Today is the Day of Civility in Texas.

What does that mean exactly? Well, once a year, the legal community in Texas takes an entire day to focus on and improve the conduct of lawyers and to celebrate the importance of civility in our legal system.  This day—known as the Day of Civility—was created to encourage legal professionals to aspire to the highest levels of courteous and professional interaction with judges, peers, adversaries, and workplace colleagues.  This spirit of professionalism inspired the promulgation of the Texas Lawyer’s Creed in 1989, which serves as every lawyer’s “how-to” guide on civility. Its preamble states that, “[t]he conduct of a lawyer should be characterized at all times by honesty, candor, and fairness.”

The State Bar of Texas urges all local bar associations to participate in a Day of Civility—both to educate and to celebrate all members of the bar.  The Dallas Bar Association will host its Day of Civility today at the historic Belo Mansion in downtown Dallas. The event features speakers and dignitaries from around the state, including Justice Eva Guzman of the Supreme Court of Texas, Tom Vick, President of the State Bar of Texas, the Honorable Carolyn Wright, Justice of the Fifth District Court of Appeals, and Royal Ferguson, Dean of UNT Dallas College of Law.

So why is civility so important? Why do we need a Day of Civility?

Justice Anthony Kennedy succinctly summarized the importance of civility in his 1997 speech at the American Bar Association’s Annual Meeting, stating: “[Civility] … is not some bumper-sticker slogan, ‘Have you hugged your adversary today?’ Civility is the mark of an accomplished and superb professional.”

P.T. Barnum, whose life is the subject of the recent hit movie The Greatest Showman, also praised civility, stating that “politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business.”

Civility–encompassing respect, professionalism, candor, honesty, and fairness–is espoused by OWL Attorneys and staff alike.

Here are “The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct” for you to follow to ensure perfectly civil conduct:

  1. Pay attention
  2. Acknowledge others
  3. Think the best
  4. Listen
  5. Be inclusive
  6. Speak kindly
  7. Don’t speak ill
  8. Accept and give praise
  9. Respect even a subtle “no”
  10. Respect others’ opinions
  11. Mind your body
  12. Be agreeable
  13. Keep it down (and rediscover silence)
  14. Respect other people’s time
  15. Respect other people’s space
  16. Apologize earnestly and thoughtfully
  17. Assert yourself
  18. Avoid personal questions
  19. Care for your guests
  20. Be a considerate guest
  21. Think twice before asking for favors
  22. Refrain from idle complaints
  23. Give constructive criticism
  24. Respect the environment and be gentle to animals
  25. Don’t shift responsibility and blame.

From Choosing Civility. Copyright © 2002 P. M. Forni. (St. Martin’s Press, 2002)

Happy Day of Civility from O’Neil Wysocki!