Spencer L. Simons, Texas Legal Research (Carolina Academic Press, Revised Printing 2012). 262 pp, paper, ISBN: 978-1-61163-195-1, $26.00. Link to Publisher Website
I’m a fan of Carolina Academic Press’s Legal Research Series, and Spencer Simons’s “Texas Legal Research” is no exception. Aimed at the novice researcher (or expert who needs a refresher), it methodically discusses the process of legal research focused on Texas legal materials. It would make a fine textbook for a Texas-based research class or a welcome addition to a reference collection.
As a Textbook
The book is clearly organized around the research process and could be adapted into a course syllabus easily. Whatever one’s preference for structuring the class, the chapters are clearly delineated and could be presented in a different order without trouble. In fact, the Table of Contents reads like a checklist of any diligent, thorough researcher. The text is presented in an easy and plain style; easily accessible to the uninitiated researcher. The matter-of-fact guidance gets straight to the heart of the most common and important research issues.
As a Reference Work
As a reference work, there are plenty of gems for the advanced or foreign-to-Texas researcher including references to the Greenbook: Texas Rules of Form and a discussion of the Texas codification project. Although it does provide many helpful checklists and tables, the main strength of the book is in its discussion of the research sources and processes. Thus, it doesn’t scan as easily as other reference works. The robust Table of Contents and Index make scannability less of a concern.
The New Printing
The 2012 Revised Printing includes updates from the ongoing Texas codification project, Supreme Court Rules about unpublished opinions, Bluebook Rules and the ever-changing online research platforms. (Too, the image of the State of Texas on the cover is a bit larger; something seldom large enough for us native Texans.) Though the updates are small, they could be important for some researchers.
A search of WorldCat suggests many academic law libraries hold some edition of “Texas Legal Research.” The 2012 Revised Printing updates are small, but an upgrade is probably warranted. Any library with potential Texas law researchers would make a happy home.
G. Patrick Flanagan, Reference Librarian, Columbia Law School