John F. Murphy

Instructional Associate Professor of Law

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“Words and logic are to lawyers what scalpels and sutures are to surgeons. Anyone who aspires to practice law must first learn to use the tools of the trade.”

Get to Know John F. Murphy

What drew you to the law?

As an undergraduate, I developed a keen interest in logic, rhetoric, writing, and history. The law allowed me to leverage those interests into a tool for serving others — and to make a living doing what I love.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

Every law school promises to teach students to “think like a lawyer,” but few can define what that means. My passion is breaking the “think like a lawyer” process into discreet steps and teaching those steps to law students. Facilitating and observing the change in students’ thought processes is what I enjoy most about teaching.

What do you hope students gain from your courses?

My students will learn to think and write like lawyers, in the best sense of both verbs. They will learn the step-by-step process of thoroughly analyzing an issue based on the applicable rules and relevant evidence. And they will learn to express their analysis in clear, concise, and technically excellent writing.

What did you do prior to entering academia?

I was a staff attorney for the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth and a name partner in a Fort Worth litigation firm, where my practice focused on civil trials and appeals.

What are you passionate about outside of the law?

Sailing, backpacking, barbeque, and spending as much time as possible with my wife and five kids.

What are your research interests?

My research focuses on legal pedagogy, logic and legal writing.

Publications

My publications are available on BePress SelectedWorks™.

Presentations

  • “Developing a Targeted Class to Improve Academic Performance and Bar Passage,” Southwest Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Annual Conference at Texas A&M Law (March 2015)
  • “What LARW Professors Can Learn From Teaching Underperforming Students,” Legal Writing Institute One-Day Workshop at the University of Detroit – Mercy School of Law (Dec. 2014)
  • “Teaching Remedial Problem-Solving Skills to Underperforming Law Students,” SALT Teaching Conference at the University of Las Vegas School of Law (Oct. 2014)
  • “The Case Grid: A Tool for Analogical Reasoning,” Texas Bar Association – Appellate Section Annual Conference, Austin, Texas (Sept. 2013)
  • “A Sense of Style: The Best Stylebooks for Legal Writers, State Bar of Texas, Austin (April 2013)
  • “YouTube Pedagogy: A Practical Guide,” Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Annual Conference, New York Law School (June 2011)

Expertise

  • Legal writing
  • Texas appellate practice
  • Lawyering skills

Courses

  • Legal Analysis, Research & Writing I, II & III
  • The Art of Lawyering

Academic Experience

  • Associate Professor of Law
    Texas A&M University School of Law (2013-present)
  • Associate Professor of Law
    Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (2009-2013)
  • Adjunct Professor
    Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (2000-2001, 2006-2009)

Education

  • J.D., University of Texas School of Law, with honors
  • B.A., University of Texas

Awards / Honors

  • LARW Professor of the Year, 2013
  • LARW Professor of the Year, 2012
  • LARW Professor of the Year, 2011

Other Professional Activities

  • Editor, Tarrant County Bar Bulletin
  • President, Educational Scholarships for Single Parents