Legal matters generally involve parties who have different versions of the story and the facts. Cases may be complex and involve legal terms unfamiliar to the public. Understanding the basics of the legal system, the differences in the types of courts, and the meaning of legal terms is important to accurately reporting on legal proceedings.

To help members of the media navigate these issues, the Texas Young Lawyers Association has produced the Media Guide for Reporters. The guide includes tips on obtaining court documents, understanding the difference between state and federal law, ensuring legal terms are used correctly, and finding expert sources who can help explain complex legal matters.

The guide is part of How Texas Courts Work (, TYLA’s new multimedia project designed to help students, jurors, members of the media, and the general public better understand the Texas court system.

Other highlights of How Texas Courts Work include:

  • A primer on the types of Texas courts and their functions.
  • Videos on what to expect in some of the most common types of cases, including divorce, traffic tickets, DWI, and car accidents.
  • A guide on why and how to hire a lawyer.
  • An educational program for middle and high school students.

How Texas Courts Work is made possible by a $45,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation. Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $24 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably funded bar foundation.