Survey data reporting which elective courses lawyers wish they had taken in law school, and which were most useful, via Prof. Orin Kerr of GW Law.
1. Evidence — 156 respondents (27%)
2. Administrative Law — 120 respondents (21%)
3. Corporations — 105 respondents (18%)
Most wished had taken:
Of the wish list courses with more than 35 votes (6%), four were in the area of civil litigation, including the top of this list, Complex Litigation (50), plus Pre–Trial Advocacy (46), Trial Advocacy (44), and Alternative Dispute Resolution (36). Second highest on the overall wish list was Administrative Law (48), with many of those supporters listing other practice areas as their principal focus. Others high on this list were Corporate Finance (41) and Law & Accounting (38, including support outside the core practice areas). Some, but not all, of the observations based on the wish list can be explained because many of these courses were not offered when some of the respondents attended GW.
I’m glad, but not surprised, to see that Administrative Law made the top 3 for “most useful”. I highly recommend it. It also ranks highly on the “wish I had taken” scale, which fits what I hear from alums who have come back to visit. I’m somewhat surprised federal courts (aka federal jurisdiction) wasn’t ranked higher, especially in a DC school.
This was a study of elective courses with a small n. A better, but old, study can be found in F. ZEMANS & V. ROSENBLUM, THE MAKING OF A PUBLIC PROFESSION 146 (ABA, 1981)(In a survey of Chicago lawyers, 50.3% named Contracts, 25.2% Property, 23.5% Torts, 16.4% Civil Procedure and 16% Constitutional Law). As a teacher of Contracts, I’m not willing to give up on this old study.
Well, sure, those are all critical courses. Which is why we require them. But the question was electives.
I’m glad and not surprised to see admin do well, too, as it’s basic for so many areas of legal practice. I think people often don’t realize that, say, immigration, trade, public benefits, part of employment law, etc. are all examples of admin law. (Not to mention that in order to understand due process, and even equal protection to a lesser degree, you have to take admin.)