Litigation and General Practice Areas

Professor Robert Mosteller

My view about selecting courses for those interested in litigation is that the task is relatively simple. Take Evidence, Trial Practice, and Appellate Practice. Evidence probably is best taken in the fall semester of the second year since it is a prerequisite to Trial Practice, which is sometimes a prerequisite to other litigation courses. Beyond that list, nothing is clearly indicated. Clinics may be helpful to you, but they should probably be selected because of your interest in the subject matter covered rather than as general preparation for litigation. Of course, some of the clinics have a natural connection to certain litigation fields. For example, if you wish to work in criminal litigation, the Criminal Clinic and Death Penalty Clinic are naturals, but no need to take them both.

My general view about course selection is that for any set of interests, there are a relatively small list of rather obvious courses to take in our curriculum. Beyond those, one should generally take courses that give exposure to faculty who have distinctive and interesting perspectives on the law. Specific subject matter that one learns becomes outdated or is quickly superseded by the expertise one gains in law practice in what are often relatively narrow specialties. However, perspectives on how to analyze the law that one gets from some faculty members will be of help throughout a law career. Law school is the last chance most lawyers have to "stretch" their minds. It should be used to good advantage.