Every 1L student in law school has to take a course on Civil Procedure. And many say it’s dense and complicated, and, for some students, even boring—unless it happens to be taught by UC Hastings Professor Scott Dodson.
Dodson, who was the 2022 winner of the Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching at UC Hastings College of the Law, was praised by his students for making Civil Procedure and other classes he taught accessible and enjoyable. “He taught us more than just the basics,” said Jenny Bagger ’22, who spoke on Dodson’s behalf at the awards ceremony. “He also cares about his students and is eager to help them in their endeavors.”
The Rutter Award is given out each year at Hastings to the professor who is chosen for teaching excellence by a committee that includes a student, alumni member, Provost & Academic Dean, and the faculty member who won the award previously.
Dodson, who joined the UC Hastings faculty in 2012, is the James Edgar Hervey Chair in Litigation and the Geoffrey C. Hazard Jr. Distinguished Professor. He also serves as the Director of the Center for Litigation and Courts and previously served as the law school’s research dean. He is widely published nationally and regularly has his scholarship published in top law journals.
Prof. Manoj Viswanathan, last year’s Rutter Award winner, said that Dodson cares deeply both about teaching and scholarship, “He takes what I consider to be a dry subject and makes it fun and engaging.”
Provost Morris Ratner read out excerpts of Dodson’s student evaluations at the ceremony, “He is incredibly responsive to students and enthusiastic teaching the material.” Another said, “He answers questions and makes sure the class understands.” Also, “The presentation and delivery of material is engaging.” And finally, “I always felt supported by Professor Dodson. I felt like he wants us all to succeed.”
Former student Jacob Hirsch ’18 recalled that when he was a first year student at Hastings, Dodson gave an open invitation to students to attend not just Shabbat dinner at his home, but to come to Thanksgiving dinner if their homes were far away or had no where else to go. “He is dedicated to connecting with his students and making them feel seen,” Hirsch said.
Dodson, who modestly accepted the teaching award, thanked the students and faculty and said he is committed to growing and adapting to become a better teacher. Addressing his students past and present, he said, “It’s so fun to be in the classroom with you.”
Founded by law-guide publisher William Rutter in 1979, the award honors outstanding professors at California’s top law schools. The Rutter Endowment provides UC Hastings an annual award of $10,000 for its winner.