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Author Topic: Interesting Courses v. Bar-Preparation Courses  (Read 2734 times)

Michael Essien

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Interesting Courses v. Bar-Preparation Courses
« on: November 25, 2008, 03:13:06 PM »
So a group of us were debating whether we should take courses we're interested in or courses to better prepare ourselves for the bar.

I was in the pro-interest camp (and still maintain my position) as I think once you're studying for the bar you will learn the necessary law anyway, and it also behooves you to make the study of law as interesting as possible .  However, I'm still open to contrary opinion.

What say you?

uh huh.

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Re: Interesting Courses v. Bar-Preparation Courses
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2008, 04:43:00 PM »
There is a saying circulated at my firm that goes, "All that you get out of taking a course on a subject is a 3 hour head start on the research." And I've found that to be largely true. I didn't take many of the subjects that are on the bar exam, and I passed in two states. The only one that I found really useful, besides those that were first year requirements, was New York Civil Practice just because there is so much information that you need to know, that you might as well get a head start on memorizing it all. Evidence was a waste of time and I wish I had never taken that class (learned it just fine in BarBri). Instead of taking bar prep courses, I took every course offering in the field of bankruptcy, which is what I practice now, and I'm really glad that I did it that way.

Zam

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Re: Interesting Courses v. Bar-Preparation Courses
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2008, 05:24:37 PM »
There is a saying circulated at my firm that goes, "All that you get out of taking a course on a subject is a 3 hour head start on the research." And I've found that to be largely true. I didn't take many of the subjects that are on the bar exam, and I passed in two states. The only one that I found really useful, besides those that were first year requirements, was New York Civil Practice just because there is so much information that you need to know, that you might as well get a head start on memorizing it all. Evidence was a waste of time and I wish I had never taken that class (learned it just fine in BarBri). Instead of taking bar prep courses, I took every course offering in the field of bankruptcy, which is what I practice now, and I'm really glad that I did it that way.

I'm a 2L, so I haven't taken the bar yet, but I think it's a good idea to note that in some states you can be 3rd year practice certified if you've taken certain courses, meaning that during your 2L summer and 3L year you can actually argue cases in front of courts as long as there's an attorney there vouching for you. In VA these classes include Professional Responsibility and Evidence. Also, I think every, or almost every state, requires you to pass the MPRE which is a professional responsibility test, and it is a good idea to take PR before you take that.

Personally I think you can find time in your law school schedule to take classes that interest you and classes that relate to the bar. I don't think it's an either/or situation. And, a lot of the classes that are bar classes are taught first year anyway OR are pretty interesting.

I think it's a good idea to "taste" different things at any rate.

uh huh.

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Re: Interesting Courses v. Bar-Preparation Courses
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2008, 05:54:01 PM »
Also, I think every, or almost every state, requires you to pass the MPRE which is a professional responsibility test, and it is a good idea to take PR before you take that.



Well, I'll disagree here. I took the MPRE a full year before I took Professional Responsibility (which was required for my school), and passed the first time. I just took an 8-hour BarBri review course two weeks before the MPRE, took a practice test. Really, my PR class had little to do with the MPRE material.

CoxlessPair

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Re: Interesting Courses v. Bar-Preparation Courses
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2008, 02:08:41 PM »
I was asking this exact same question heading into my 2L and I got the advice to pursue the fun/easy A/interesting courses. I followed it and it ended up being a great decision. It allowed me to graduate with a high GPA (seminars with papers instead of getting pwn3d in a 4 hour commercial paper class) and Bar/Bri truly does give you everything you need for the bar.

Bar/Bri earns their money, in my opinion, by emphasizing what is testable for the Bar and what is not. Professors, on the other hand, like to play on the fringes, stuff that is academically but not practically useful. Taking law school classes on bar subjects will give you the general exposure to these concepts but most of your time will be learning principles that will do no good or will give you way too much information. Classes I took like Corporations would spend weeks on a subject like the business judgment rule, fleshing out all of the nuances and policy. For the bar, you simply need to be able to recognize the BJR as an issue and determine if it applies. 2-3 sentences max.

I was initially terrified of running into Commercial Paper or Secured Transactions on the bar, as I had never seen these in law school. Comm Paper did end up showing on the exam and I felt like knocked the question out of the park; I knew more than enough of all the relevant stuff, no wasted effort.

In all, I graduated with honors thanks to the easy classes, still passed the bar, and have no regrets with taking that path.

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jacy85

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Re: Interesting Courses v. Bar-Preparation Courses
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2008, 04:22:19 PM »
I would recommend taking Evidence, but otherwise, Bar/Bri works for everything else.  Some of the evidence rules are tricky, and hearsay rules are a lot to keep straight even if you knew them going into Bar/Bri. I woudl have struggled a lot more, personally, if I was learning evidence for the first time this past summer.

Otherwise, I say take what's interesting to you and/or some easy As.  It can't hurt to take some bar classes (corporations has been helpful both for the Bar and so far at my firm), and I'm glad I have some familiarity with wills and trusts from taking that class.  So if you have to add a class, and have no inclination any which way, you may want to consider taking something like that.  But if you have a long list of easy or interesting classes, I'd take those instead.

NeverTrustKlingons

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Re: Interesting Courses v. Bar-Preparation Courses
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2008, 05:00:24 PM »
I asked every OCI recruiter this question (which upperclass courses they would like to see), almost uniformly they said none required UNLESS you are claiming to be an expert or have a burning interest in x.  If that's the case, take some courses along those lines.

A minority of recruiters (read: one) said that she expected entry-level business lawyers to have at a minimum Corporations, Tax, Secured Transactions....
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dbgirl

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Re: Interesting Courses v. Bar-Preparation Courses
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2008, 05:01:50 PM »
Most schools require you to take some bar courses anyway, such as property, crim, conlaw, etc.
That said, I don't think it's necessary to take all bar courses. I had an instructor actually tell our class that it can HARM people to take bar courses.  

I think taking bar courses can give you a false sense of security.  For example, I was really GREAT at property, but the things that the bar tests in property are very different from the things my teacher taught.  The same goes for contracts. I realized when I took BAR/BRI that half the stuff that you're taught in bar courses isn't on the bar, while half the stuff that's on the bar you don't learn in bar courses.

I agree with Jacy that evidence is a useful course to take.  If I hadn't studied that topic so hard in law school I would have been hopeless on the bar.  I disagree that corporations was helpful for the bar. My teacher was not at all interested in teaching what you need for the bar.  It was a very good course if you find that subject interesting or useful for your future, but it was useless for the bar, imo.
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txlawstu

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Re: Interesting Courses v. Bar-Preparation Courses
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2008, 06:41:08 PM »
It all depends on the professors approach to the class.  If it is a bar topic and the prof teaches you toward the bar exam, then it is good.  Also, if it is a difficult subject, such as Evidence, it helps to have a familiarity with it going into Bar study.  It also depends on the importance of the topic to the bar your taking. 

What I did was find out what is tested the most in Texas.  Family law almost always has one of the two questions on marital property, so I took that course in school.  I also checked into what UCC courses were more important.

After taking the bar exam, I highly recommend Secured Transactions.  There were a lot of property questions on the MBE that were actually secured transaction questions.  They don't tell you that in either Barbri or PMBR, but they clearly were.  In Texas, I recommend marital property or at the very least a general family law course.  It's tough to learn it all in barbri alone. 

I found payment systems, UCC 3 & 4, to be a waste of time.  Business associations was required at my school.  I recommend it if you are a business dummy like me, but if you understand the make up and formation already it's probably a waste if not required.

But, we all learn differently and the professors all approach it differently so the advice will vary.

Contract2008

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Re: Interesting Courses v. Bar-Preparation Courses
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2008, 06:43:54 PM »
So a group of us were debating whether we should take courses we're interested in or courses to better prepare ourselves for the bar.

I was in the pro-interest camp (and still maintain my position) as I think once you're studying for the bar you will learn the necessary law anyway, and it also behooves you to make the study of law as interesting as possible .  However, I'm still open to contrary opinion.

What say you?

It all depends.  If you go to a top 20 law school and you're not in the bottom 20% of the class.  Take what's fun and interesting.  If you go to a Tier 2, 3, 4, and you're in the bottom 1/3 of the class, take as many bar classes as you can.   

There are about 20 bar exam subjects and you have only about three months to master them all.  I would be helpful if you have taken a full semester for certain subjects, especially evidence.