347 Schaeffer Hall
Fall 2020 Virtual Office Hours
Tue & Th: 4:45-6:15
Dept of Political Science
341 Schaeffer Hall
20 E. Washington Street
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242
Posted Fall 2020 course evaluations
Posted update with 2020 data for Iowa Voting Series Paper 1 (registration statistics)
Posted new book in What I'm Reading
Posted update with 2020 data for Iowa Voting Series Paper 10 (absentee days)
Posted 15 papers in Vinson Court Agenda Setting series
Posted updated Prelaw FAQ for UI students
Published updated and expanded edition of Prelaw Advisor in paperback and for Kindle readers
New book, Riding the Caucus Rollercoaster 2020, published in paperback and for Kindle readers.
New book, Supreme Court Agenda Setting: The Vinson Court, published for Kindle devices and computers with Kindle reader.
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Below are the written comments I've received the last few semesters for 30:106 (formerly 30:119). Each semester's comments are grouped together, with more recent comments at the top. I will reproduce the comments as accurately as possible. This will include spelling and grammar errors (but I won't mark them with [sic]). Any response or comment I have will be in italics following the student's comment. I only teach this course spring semesters.
[It appears that this website doesn't recognize the internal page links when I copied this material over from my old website. Until I figure out an alternative you'll have to just scroll down if you are interested in the comments from older semesters.]
Only one person in the class did the evaluation and that person didn't submit any written comments.
Professor Hagle is a tough instructor to deal with ONLY if you have not prepared yourself before class. He is well versed in political science and is an adept legal scholar. I've taken 3 of his courses and each has been more demanding than most of the courses I have taken at Iowa; I believe he has prepared me for my legal education more completely than any other professor, even though most of the work is put on the student to learn the material him/herself.
Thanks! The last line is interesting and reminds me of somthing I heard attributed to former New Youk City Mayor Ed Koch. In talking about the city's budget (or something) he apparently said, "I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you." Learning the material in my courses (or others for that matter) is essentially the same. I can explain it, but the student has to put in the work to learn it.
This course taught me so much, from navigating my way through the law library to learning how to read court summaries. Needless to say, I am much better at doing both now than I was at the beginning of the semester. All of Professor Hagle's expectations were clear from the beginning and I had no surprises going into the course. I would also like to mention that I am glad I got to be a part of this ongoing project of documenting Supreme Court appeals; it is a really important task. This is definitely a class that I would recommend to another student.
Thanks! I know from experience that learning how to get around a law library can be difficult. Even with the emphasis on digital resources, learning about reporters and how to interpret the materials can be challenging when starting law school. Having some experience with this before basically gives my students a head start on law school.
Great class, very glad I participated as I now feel more prepared for law school; particularly navigating the law library and conducting research using court reporters.
Great, and I'm glad you participated too!
Two things are worth noting before getting to the students' comments. The first is that I had a mild heart attack a couple of weeks into the semester, followed by heart surgery. I had to give up my other spring course, but kept this one. Although I was out of commission for a couple of weeks, the students were able to work on their own and I was able to keep in contact via email until I could get back in class. The second think is that after only getting one out of 14 students to fill out the evaluation for this course last year, I sent this group three reminder messages to fill out the evaluation. Six of 11 filled it out this year. That's better than I've gotten in some other courses, but still not good, especially for this course given that I often had 100% when we did them using hard copies in class.
Well put together system. Always available for questions and answers them thoroughly. Answers all questions respectfully. Given the circumstances of the semester, the amount of help available was praise worthy. Also, being thrown in at the start helped the mastery of the skills in certain ways.
Thanks! The "circumstances" refers to my being out because of heart surgery. Fortunately, and as I note above, I was able to answer questios via email until I could get back in class.
I'm really glad that I took this course. I feel that the skills I learned will help me as I go on to law school. The emphasis on close reading and understanding of the law processes has been invaluable.
Yes, one of my goals in this course (and my others for that matter) is to get students ready for law school. That includes the close reading as well as learning more about how cases are handled by courts.
I really enjoyed this class. One, it allowed me to get my hands on many Reporters and explore the Law Library, which will be really helpful for law school. Two, it was very interesting in that I was able to get a basic understanding of a wide range of cases. That gives me a little more insight into the types of law I might want to pursue in the future. Overall great class! Just make sure you stay on schedule!
Yes, one of the advantages of taking this course is that it provides an opportunity to learn the basics of legal research. This will be particularly helpful for those heading to law school. Knowing these basics will give students a headstart in their first weeks of a legal research or similar course.
Great at responding to questions in a timely manner.
My guess is that the student is referring asking me questions outside of class, usually via email. I encouraged students to send me questions if they were at the law library or elsewhere working on their cases. If I was near one of my computers I was usually able to respond pretty quickly.
Thank you so much for another amazing semester! I'm sad and sorry that I didn't fill out the class eval in enough time but wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your courses and learning from you! You were hands down my favorite professor I had at Iowa and found myself excited to attend your courses every day. Thank you for being an amazing instructor!
This comment was from a student who didn't do the online evaluation, as she notes, but sent me an email later. Overall she had four courses with me.
Best class I have ever taken in college. Hands down. If you are reading this, go take this course's syllabus and organizational outline and copy it for at least another 5 courses. It's 100% hand-on. I practiced my passion for 100 cases, all along the way learning valuable legal knowledge and skills. Hagle is the pinnacle of "knows his stuff front and back that any question you have he can answer". He was available day and night to answer questions. Otherwise, it was on us to learn the cases, code them, and communicate that to him. Using class to go over mistakes helped even more. Just a wonderfully insightful, useful, and all-around perfect course.
Thanks! My other judicial (prelaw) courses are more traditional, but in this one I'm able to guide the students through an actual set of cases and explain what is going on in them. That they have to apply the information they are learning really helps it to sink in during the semester.
I've learned more about the legal industry through this class than any others. The hands on approach taught us more in this class than all other pre-law type classes. In my opinion, every student who is pre-law here ought to take this class. Hagle is a phenomenal teacher, and even better person. I am so much better having taken done this research, it has astounded me that we had to practically beg for him to teach it this semester-- every poli sci student should be knocking down the door to get in this class.
Thanks! The "beg" part was that because the course has had low enrollments the last few years (for several reasons, one of which was the generally lower interest in law school), I was initially not going to be allowed to teach this course. The alternative course fell through, and several students were interested in this course, so I managed to get it on the schedule.
Thank you for a wonderful semester, Prof. Hagle. I think what I've learned this past semester will be invaluable next year at law school, so thank you for a great opportunity to get a little bit ahead :) Truly the work was fun after about the first 20-30 cases once I'd gotten a handle on how to code all the information. Got to read a lot of interesting cases, which has made me even more excited school in the Fall.
Thanks! Yes, the first 20-30 cases (of a set of 100 each student is assigned) are difficult until one gets a handle on all the information and what to do with it. After that it's a matter of settling in and learning about all the different types of cases that can be part of a person's assignment. Students who have had this course in the past have said it really gave them a head start on law school. I trust it will for this student as well.
As usual, great class. This is my fourth class I've taken with Professor Hagle and continue to find his material to be the most applicable to my professional career of any other class offered through the Political Science Department. Continue the great work.
Thanks, I'll certainly try to do so!
I [a heart] HAGLE (all in big block letters)
Cool to be looking at function of legal system. Thumbs up.
Yes, one aspect of this course is to dig deeper into a wide variety of cases and see how they get to the Supreme Court.
Recommendation: During the initial training review where each field is found more clearly. It took me a long time to understand which books had what information.
Other than that, great class!
The training manual/codebook has this information but the problem is matching up the various books with what they are called. Basically, the students need to get their feet wet, so to speak, before really understanding which books are which. Still, I can probably emphasize this a bit more.
I'm starting this semester's written comments with a few words about the class itself. Because my Fall 2013 courses were changed with little notice, I did not teach the usual courses that act as feeder courses for this research course. That explains the very low enrollment. In addition, because the enrollment was so low I was not able to adhere to the usual prerequisites for the course. That meant that two of the eight people in the course really weren't prepared for the course material. That caused a few problems in terms of getting those students up to speed, which I think is reflected in a few of the responses in on the questionnaire portion of the evaluations.
I strongly enjoyed this class. Professor Hagle was always there when I needed help with something. I definitely look forward to helping in the future.
Great! Glad you enjoyed the class!
-- Make a PDF of the codebook. I feel it would save a lot of time.
-- On the database computer portion, have all the cases completed there instead of the previous 10.
The students for this course have a codebook that they must quickly master before beginning actual work on the database project that is the essence of the course. This isn't the first student to request that it be put online in some form. (See below.) I'm still resisting because I think it is a good exercise for them to know the codebook so thoroughly that they can find information they are looking for without resorting to a search function. More and more legal resources are available online, but not everything is so it's still worth knowing how to look things up in a hard copy.
The second recommendation refers to the way we process the cases that the students have completed. Their initial assignment is usually 100 cases placed in an individual database file for them. Completed cases are removed from their file and placed in the master file for that term of the Supreme Court's cases. Although it might occasionally be helpful to have prior cases the student worked on still available, to keep track of which cases are completed and have not been altered (mistakenly or otherwise) I need to remove them once they are given a final check by me. If a student is just interested in seeing how to code something I create an example file that contains three terms of cases that the students can use to search for particular file entries.
This is the best course I ever had.
Glad you liked it!
Without a doubt, this has been the best class I have ever taken at the University of Iowa. Not only did I learn a ton of new information in regards to the judicial process, but the format of the class was unique and well organized. This format rewards hard work and total number of hours invested in the total course, not just how many hours you have to cram before an exam, or how well you write under pressure.
The word on the street is that this may be the last semester this class is offered. That would be a travesty. I have told all my fellow poli-sci friends to keep their eyes pealed for this class, and encouraged them all to take it.
Seriously kick-a** course.
Thanks! There's a lot to be learned in this class (beyond what students should have retained from their other course(s) with me) but it still focuses on doing the work. Like a job, the work has to be done right, not just up to some level that a student is willing to put in for a particular grade. Experiencing that now will help for law school and later in a job.
Yes, there's been some question about my being able to offer this course in the future. Fortunately the prior DEO of the department who hated this course has left. Nevertheless, for the last couple of years the enrollment of this course has been right at the bare minimum. There's been an increased push to increase enrollments (i.e., "butts in seats"), so things could still be iffy. We'll see.
This class was very beneficial. I recently got a job offer for this summer to work under a paralegal at a firm and I know a good reason for it was this class. Thanks!
Great! Not surprisingly, undergrads have trouble competing with law school students for internships and related positions. The focus on legal research in this course really helps to give the students a leg up for such jobs. Of course, the real value is to give the students a head start for when they start law school.
1. This course was excellent. Unlike any other I have taken. I found myself, much to my surprise, enjoying working on the cases. No doubt the experience will be helpful next year when I am at [law school].
2. DITIGAL CODEBOOK: The ability to "ctrl-f" [search] for issue codes would be invaluable. At the very least it would be nice to have access to cases you have already completed in case you come across similar topics.
On the first point, one point of this course, unlike most others, is that the work has a particular and immediate value aside from what the students are learning. In other words, it's not just a matter of learning material for a test that may or may not be specifically useful later. In this course the students are working on a database that will be used in research projects and they can see the progress they are making. For many students, including this one, that helps to make the work more interesting.
I have to chuckle about the second point. I fully understand the desire here and it's not the first time a student has expressed it. It's certainly true that making a digital copy would make it easier to search for specific items, but I still think that there's value in forcing students to know the codebook so well that they know where they should be looking for particular items. Still, I seem to be moving to digital coursepacks in my other courses, so this one may not be far behind.
Throughout the classes, Prof. Hagle has done a nice job of providing a well-rounded understanding of the material and his expectations. I have no doubt that he has helped me prepare for my future, and this class was the cherry on top!
All the students in this course must have had one of my other courses. Several students this semester had two of my other courses, and it sounds like this student was one of them. Either way, I naturally try to make my courses a good experience in terms of the material, etc., but, of course, the main goal is to get students ready for the future--whether that's law school, a job, or something else.
Hope it works for me, too!
Darn, I think I knew the context of this comment at the time, but it escapes me now. My best guess is that this student was referring to a comment I showed the class from a former student who said how much this course had helped during his first year of law school.
I think the example files did not have as wide a range of cases as my file. Other years or sets of cases may be more helpful.
Students in this course are assigned a set of 100 cases filed before the Supreme Court. I provide example files of prior terms of the cases. Although these files currently contain over 1500 cases each, there's no guarantee that any term will contain a type of case that a student will run across in his or her set. Providing additional example files is easy to do.
I felt that I learned the most when we went over the example case because it showed where and how to do the cases. Maybe for the third week before cases you could go over more example cases.
Yes, I have three example cases prepared, but usually only go over one in detail during class. I usually don't get to the other two because of time considerations, but I can try to make sure to do at least one more before students get their assignments.
I very much enjoyed this class - even just having a reason to go to the law library and touch/read the books was neat. I can see how this class will really benefit me in the future in law school. Although not as exciting as Con Law [my 30:116/POLI: 3101] both classes are/have made me a much stronger student.
Great! As I tell the students, learning the material in this class will give them a running start on their first year of law school. That, in turn, should make their first year experience more rewarding.
Class does better than others with attention to detail.
Yes, one of the things I stress in the course is attention to detail, which is important for legal work.
I thought the class was super interesting and a great challenge. Unlike many other courses, it allowed me to have a sense of accomplishment when turning work in each week. It is a little hard to know how you're doing/where you're at compared to others, but overall a great course!
The "hard to know how you're doing" bit is because the grading isn't based on tests or papers. Instead, students get feedback on their weekly assignments. The structure is intended to be something along the lines of what one would face on a job.
[The student marked "a bit too much" for question 13 on the multiple choice section then wrote the following.] Only because it [took?] much more time than expected when I registered for class--about 6 hours for 10 cases after becoming "proficient."
How much time the weekly assignment of 10 cases took would vary based on how quickly a student worked and the luck of the draw as far as how difficult the cases were. Six hours seems like a bit much after a student got the hang of it, but you never know.
This class/(all your classes) are very difficult which I enjoy because they make you actually have to put in alot of time to do well and can't just rely on natural talents. I learned alot of things useful in this class for law school and even the LSAT, like being able to pinpoint the main point of an issue. Thanks [The student signed his name to this comment.]
I certainly want to challenge the students in the class. Even those who pick up the details quickly still have to work hard to make sure that the coding and data entry are done correctly.
Coursepack did a good job of providing the basic information. The first couple of classes after doing some cases were very helpful since we did some cases and would have questions outside the coursepack. Overall, it was fairly simple to do most [of] the cases after 20-30 cases. Good class and a good introduction to the law library.
I put lots of info in the coursepack/training manual, but this student is correct in that it can't contain everything. Once the students have had a look at their first cases they have a much better idea of what questions they should be asking in class.
I think the class has been extremely helpful! I feel prepared for law school research and even legal research later in life.
I enjoyed this class and was very happy to be able to apply my knowledge from your other courses. The ability to apply other knowledge solidifies how much I learned--it is a good feeling!
Thank you for the opportunities!
Great! You are certainly welcome!
A helpful course for those interested in law.
I appreciate the level of patience you exercised throughout the course. It takes a while to get the hang of the coding system, but you never seemed frustrated by the sometimes stupid mistakes I made. Thanks!
This student actually signed the written comments. There's sometimes a bit of goofiness to a person's coding, but it is a pretty complicated system and I know it often takes a while to get the hang of it.
Electronic guide to issue codes would be extremely helpful. Online list could be searched by term with (Ctrl-F) function and would make coding easier.
One student asked about this in class during the semester. I thought about it and decided against (at least for now). Although it would be easier to just do electronic searches part of the value of the course is to have the students become familiar with a fairly complex set of codes. Just doing word searches might not always achieve the understanding that I want them to have from knowing what the terms mean. As I tell them at the start of the semester, this is also an exercise in absorbing a large amount of material very quickly and then being able to use it--which is often what happens in a job situation (particularly legal jobs).
Not a class for anyone who isn't prepared to work hard, but I ended up enjoying it. Tough first week, but it gets much easier. Great preparation for anyone going to law school.
Yep. I tell folks right up front that it's a lot of work, especially at the start when there's a pretty steep learning curve. It eases off toward the end when folks are getting a good handle on the cases, coding, etc. I usually get emails from one or two students a year who are a couple of weeks into their first semester of law school and let me know that this course was really good preparation for them, particularly for their first year research course.
At first, I took the class just for the credit, but I ended up really enjoying the class. I liked it the most out of all the classes you teach.
I really enjoyed this course--actually more than I thought I would. For someone preparing for law school this was very beneficial.
Again, great! I know it's a lot of work, especially at the start, so I'm glad that folks recognize the value in what we do in the course.
Stop wearing white shoes with black pants. They CLASH!!
Okay, look, I may not be the most fashion conscious professor, but they were black jeans with white tennis shoes. Is that so bad?
Quit wearing white shoes with black pants.
Again? C'mon, I couldn't have done it more than three or four times during the semester. (At least the shirt was different every time.)
Quit wearing white shoes with black pants.
Course was very useful for students thinking about law school - learned a lot about law library and basics of cases in the judicial system
for one of the class periods I would actually take us to the library and go through a case so we are not so incredibly stumped at first
I used to take the class to the law library to show folks where the various books were located. The law library wasn't overly welcoming about allowing us space to meet and we didn't have access to a computer and internet resources, so I stopped doing it. The being stumped part isn't really related to the location of the books. It's more a matter of just understanding all the material. We go through three sample cases in class, but the first time with an actual cases is always going to be tough, which I tell the students to expect.
The primary reason I took this class was to prepare me for law school next fall (in regards to learning how to navigate a law library & learning how to research) and I'm very appreciative that I did learn a great deal & feel I'm a bit more prepared for one aspect of law school
It would more beneficial I think, if we did our first 3 cases in the 1st or 2nd week because it is too hard to comprehend what each field means w/ out actually going through the motions & understanding first-hand.
We go through examples for every field and then do three complete sample cases that show where to find and how to code all the fields. It would be more of a problem if the students were all working on their individual cases before they were completely trained.
I'm sure I received some written comments for this semester, but I think I packed them away when I left to work in the Department of Justice and I don't recall where. I'll post them when I find them.
This course takes a lot of time but its worth the experience.
Lobby for the Schaffer lab to be open past 12:30 on Friday. That was a major inconvenience.
Yes, this course can take a lot of time, though it should go faster as the semester progresses and folks get a better handle on what needs to be done, where to find info, etc.
I also agree that the hours of the Pol Sci lab sometimes made it difficult to pass assignments back and forth. Given budget constraints, it may just be one of those things that we have to continue to work around.
Hagle delendus est!
--fun class, but lots of work
My Latin was limited to the law school variety, but this apparently translates to "Hagle must be destroyed!" Yikes.
Maybe suggest using the brown indexs for finding cases in the L Ed's. (Located next to them in the law library.)
Otherwise, great preparation for law school.
There are a lot of indices and digests that can be used to find cases, but we really shouldn't need to use them for this course, particularly now that LEXIS is available to all students. I think part of the problem (such as it is) here is that several of my students this semester asked the reference librarians for help. Those folks tended to head for the indices and digests because they didn't know exactly what my students were trying to do or what they had been taught. That put my students in the position of trying to figure out how to use sources that I hadn't shown them in class. At a minimum, I think I should talk more about this next time.
I can't say you didn't warn us, because you did, but I struggled more in this class than I thought I would. It was hard because no matter how much I read the coursepack, I never felt comfortable with my work & I always thought I was disappointing as a student. So, I guess this isn't so much a comment/recommendation on the class as it is insight into how some of the students feel. Overall, the class was very worthwhile/challenging and taught very well.
It's certainly true that some folks pick up what's going on in the course faster than others. It's also true that the coursepack is packed with information and one had to read it several times to pick up the various bits of information that one might need. Still, the point is that the law is very detail-oriented and one of my goals for this course is to get students some experience working with this type of material. Most recognize the value of the experience, but it can be a struggle.
This class was fun. Though it took me awhile, I think I learned how to do things that will be useful in my future plans.
Again, that's the goal as most in the course plan on law school and familiarity with the source materials we used will be very helpful.
One thing I would encourage is not to rely too heavily on the instruction manual right away. If you just jump right into it w/out knowing what's going on it can be very overwhelming and confusing.
That's true enough, but the problem is that there is so much material that needs to be covered right away that we can't delay very long before getting into the specifics. I require that students in this course have had at least one of my other courses so that they come into this course with a fair amount of background knowledge. Even so, there's no doubt that there's a lot to learn right away--and I let the students know about this up front.
The lab in this building sucks! The number one problem w/the course was that I could never be in the lab because it was closed, or open, but only for grad students!!!
That this was a problem for this student surprises me. The lab hours were posted and I had not heard that there was a problem in the lab being open scheduled hours. Even if there were problems, students could use any other computer lab on campus to enter the data in their files.
[There were hardly any comments the previous two semesters, so I pushed them a bit to write something this semester.]
I just want to know why you come across as a jerk in Con Law, but you really are a nice guy. I almost didn't take this course b/c of it, but I knew the class would be beneficial to me.
Continue to nag so people turn in cases b/c it is so easy to get behind.
Is there any way to set up a system for using the USLW, there was nothing more frustrating then walking over to the library & not finding it.
Another thing that sucked was having to be on campus to type the info in. Is there any way we could accessit through the internet? Maybe a class webpage w/ a link to the file, is that possible?
Good luck w/ the rest of the project.
I suspect the jerk/nice guy dichotomy is largely a result of the nature and structure of the two classes. This one is much smaller and "hands on" where 30:116 is bigger and more structured.
The USLW comment refers to a set of books in the law library that all the students have to use. It would be nice to put it on reserve, but there is only one set and law students have to use them too. This can present some difficulty for those who, as this student suggests, hike over to the law library only to discover that the volume they want is missing.
There are probably ways to set up the files for the internet, but I don't know the specifics and it would tend to introduce even more computer problems than we already have. Still, it's something I'll keep in mind.
I think this class was really helpful in making me familiar with the law library. As a future law student, many of the skills I learned in this class will help me in my first year.
I'm sure they will--and that's one of the main goals of the course.
I really enjoyed the class. Aside from Con Law, this was the second most challenging class I've taken in my four years here. I really wish more professors pushed their students like you have done. I think you did a good job of not making this project overwhelming for us. I wish I was around next semester to continue the project. I really enjoyed doing the research for you. You really are one of the best profs I've had. Good job! :)
You need to get signed up for Westlaw -- it will make your job much easier -- it's a good way to track the history of the cases you are looking at. I had planned to ask about the purpose of this research project but you explained it tonight--maybe address at beginning of semester next time.
The law school previously wouldn't allow me access to LEXIS, but now the entire U has it so I will likely work it into the course.
Professor Hagle did an excellent job at explaining some very complex information.
Professor Hagle is an excellent teacher (who is also very difficult) but he forces his students to learn.
This is probably truer in this course than my others. The students work on a research project, so they can't just not do the work. That causes me to nag and cajole them even more than in my other courses!
The most I've work of any class in college. Also one of the best classes. Interesting & challenging. One thing I would recommend (this is small) would be giving a takehome quiz the first week so people really get down the course pack.
I've thought about a quiz, but there's so much material that it seems better to just try to get folks to absorb it in stages. Still, it's often clear who has read the coursepack when the first cases are turned in.
Found the class quite challenging; a bit too much at times. While Prof. H is willing to answer questions and helpful most of the time, he needs to remember he has a bit more experience doing this compared to the rest of us. Be patient!
That's true enough, but it's sometimes hard to be patient when some folks are still asking questions about basic information or things that we've covered five or six times already.
Overall, I thought that the course did a good job of preparing me for some of the basics of law school, e.g. knowledge of the library, terms, research skills. However, there are a couple of areas that I thought made the course a raw(?). First, entering the data into the Access file seemed like a useless waste of time for me. I had already done the research and coded the material, so this taught me nothing else. I felt like I should have been getting paid for this work. Secondly, and most importantly, somehow other members of the class must be made to realize how important it is to reshelve the volume of the USLW that is being used. I ended up getting behind in the class b/c on many occasions I could not locate this volume and thus could get no work done.
On the first point, having the students enter the data they've collected is part of the research process. Aside from some basic skills with the database program, it should teach them attention to detail and give them more appreciation for the "grunt" work that's part of the process. On the second point, I emphasize as much as I can that folks need to put the books back so others have access to them. Even so, sometimes they go missing. I don't know whether it's folks from this course or law students, but there's not much to be done about it given the law library's unwillingness to put them on reserve for me.
In addition to the questions I ask for the evaluation, I encourage students to provide written comments. Unfortunately, no one made written comments this year. Not all the students showed up to do the evaluations and I suspect most didn't want to hang around to write something. Oh well.
I learned a lot from this class. I feel better prepared for law school and I also think reading the cases improved my reading comprehension skills for the LSAT. The listserv email also worked well and kept everyone informed.
Yes, reading the cases summaries and opinions for this research really exposes students to legal writing. Although I have students read cases in my other courses, those cases are usually edited. For this course they were reading the original materials and had to sort through some often complex or even incomprehensible legal jargon.