But it's certainly better than taking exams. Which gets me, at least tangentially, to a recent question posed by reader Shell of Shelley's Case. In a comment to a recent post, Shell asked: "I am curious as to what your least favorite and most favorite subjects were during law school."
Talk about flashing me back.
Favorites would include the following, in no particular order. This is a list of favorites, mind you, and not a list of courses that were necessarily most beneficial, either in a generalist practitioner sense or in the sense of being useful courses for specializing in a particular area of law. Come to think if it, those are good subjects for future blog posts in the spring, when course selection decisions are being made by law students nationwide.
But back to the question at hand--some of my favorites, in no particular order.
- American Legal History. This course can be excellent for history lovers, and also for getting a broader perspective on the evolution of law in general and American legal developments in particular.
- Administrative Law. This may be evidence of a character defect on my part, since many people do not like taking this class. Part of it was the prof I had (Gary Lawson, who is now at Boston U.), and part perhaps because I had very, very low expectations going in. But it was also just a fascinating course in many ways, and one I love teaching now.
- Contracts. Perhaps this is more evidence of a character defect. But I loved the story of the rise and fall of formal contract theory, and how economic thought had influenced the law in this area. And it's another course I enjoy teaching.
- Law and Economics. This is not a bar course, but the Law and Econ movement has had such a huge impact on the law in recent decades that I think students ignore it at their peril. And I was an economics major (undergrad and masters), so it was right up my alley. For those who think economic theory is not relevant to "real world" lawyering, can you say "policy argument"?
- Civil Procedure. I honestly think I liked this course not so much for the subject as I did for the professor, Marty Redish, who was absolutely superb.
- Property. Clearly I am a geek, since I seem to be mentioning far too many 1L courses. But I loved the evolution of the law in this area too.
Least Favorite courses: Actually, only 1 really comes to mind. The grand prize goes to:
- Bankruptcy. Argh. I am not sure what it was about this course that I did not like, but I did not like it, Sam I Am. It had economic theory in spades, which I do generally like, and it was business-oriented, which should have made it interesting to me. It was also not my first experience with code courses, so that doesn't explain it. And the profs (there were 2, and they team-taught) were fine--I actually took them again for another course. But this course was just no fun at all. Far and away my least fun course.
All in all, part of what this list shows is that I actually enjoyed law school for the most part. And that the courses that have stuck with me over the years and influenced my thinking about the law were a combination of core (1L and bar) courses and other courses, and sometimes not the courses I would have expected. Which perhaps suggests (a) that the core courses are core courses for a reason, and (b) that students should not just blindly take what others tell them to take (i.e., the "bar courses" or the "fun courses.") But again, more on the subject of course selection in a later post.
And now, back to grading.