Professor John Murphy was among ten Texas A&M University faculty recently selected to receive the 2021 Provost Academic Professional Track Faculty Teaching Excellence Award. This award encourages, recognizes, and rewards faculty who provide students with meaningful learning experiences, embrace effective teaching approaches, and value student-centered learning.
Murphy is known for his profound impact as a teacher and innovator in legal education, having previously earned the Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award.
Murphy's teaching initiatives around the bar exam have yielded extraordinary, measurable success for Texas A&M Law graduates. In fact, in 2020 A&M Law graduates had the highest pass rate in the state among first time takers of the Texas bar exam.
“I'm grateful to my law-school colleagues, especially in the legal-writing department, who have taught me so much about teaching and served as mentors and role models. And to my wife and kids, who are willing to overlook the many times I am physically or mentally absent at home because I'm working on yesterday's grading or tomorrow's lesson plan,” said Murphy about the award.
Murphy is passionate about using an iterative process for both student and self-reflection. Seeing a need for struggling students, he designed a new course, The Art of Lawyering, and developed a conceptual tool called “The Big T” to help students break down complex legal rules.
“The study of law does not have to be tedium and drudgery (which is how I felt when I was in law school),” says Murphy. “It can be lively, engaging, and even fun. I try to incorporate that concept into my classes (especially my first-year legal-writing classes) without watering down the content. To that end, I've ‘gamified’ some of the most tedious aspects of legal writing — grammar, punctuation, and citations — into activities like ‘Grammar Survivor’ and ‘Citation Jeopardy.’”
This week, Murphy and his A&M colleagues were rewarded again when the 2022 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools ranked the Legal Writing program at A&M Law No. 25 in the nation.
“What makes TAMU Law special (in all areas of teaching, but this is especially true in the legal-writing department), is our professors' dedication to our students' success. The accessibility of our faculty to students is unparalleled. So, too, is their zeal for innovating in the classroom. Our motto could be, ‘Whatever it takes,’ because that's what my colleagues are willing to do to ensure successful outcomes for our students, in the classroom and beyond.”
Murphy became a faculty member at Texas A&M in 2013. He earned his J.D. at the University of Texas School of Law and was a recipient of the Legal Analysis & Writing Professor of the Year Award in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018.