The New Third Year of Law School

  • This is the second in a series of posts by law firm partner/former hiring partner Jay Price*

The New Third Year of Law School.
*            By Jay Price*

I’m sure you’ve heard the old law school saying — scare you to death as a 1L, work you to death as a 2L and bore you to death as a 3L.  The constants:  first year can be like the Hunger Games minus the comforting song of the mockingjay; second year adds more class material, interviewing and law journals.  That said, I believe third year has or should be changing for students.

In the gilded age, more students secured jobs early third year.  With that came joy, followed by a lack of educational motivation. While there were classes still necessary for inevitable world legal domination, there seemed to be room for some classes rumored to be less demanding — Law and Your DVR, Kickboxing Law, Advanced Torts – The Zombie Apocalypse or whatever else seemed to catch the vivid imagination of a well-tenured professor.

I believe many third years are now wisely taking their final lap around the coliseum of legal academia more seriously.  Lately, I have had more students asking what classes they should be taking as third years.  As always:  take some major classes covered by the bar exam (a 55 minute video does not always make for a confident test taker), and take any advanced classes in your desired or anticipated (not always the same) practice area.

In my curriculum advice, my new emphasis is on taking the adjunct professor seminars that past third years may have avoided on grounds that it met once a week for 3 hours (equivalent to 5 hours for a 3L) on a night when everyone was going out or because it was known for weekly (and possibly challenging) homework assignments.  Despite the drawbacks:

  • These classes offer invaluable practical experience, as the assignments are often what first year associates will see;
  • Work is reviewed and critiqued by practicing lawyers; and
  • You’ll hear more than your fair share of relevant war stories.

Although classes are generally smaller and will require more participation, more work and, of course, attendance, I believe third year is the best time to take advantage of these classes (whether your job situation is or isn’t settled).  These classes can prove to be a head start for many first year attorneys (unless, of course, your practice will focus on kickboxing or zombies).

*Joel (“Jay”) A. Price, Jr. is a partner at Burr & Forman LLP, a full service Southeastern law firm with offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee.  Jay has served terms as Associate Chair, Recruiting Committee Member, Hiring Partner and as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee.  Jay earned a B.A. in Economics and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University. You can follow Jay on Twitter @jprice_burr.  *