TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Univ. School of Law

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

The First Day of Torts Class

Yesterday I taught the first Torts class of the year.  I always love starting it all over from the beginning and the promise of a fresh bunch of students.  On the first day, I cover:  1. what's a tort?  2.  what are the types of torts? and 3. why do we have torts?.  I would do this regardless of which casebook I was using.   How do others use the first day?  Also, this is the first time I am teaching a one-semester, four-credit course instead of a two-semester, five-credit course.  Thoughts on the differences?

--CJR  

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Because we teach torts in the first semester I first spend some time going over some of the basic skills I think the students need to work on. I talk about law school in general, what is expected of them, what they can expect to see happen in the classroom, etc. Then I talk about cases, how to read them and how to brief them. And, most importantly, I talk about the concept of an issue and how to identify it and state it correctly. I give them a short reading on this ahead of time. Then I go into the same things you mentioned (definition of a tort, the concept of liability, comparison with criminal liability, breach of contracts etc...).

We also teach the course in a one semester, 4 credit, format. I like it because I can plan and control the full course. Before we made the change we had a very weird system that did not make sense to me. I refused to teach what we used to call Torts I; only taught Torts II - but that is a long story. I was very glad when we made the change. Obviously, the issue with a 4 credit class is that you will have to make some choices as to what material to leave out.

Posted by: Alberto Bernabe | Aug 29, 2013 7:54:05 AM

As strange as it may sound for the first class of a first year class, I have a group issue spotting exercise using the following video. I find it an effective way to preview the entire class.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2011/aug/14/indiana-state-fair-stage-collapses-video

Posted by: Mike Koehler | Aug 29, 2013 5:03:34 PM

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