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ow many times have we heard “They just

don’t make them like they used to”? Perhaps

the topic was cars or homes or maybe litera-

ture or films. But the same has been said about people

in certain professions such as doctors and even judges.

Many of us attended law schools that used the case-

book teaching method which implied that certain judg-

es from years gone by displayed great writing skills to-

gether with an exceptional ability to analyze and apply

the law that set them apart from and, frankly, ahead of

judges who would follow.While we will all remember

the eloquence and rhetorical skills of Judge Learned

Hand and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., I think it

is bleak and short-sighted to fail to recognize the ex-

traordinary jurists of today and even tomorrow. Having

had the privilege and experience of being a judge for

over 27 years, I am proud to know and work with so

many in our profession.

I am often asked who was my mentor or the per-

son who most influenced my career. The answer is

easy. Upon graduating from law school, I clerked for

the Honorable Halbert O.Woodward, the Chief Fed-

eral District Judge for the Northern District of Texas.

Judge Woodward demonstrated a strong sense of re-

sponsibility to perform his duties ethically and fairly,

outstanding legal acumen, common sense, and last, but

not least, a bold sense of humor. Looking back on that

time, I was too inexperienced to appreciate the effect

JudgeWoodward would have on my career long-term,

but today I know what a blessing it was to have worked

for him at such an impressionable time in my career.

Over the last few years, I have had the honor to be a

member of the Board of Directors of the Texas Cen-

ter of the Judiciary and the Chair of the Board for the

past year. In fulfilling those roles, I have come to know

so many more judges across the State of Texas than I

would have known otherwise. I have worked with other

judges on the Board of TCJ, on committees such as the

curriculum committee that plans all theTCJ education-

al conferences and on the Judicial Section Board of the

State Bar of Texas. I have seen judges from all levels of

courts across this state volunteer their time and work

with dedica-

tion to ad-

vance the

quality and

integrity of

our profes-

sion. The

goal is the

same for all

those in-

volved – to

p r o m o t e


in judicial

o f f i c e r s

and there-

by enhance

our judicial

system. In my view, it’s working.

My point is that I cannot agree that they don’t make

them like they used to.While, for me, there will never

be another Judge Woodward, there are those inspira-

tional role models for impressionable young lawyers

who don’t even yet know they might want to be a

judge. I am encouraged about the future of our profes-


want new judges to learn from the best.The

good news is they can learn from the legal scholars of

the past but they also have the real-life influence of the

bright minds who are today’s jurists. I believe the best

is yet to come.


Justice Lee Gabriel