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What Courses Should You Take To Prepare For BigLaw?

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. | Last updated on

Now that you've secured your summer associate position, what courses should you take to prepare for your potential life as a first year at BigLaw?

Harvard law professors surveyed attorneys from 11 large firms to find out what courses law students should be taking to help them succeed as new associates, according to The Washington Post.

While the usual courses like evidence and federal courts are high up on the list, law students may be surprised that finance courses are highly recommended.

The Usual Suspects

For new associates, there's a ton of advice out there for what you should do, how you should behave, and how to manage your workload. However, one area that is a bit ignored is how you can broaden your skills by taking the most relevant courses for your job. Although the survey emphasized the need for more business-related courses, the most highly-rated, non-business courses included:

  • Evidence
  • Intellectual property law
  • Federal courts
  • Administrative law
  • Patent law
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Copyright law

Sidebar: It should be noted that these recommendations are for people seeking to be a litigator.

Get Your Calculator Out

BigLaw firms often handle big business deals. While the usual anti-trust, business organizations, and mergers and acquisitions courses are helpful, it may in your best interest to delve deeper into the finance field and take classes like accounting, financial reporting, or income tax, The Washington Post says.

While the idea of doing math in law school is horrifying for most of us -- I mean, I remember my whole class losing their heads when we calculated joint and several liability in Torts, practicing business and transactional law will inevitably involve some calculations.

See, understanding accounting and statistics could make you a stronger business negotiator. It's one thing to know the law, but having a deeper understanding of how it's applied in real life will give you a leg up on the competition. For example, knowing how to analyze a financial statement will show the senior partners that you aren't just faking it until you make it and may give you more responsibility and client interaction on the case.

The Harvard Law survey should act as a guideline for the courses you choose next semester, but shouldn't be the final word. You should still choose some electives in an area of law you've always been curious about, but try to avoid impractical courses, like historical legal theory, unless you think you might be on Jeopardy one day.

Have other course suggestions? Let us know on Facebook.

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