My first semester as a 1L part-time student has been interesting and enjoyable so far. All in all, the workload has been manageable, and my professors have gone above and beyond in terms of helpfulness. Smaller section size is one of the biggest benefits of the part-time program. Professors know us by name and call on us at least once a week. It feels like my classmates all know each other by name and are comfortable asking each other for help.
It’s difficult to pick out a single class as my favorite because they’re all different and interesting. At the same time, there are common threads that tie them all together. This semester, I’m taking Civil Procedure, Property, and Lawyering Skills and Strategies. Civil Procedure is an overview of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and how to handle a civil case from filing a complaint (start) to post-trial procedures (finish). My professor really makes the class both interactive and entertaining. At one point during the semester, he brought in a robotic parrot to assist the class in memorizing the standard for specificity. We’ve also had several class visitors, like a judge and police officer, who have helped us act out difficult doctrines of law and steps in the litigation process. Finally, the class tried a mock civil case from start to finish, and I participated as a witness. It was another chance to practice the theoretical knowledge we learned.
In addition to regular case readings, our professor assigns litigation problems to small groups of students periodically throughout the semester. When my turn came around, I drafted a Rule 12(b) Motion to Dismiss and then collaborated with some of my classmates who were drafting a complaint as the opposing party. Getting hands-on experience like this really helped both the practical and theoretical aspects of the material.
Property has been my most challenging class, particularly in regards to deed recording, equity, and the infamous Rule Against Perpetuities. Despite the difficulty of some of the material, my favorite part of class has been exploring policy decisions behind certain rulings. It feels as if this class has covered the most theoretical knowledge, and probably my biggest take away has been analytical thinking. I did have a “law student moment” while watching television with a non-law student friend a few weeks ago. A character on the show mentioned something about going to visit family land, and I thought aloud, “I wonder if she can trace her title back to the sovereign.” My friend gave me a look that was part confusion and part condescension.
In Lawyering Skills and Strategies, we learn about legal research and writing. So far we’ve written a client advice letter and a memo, and the major graded memo is due in a few weeks. Right now we’re studying how to draft contracts, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s definitely showed me the importance of precision and attention to detail in writing (necessary skills in any field, to be honest). My favorite thing about the class was learning about levels of authority and geographical jurisdictions, which we discussed concurrently with our discussion of jurisdiction in Civil Procedure.
All things considered, school has been enjoyable from an academic and social standpoint, and both the stress and coursework have been manageable. In the interest of full disclosure, it’s not exam season yet, so I don’t have full experience as to the extent of law school stress yet!