I only got one piece of advice before law school that ended up being worth a damn.
"Find the best professors ... and take their classes."
Credit to Ben Wizner of the ACLU. Ben & I lived in the same dorm in college and I randomly ran into him at a party in LA shortly before going to UCLA. That was his advice. He was right.
(Confidential to everyone but Ben: your advice sucked.)
The reason this advice works is simple. First, a great professor will make you love their topic. Even if you thought you hated it before. Second, it doesn't matter what classes you take in law school. So you might as well take the best ones.
The corollary to Ben's advice is that you need to bypass the bar courses that you might be taking out of a sense of obligation. That is a terrible use of your time & your tuition dollar, unless the course happens to be taught by one of the A-list professors. You need to save your credits for the good shit. Leave the rest for Bar/Bri.
How do you find the best professors? That's trickier than you think. I've investigated our teaching evaluations pretty thoroughly. Even professors I know to be miserable bastards get pretty decent reviews. Which shows that a) personal taste varies or b) a lot of people didn't show up to class except for evaluation day.
What you're looking for is two things. One is consistency. If everyone likes a prof, chances are you will too. If opinion is divided, that's a risky proposition. Two is raves. Not just good reviews. You want insane reactions, e.g. people scrawling on their eval sheets in two-inch letters "BEST COURSE AT UCLA!!!" over and over again. I saw that a couple times. I took those courses.
Be careful though: great profs are not necessarily great in every class they teach. Make sure you are taking their "crown jewel", the course they're known for, not some random seminar that they concocted during a Robitussin-induced daydream.
Oh, and take Evidence. No, really. You need it.
16 Mar 07