Law, Liberty, and Morality

Dec 2013

I'm a philosophy major and found this class philosophically rigorous and interesting. Yes, most of the readings are dry, but what do you expect out of a law class. The first portion of the course is devoted to learning jurisprudence, building up the different legal frameworks which we will go on to apply to landmark cases like Roe v. Wade and U.S. v. Windsor. There is a lot of grunt work involved up until this point, but in the end you are equipped with the resources to analyze and critique the cases in an informed way. Trust me, it is a rewarding process. Professor Mendelson knows her stuff, and I only have the deepest respect for her. She is always available for her students, and it is clear that she really cares about the material. Speaking of which, I find it refreshing that she is not shy about her personal opinions. In classes dealing with political issues, I think it is more pedagogically effective if the professor is transparent about where she stands. And she emphasized over and over again that our grades and her respect for us were not affected by whether we agreed with her. For the sake of full disclosure, I am pre-law, but I would recommend this class to anyone who is interested in learning about the topography of our legal landscape. Scratch that, I would prescribe this class to anyone who is interested in becoming an informed citizen of the United States.

Feb 2011

If you're a philosophy major who does not intend to go to law school -- do not take this class. If you are interested in going to law school, then this is the closest thing you'll get to a pre-law class. The first half of the semester is devoted to legal philosophy and concepts and the second half of the semester is devoted to specific cases, rulings, etc. There was a lot of potential to weave the two halves together conceptually, but it never happened. A lot of class time was spent just going over the readings, though there was some room for discussion. We discussed "law" quite often, but not "liberty" or "morality" as much. Not entirely sure why this is listed as a philosophy class, as one really does NOT need to have taken any philosophy classes in order to understand the material and do well. However, if you're looking for a fascinating treatment of the various issues surrounding legal theory, you're not going to find it. Philosophically, a really boring class (especially the second half). The readings are very dry. However if you like reading cases and are interesting in going to law school, then it's probably worth it. Some people really liked the class, but most people did not enjoy it. Professor Review: Professor Mendelson is a really nice person, really funny, and very easy to get in touch with. She spent time with everyone going over their final paper prospectuses (?) and really helped us develop our topics. She's good at leading class discussions (when they occurred); however, most of the time was spent just reviewing the readings due for that class. I can't decide whether she or the material is what made the class so boring. If you do not like it when your professor injects his or her political views into lecture, then avoid this class. TA Review: Yoshi is approachable, responds to e-mails quickly, and is willing to respond to student concerns. His comments on the draft for my final paper were extremely helpful. Overall, a good TA. It's worth mentioning he's really attractive because otherwise sitting through this class was like watching paint dry.