The Annual Registration Angst, or, Do I Really Need to Take Income Tax?

I struggled a lot this year over my registration choices, not least because this is my last round of it. As a rising 3L, there are all sorts of concerns that I have to deal with when choosing my classes. Do I take bar classes? Do I take criminal law classes? Do I go light on myself because I’ll be a 3L, or do I cram in the last bit of high intensity academics that I will probably ever have in my life?

I spent hours staring at the little ‘planning packet’ that Academic Services handed out a few weeks ago – the list of classes that covered all the WA State Bar Exam topics, the list of “recommended” classes, the list of classes that will fulfill our advanced writing requirement, and so on and so forth, ad nauseum. Actually literally… I felt kinda nauseous after reading it. I realized that, no matter what I did, I wouldn’t be able to cram all of the bar classes into one year, even with three quarters to do it. So I had to prioritize – I realized that if I were to leave the corporate stuff until bar review, I know I would be totally screwed, because I need all the time I can get to learn that stuff.

After being reassured by a recent bar-passer in my office that you can learn most of the stuff in BarBri anyway, I decided to prioritize the bar classes based on what I’m worst at. I figured that those would be the subjects I would need to have already studied in law school in order to be able to re-learn in BarBri, so those were a must. But, I also realized I wouldn’t survive next year if I didn’t take one class per quarter that I am actually interested in. It looks like an LSAT problem doesn’t it? This is one area where I think the quarter system my school uses has the advantage over the traditional semester system – I get three chances to take classes, rather than two. The pressure is less in that sense, at least.

It’s all complicated by the fact that I am in a clinic next year – I’ll be participating in the Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic, which is super exciting, but takes up 6 of 16 credits first and second quarter. Thankfully my advanced writing requirement is satisfied by the corresponding class, Juvenile Justice Seminar, so I have that taken care of at least.

So for bar classes I ended up with the following list:

  • payment systems (AKA commercial paper)
  • business organizations
  • secured transactions
  • real estate transactions
  • administrative law
  • constitutional law II

For sanity-saving classes, I have these:

  • international law
  • privacy law

While that may not look like much in the way of fun, I count the Juvenile Justice class and my clinic in there with sanity classes, which round it out pretty well. What’s left, that I will have to learn in bar review class, is Transmission of Wealth, Community Property, WA Constitutional Law, and Civ Pro II, I think. That’s not so bad, and I really have faith that those are topics I can entrust to BarBri.

Choosing Next Year’s Classes, or, Underwater Basket Weaving for the Litigation Set

I find myself sailing into the third year of the law school odyssey, caught between the Scylla of practical classes and the Charybdis of the clerkship application process. I want to take classes that will give me some useful skills after I graduate, but at the same time those classes are often offered only on a pass/fail basis. (Yes, I know they’re technically called credit/no credit, but I don’t do that touchy-feely crap like my colleague Alex does. If you’re going to fail, you FAIL. You don’t simply not get credit.) Clerkship applications look better when you actually take classes for letter grades, and I took a heap of pass/fail credits in my 2L year (including the externship that kept me from starving to death last summer).

What’s worse, I feel like I’ve taken most of the classes I want to take, and the remaining classes I would take are either offered at the arse-crack of dawn (and I’m moving to the suburbs next year, so that would just be a recipe for disaster) or conflict with other classes I really need to take. And the classes that meet outside of the need-to-take classes are all underwater-basket-weaving type classes (this includes most seminars and most classes with the word “justice” in the title). Finally, I have this problem where if I have just one class on any given day, it becomes so easy to just blow off that one class, since it makes little sense to go all the way to campus for one hour and then go all the way home.

So what are the must-take classes? Since I’ll be a 3L, there are no must-take classes as such (except for professional responsibility, which I’ve already taken), but Conflicts of Laws and Federal Courts are the two classes that I’ve been told a litigator civil litigation lawyer (like me) has no business going into the world without taking. Civil Procedure II (which covers things like class actions, joinder, and preclusion doctrines) is another must-take course, but I took that in my 2L year, so it’s all good.

I’m also taking Trial Advocacy II, which is a rare bird, a skills-oriented letter-graded class. I’m also taking some tax classes, although I haven’t scraped together the $65 that it will take to actually get into the concurrent LL.M. program, so who knows if the administrative folks will actually let me in. I’m doing a bankruptcy clinic next year, too, which should be fun. And I’ve rounded out my schedule with a little o’ this, little o’ that (payment systems, medical malpractice, real estate transactions).

Alex is wanting me to take another class with our 1L torts professor (who also taught Civil Procedure II). I’m skeptical, though — I wasn’t happy with my grade in torts (not that I didn’t deserve it, just that I could have done better) and think I stuffed the exam in Civ Pro II (I’ve not yet had the intestinal fortitude to look at my autumn grades, which makes clerkship applications interesting), so I hesitate.