each of our three paths to success. Even if you choose to specialize in a certain area of law, you will have clients with issues that intersect or overlap with other practice areas. Taking a broad range of electives will help you recognize and analyze issues outside of your practice area.

Additionally, you can take courses that give you a broader view of the law in relation to other academic disciplines and the legal process, or you can select courses that focus on particular perspectives. Jurisprudence, Bioethics & the Law, Gender & the Law, and National Security Law are just a few examples of these kinds of courses. Seminar courses often fall into the perspectives category of courses, and a full list of all these courses is included in each semester’s registration packet. 

Concentrate on Areas that Interest You

If you discover a passion for a certain area of legal practice, we will provide you with an opportunity to explore it. Concentrating your electives on specific topics allows you to gain specialized knowledge and skills that will be particularly valuable to certain clients. Specialization also differentiates you from other lawyers, giving you an edge with employers who want lawyers with particular skills.

Of course, overspecialization isn’t recommended (see “Think Broadly,” above), so you should choose your electives accordingly. For help in choosing a concentration, see our Guide to Practice Areas.

Take Skills Courses

Practical lawyering skills are crucial to success in practicing law. You have access to a number of courses, clinics and programs that can help you develop the skills that will fully prepare you for your legal career. To learn more, visit our Clinics and Professional Skills page.

Focus on the Bar Exam

Many students choose to use some of their elective courses to prepare for the bar exam. The number of courses you should take for this purpose depends on your personal circumstances, including factors such as your ability to learn a large amount of information quickly in a commercial bar prep course. For many students, devoting a large number of electives solely to bar preparation won’t be as worthwhile as taking courses that will prepare them for their careers. Taking too many bar courses, for example, can prevent you from concentrating on an area that interests you.

Nonetheless, students who struggle academically during law school often have a difficult time passing the bar. These students may benefit from taking more bar prep courses than the typical student. Our Guide to the Bar Exam can help students who are at risk choose courses to prepare them for the bar. If you are particularly concerned about passing the bar exam (especially if your cumulative GPA is in the fourth quartile of the class), we strongly encourage you to meet with our Academic Support staff, who can help you prepare for the bar.