Freedom of Choice

Every school offers tax law, wills, criminal procedure.  If it didn't offer these "Bar Exam" subjects, it would lose its accreditation in short order. But what about the "non-Bar subjects," as one school called them?  Does the school offer comparative law, immigration law, AIDS law?  And more importantly, if it does, what are your chances of getting into the class?  Many of you have learned as undergrads that if a school offers exactly as many seats as it needs, you often don't get your first -- or even second -- choice of classes.  

In order to guarantee that students have a reasonable chance of getting what they want, there have to be quite a few extra seats.  How many?  I don't know, but I arbitrarily picked a number of 1.5 seats per student taking electives per class.  (If you really care what that means, click here.)  

Since the ABA data  on which I based this calculation gave separate figures for clinical and simulation courses, and since applicants are constantly asking me about litigation specialties, I calculated litigation seats separately from seminar seats, as well as the combined total.  As usual, I did a lot of math that hardly anybody cares about, and stuck it in a separate file, so that the three other people in the U.S. who do care can review it.  I made a lot of assumptions, assigned a lot of definitions, and crunched a lot of numbers.  And here are the Top 25 law schools for course selection in three categories.


Simulation and
Clinical Classes
Small Lectures
and Seminars
Total Non-Core
1 Baylor Whittier Baylor
2 Mercer Mercer Mercer
3 SUNY Buffalo J. Marshall (GA) J. Marshall (GA)
4 Pepperdine SUNY Buffalo SUNY Buffalo
5 J. Marshall (GA) Toledo Whittier
6 Cal. Western Baylor William & Mary
7 William & Mary St. Thomas (MN) Toledo
8 Maryland Wisconsin Maryland
9 Illinois William & Mary Wisconsin
10 Wake Forest Arizona Case Western
11 North Carolina Case Western Franklin Pierce
12 Nova Southeastern Hawaii Pepperdine
13 Akron Creighton Illinois
14 Idaho Franklin Pierce St. Thomas (MN)
15 Brigham Young Nevada Arizona
16 Southern Illinois Maryland Wake Forest
17 Valparaiso George Mason Tennessee
18 Wash. U. (St. Louis) Tennessee Creighton
19 Wisconsin Ohio Northern Akron
20 William Mitchell Golden Gate Penn State
21 Franklin Pierce Campbell Hamline
22 Case Western North Dakota Cal. Western
23 UC Davis Penn State Hawaii
24 Penn State Stanford Golden Gate
25 Hamline Hamline Stanford

As is usual when I put up a chart like this, I expect that a lot of people will disagree, because the results aren't what you expected. But here's all the background you need to understand how I got these results.  You can also click here to see the results for all law schools, in alphabetical order.

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