1L Experience: Curses! It’s course selection!


It’s time for course selection! And boy, am I excited! Of course, before I can begin to choose my courses, I need to carefully read all of the materials they’ve given us. Let’s see… there’s the purple book that lists the courses alphabetically by course name, the green book that talks about the visiting professors and lists their courses alphabetically by professor name, the other purple book that groups the courses into categories and discusses each of them, but in different words than the first purple book, the pamphlet — a lighter green than the green book — that groups the courses into a different set of categories but doesn’t really discuss them, and, finally, the white and red book about clinicals – oh, wait, there’s a second red and white book inside the first book (sneaky!) — that only talks about some courses, and repeats only a selection of the instructions from the purple book.

Okay, twenty-seven hours later. I’ve read all the books. Am I ready to choose courses? Nope, not yet. Page vii of the purple book: “Detailed information on the requirements of the J.D. Degree may be found on pp. 202-205 of the 2002-03 Catalog.” Okay, so I have to read that too. Page ix: “Maximum and minimum credit requirements are set out in the Catalog….” No page reference. Gotta read the whole book.

Twelve hours later. Okay, ready to choose courses? Nope. Page x: “This is a brief introduction to cross-registration. Review all cross-registration information in the HLS Catalog and in the Cross-Registration Memorandum, Calendar, and How to Complete the Cross-Registration Petition, all available at:

http://www.law.harvard.edu/Administrative_Services/Registrar/.” Good thing I read the seventeen books the office of information technology gave out at orientation and so I’ve got a working Internet connection.

Two hours later. Now? Not yet. Page xi: “On September 12, 1975, the Dean prepared a statement about the student-faculty consultation with respect to the written work requirement. This statement is available in the Registrar’s Office and second-year, third-year, and graduate students should familiarize themselves with it.” Damn, it’s the weekend. Registrar’s office isn’t open.

Monday morning. Okay, read the statement. Can I please choose courses now? Well, maybe. What do I want to take in the fall? Well, I hear Prof. Tribe is great. So I’ll sign up for his bundle. He teaches in the spring. And that would mean my Tax course would be in the fall, timeslot G. And I really want to take bankruptcy. And that’s in timeslot… G. Okay, well, everyone says Admin Law is a good class to take. Timeslot G. Copyright sounds interesting. It’s in timeslot G. Entertainment, Media, and the Law? Yep, G. I really hear good things about Tribe. So maybe I should sign up for his fall course too. Constitution at War. But that probably requires Con Law first. Yeah. And besides, it’s in timeslot G. How about International Law? Timeslot C! Finally! Let me just check the bundle again… when’s the corporations course? Oh, it’s timeslot C. Uhh… perfect. Maybe I’ll sign up for Comparative Law. Because there’s no C or G in its timeslot, TBA.

How about a clinical? Better read the procedures and rules. Page 5 of the white and red booklet where the red stripe is above the gray stripe (as distinguished from the companion booklet, where the gray stripe is above the red stripe): “In addition to this booklet, the Preliminary Registration Bulletin, the Law School Catalog and the HLS Adviser contain important information about the clinical program.” The Adviser? More reading! And I can’t be the only person just a little bit bothered by the lack of consistency between these booklets regarding the use of the serial comma. The purple book? Serial commas all over the place. The clinical book? Nowhere to be found. Maybe someone forgot to read the Dean’s statement from July 14, 1854 regarding the use of the serial comma in registration materials.

Okay, courses chosen. Time to fill out the worksheet on the last page of the purple book. “J.D. students are advised to list all 31 course choices to maximize their chances for a full schedule.” Thirty-one? Wow. The first thirty I’m excited about, but if I get my thirty-first choice, I’m really screwed. I know it sounds fascinating — Policy Issues in Tax System Redesign Reading Group — but still, it does conflict with my twenty-eighth choice, Trade and Competition: Irrevocable Objectives in the Context of Developing Societies Seminar, so I don’t know what I’d do.

Actually, I may just need to wait. Page v of the purple book: “Since changes sometimes occur over the summer, students should review… the 2003-2004 Catalog, as well as the updated information in the fall Registration Adviser.” More reading! Yippee!

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