This week, we feature Matthew C. Cordon, Director of Legal Writing Center and Professor of Law at Baylor Law School. He is the co-author of Researching Texas Law (3d ed. 2012).
I am a failed sports writer.
When I left for college at the age of 18, I knew I wanted to continue to play sports, and I knew that one day I wanted to become a sports writer. My (small-school) collegiate football career, however, ended uninterestingly after one year, and my tennis career was not much better. I eventually turned my attention to becoming a journalist, and thankfully a small newspaper in Missouri hired me as its sports editor. So I indeed became a sports writer.
But I hated it. My stories about football games soon started to sound the same. My basketball stories were worse. My baseball stories cured insomnia for an entire town. I do not wonder why sport writers are notoriously sarcastic.
A coroner’s inquest, of all things, led my career in a new direction. My editor assigned me the task of covering the inquest, and my work required me to conduct legal research. I had never done any work like that before, and I found the entire process fascinating. In fact, my research was thorough enough that I later received calls from reporters in St. Louis and Kansas City asking for information that appeared in my articles. I did not receive those types of calls when I wrote about high school football games.
I had never once thought about pursuing a legal career, but my experience in covering the inquest along with some other criminal trials led me to enroll in law school. I then enrolled in an M.L.I.S. program after graduating and taking the Texas bar exam. Becoming a law librarian was the last thing on my mind when I was an aspiring college athlete with dreams of becoming a sports writer, but I have been blessed with great opportunities thanks to my choice to pursue this career. I cannot imagine wanting to do anything else.
I have taught introductory and advanced legal research courses at Baylor Law School since 2000. I also teach first-year legal writing classes. Professor Brandon Quarles and I had no plans to write a book when I arrived at Baylor, but during the process of creating course materials and research guides, we realized we had more than enough information to create a textbook. We had fortunate timing because the books covering legal research in Texas had become dated by the early 2000s.
W.S. Hein has published three editions of Researching Texas Law since 2003, with the most recent edition published in 2012. We use this as our textbook in courses in Legal Analysis, Research, and Communications and Advanced Legal Research. I am constantly amazed by how much information continues to change, and it will not be long before we are ready to work on a new edition. In the meantime, I can watch football without having to write about it.
SALE: Purchase Matthew C. Cordon’s title for 10% off!
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This practical manual for legal research in Texas focuses on those types of resources and research processes commonly encountered by modern-day practitioners. It covers not only the basic skills that are needed to perform legal research in the day-to-day practice of law, such as case law research, statutory research, administrative research, etc., but also such areas as jury instructions, briefs and records, civil jury verdicts and settlements, and attorney general opinions. This book is intended for law students, attorneys who practice law in Texas, and the many thousands of additional individuals who engage in legal research in a practical setting.
Item #: 63833
Published: Buffalo; William S. Hein & Co., Inc.; 2012