Interesting Survey on What Elective Courses Lawyers Wish They Had Taken in Law School, and What Courses Were Most Useful

GW Law School (where I teach) recently sent an e-mail to its alumni asking for their views of what elective courses they now wish they had taken in law school, and also which elective courses they took that have proved most useful to them. The response was light — the school received 576 responses out of about 13,500 e-mails sent out — but the results are pretty interesting. A summary of the results can be found here, and the details are here.

The three most useful elective courses students took, according to the responses received:

1. Evidence – 156 respondents (27%)
2. Administrative Law – 120 respondents (21%)
3. Corporations – 105 respondents (18%)

There was less uniformity in the answers of what courses people wish they 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.

The study also pointed out several law school elective courses that were highly enrolled among students but that alumni did not often list as among the most useful:

. . . [V]ery popular courses taken during that same period were Criminal Procedure (555 students), Negotiation (532 students), Legal Drafting (424 students), Trusts and Estates (423 students), and International Law (330 students). For those courses, their utility, as judged by our respondents, included Criminal Procedure (35), Negotiation (34), Legal Drafting (37), Trusts & Estates (19), and International Law (14).

Thanks to my colleague Alan Morrison for the link.