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Celebrating 100 Episodes of the Texas Appellate Law Podcast

Co-host Jody Sanders and I recently released the 100th episode of the Texas Appellate Law Podcast, proudly presented by Butler Snow. It’s a milestone worth celebrating, so we decided to try something different as a way of marking the occasion.

Before going into how we celebrated, I’d like to quickly overview how we got here.

From Twitter Joke to Reality

During the first week of March of 2020, Jody and I visited the Texas Supreme Court building in Austin to record our inaugural episodes. What began as a tongue-in-cheek, loosely conceptual conversation over Twitter a month or two earlier was becoming something real, thanks in no small part to Supreme Court Clerk Blake Hawthorne, who had invited us to kick things off by recording a few sessions in the Supreme Court courtroom and had arranged for Justice Jeff Boyd to appear as our first guest.

Todd Smith, Jody Sanders and Justice Jeff Boyd recording in the Texas Supreme Court courtroom

Jody Sanders, Todd Smith, and Justice Jeff Boyd recording in the Texas Supreme Court courtroom on March 6, 2020. Photo credit: Blake Hawthorne.

Jody and I recorded three episodes that day, including one with Blake. We had no idea whether the podcast would take hold or how long it would last. We only knew that we wanted to help make appellate law more accessible, talk to interesting people, and give trial lawyers and others who might tune in a view inside the often-mysterious appellate system.

A few weeks later, COVID-19 shut the world down. But we found a way to press forward.

Confined to our homes, we started recording over Zoom, a tool the legal world was quickly becoming accustomed to using. Longing for human interaction like we were, judges, practitioners, and court staff graciously agreed to visit with us and for our recorded conversations to be broadcast publicly. We adapted as the world adjusted to the pandemic, but we kept going and never looked back.

Listeners followed, some from within the #AppellateTwitter community, but many not. Other distinguished guests followed too, including some of Justice Boyd’s current and former Texas Supreme Court colleagues, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals judges, trial and appellate judges from other courts and states, law professors, legal technology entrepreneurs, and more.

Now, more than two years after we recorded those first episodes, we’ve hit the century mark and are approaching 50,000 total downloads. Not bad, considering we had no idea what we were doing when we started.

100 Episodes of Guest Tips

If you’ve listened to the show, you know that we ask our guests to share a tip or a war story as we wind down each episode. To celebrate Episode 100, we decided to highlight our favorite guest tips and offer some commentary on each.

But we didn’t stop there. To honor the occasion, we decided to release videos—first on Twitter (@TexAppLawPod) and now in this post—of each guest offering their own tip in their own words.

So here they are, in alphabetical order by guest:

These are highly valuable bits of wisdom relevant to appellate practice (and often elsewhere) from some unique and authoritative sources. We hope they resonate with you the way they have with us.

Some Personal Gratitude

Podcasting has been rewarding in ways I couldn’t have imagined starting out. It has allowed me to get to know our guests in a way that casual, one-off conversations wouldn’t, especially during the pandemic.

Over time, we have found our voice as podcasters and have developed an identity for the show that, while true to our original vision, also permits us to cover topics beyond Texas appellate law. We approach each interview from a broad perspective, often asking our guests what led them into law or about other aspects of their career journeys, but we go deep on subjects they care about. Inevitably, by exploring these varied concepts and perspectives, we walk alongside our listeners and learn something interesting and relevant to appellate practice.

It’s no stretch to say that hosting the Texas Appellate Law Podcast has enriched my professional life and has made me a better appellate lawyer. I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit with our outstanding guests, for my ongoing collaboration with Jody, for Butler Snow’s enthusiastic support of the show, and to those who have played significant roles along the way. (Thanks Blake!) I look forward to seeing what the next 100 episodes bring.