March 26, 2007
At the end of last year, amidst the chaos of the holiday season, combined with the end of classes, I did not realize how special it was to select classes for second semester of your 1L year (I chose my preliminary schedule last December for the spring term). In fact, I bemoaned the selection process again in late January, as I went from course to course, shopping for the perfect schedule.
It really was not until recently that I realized my second semester courses, picked by me, with my interests in mind, are anomalies in the legal world.
This past weekend, I was in Puerto Rico (yes, the trip was fantastic) and surrounded by law students from various other schools (no, not even law students can ruin a weekend in Puerto Rico, especially when the northeast is experiencing sub-zero temperatures). Of course, students from other schools began lamenting about their pre-fixed course load. I heard the usual complaints about bad professors, classes that began too early in the morning, and overall boring subject matter. One “lucky” 1L student went to a school where he was able to choose an elective this semester, and only had three more requirements for his 2L year.
Instead of obnoxiously explaining the Yale system, I left – albeit with a grin on my face – as I realized one of Yale’s many luxuries.
Indeed, Yale does have requirements. I remember fondly taking Constitutional Law, Torts, Civil Procedure and Contracts for one semester, but that is it -- nothing more. To be fair, I must take Criminal Law at some point before I graduate, but I can do this during any of my remaining five semesters. I have noticed that this creates a system where students can almost immediately take classes that interest them.
Personally, I felt I needed a better grasp of business upon entering law school. With my undergraduate experience focusing mostly in the humanities, I wanted to branch out and learn more black letter law, as well as enrich my understanding of the global market. To do this, I enrolled in Business Organizations, and Law and Globalization. Both courses underscore the law’s importance in business exchanges and global trade – I have found both classes riveting. Already less than a month into the semester, I have increased my business knowledge exponentially.
I also had the opportunity to enroll in Antidiscrimination Law, and take two clinics. Yale’s willingness to allow first-year students to enroll in legal clinics is another one of the school’s unique benefits. With the clinics, I am representing victims of domestic violence, as well as helping non-profit institutions attain 501(c)(3) status.
Finally, this schedule lets me have three day weekends and class not beginning before 2 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.
To be honest, I was not fully aware of Yale’s approach to classes before I enrolled here – however, I can attest that the Law School’s willingness to allow students to enroll in classes of interest has enriched my already bright experience here.