My primary teaching interests are Legislation, Constitutional Law, Jurisprudence, Civil Procedure, and Administrative Law. My secondary teaching interests include Evidence, Federal Courts, Criminal Law, and Professional Responsibility.
On this page, you can learn more about my approach to teaching and the different courses that I've taught. You can also find a summary of my past teaching evaluations and download the full evaluations.
Legal Research and Writing, Harvard Law School, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023 & Spring 2024
This course teaches the fundamental skills of researching and writing as a lawyer. Students learn these skills through readings, in-class discussion and exercises, one-on-one meetings with me, drafting memos and an appellate brief, and participating in an oral argument.
Introduction to Philosophy (assisting Shaun Nichols), Cornell University, Spring 2021
This course surveyed topics in philosophy, including knowledge and skepticism, the mind-body problem, the nature of the self, normative ethics, and free will and moral responsibility. Students encountered a breadth of material, ranging from traditional readings in philosophy to contemporary experimental work. I led a weekly discussion section and graded students' written work.
Moral Dilemmas in the Law (assisting Andrei Marmor), Cornell University, Fall 2019 & Fall 2020
This course applied ideas from moral philosophy to legal contexts. We considered questions like: When is the state justified in punishing offenders? When is self-defense justified? When is discrimination wrongful? And what is the right to privacy and why does it matter? Readings included both legal cases and philosophical commentary. I led a biweekly discussion section and graded students' written work.
Introduction to Ethics (assisting Julia Markovits), Cornell University, Spring 2020
This course introduced students to classic and contemporary work on ethics. We discussed issues in metaethics (the meaning of moral language and whether morality is, in any sense, objective), normative ethics (consequentialist versus deontological ethics), and moral character (praiseworthiness and moral luck). I led a weekly discussion section and graded students' written work.
I'm deeply committed to teaching my students and helping them advance in their careers, and I've been rewarded with consistently positive teaching evaluations. You can find the full teaching evaluations for every course that I’ve taught here.
The bullet points below aggregate the numerical evaluations that I've received thus far for teaching Legal Research and Writing (1= Not effective, 5=very effective):
- Ability to present material clearly: 4.86
- Ability to respond to questions in class: 4.87
- Level of preparation for class: 4.97
- OVERALL teaching effectiveness: 4.85
Keep reading to see specific comments that students have made about my teaching.
"Bill was an incredibly useful mentor and teacher. He gave thoughtful, in-depth, and over and beyond feedback on my memo. He came prepared to every conference."
"[Bill] had a wonderful command of the classroom and mixed technical and real-world knowledge. He was also very approachable both during and outside of class."
"Bill gave incredibly clear feedback. The conferences made it abundantly clear that he really cared about each student’s work and gave thoughtful, tailored feedback."
"I appreciate both his skill as a teacher and empathy as a person. I felt very comfortable going to him with questions and ideas. Thank you Bill for making LRW one of my favorite classes of the semester!"
"Bill is very approachable and responsive to student questions, answering them clearly and specifically. He also encourages us to think critically and do our own thinking/research."
"Bill always gave very clear, constructive suggestions on how to improve my writing. He also made sure to check in with us to see how we were doing emotionally/in life (outside of LRW), which made me feel respected."
“Bill is easily the best TA I’ve ever had at Cornell. I would gladly take any class if he was the TA for it. He gives great feedback and provides a thorough answer to every question asked, and it is clear that he has a grasp on all of the concepts we discuss.”
“Bill’s sections helped clear up this confusion [about the course material] 100%. He broke down every concept for us and created an environment where we could ask any questions with little pressure. He is the most helpful TA I have ever met in my undergraduate career.”
“I found myself more open to the idea of, as well as in need of, outside help from a person like Bill. Bill has exceeded my expectations with regards to his wealth of knowledge relating to the subject matter, in addition to his capacity to provide useful and constructive help.”
“I appreciated Bill’s genuine interest in helping students to understand the material and learn how to improve their writing…. The edits he made and the time he took to meet with me was very valuable to [me] in both learning the material and finding passion in this subject.”
“It was a pleasure having Bill Watson as a TA! He is a genuinely good scholar who cares a lot about the success of his students. He was always able to meet with me when I needed to look at our assignments or talk about something I didn’t understand.”
“Bill Watson is the best TA I’ve ever had in my life .... He explains things so well and doesn’t move on until students really understand the subject matter. He goes out of his way to help students (i.e. his office hours are very flexible, answers emails promptly, etc.) and is really fair with grading.”