The Texas Lawyer’s Creed was adopted by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas in 1989, then reaffirmed in 2013. Amendments were passed in 2016 to update the creed. Civility is at the heart of the creed – suggesting that the conduct of a lawyer should “be characterized at all time by honesty, candor, and fairness.” It reminds lawyers that we owe, not only a duty to our clients, but also to the legal system as a whole. Designed by Justice Eugene Cook, with the assistance of James “Blackie” Holmes III and Fred Hagans, the Texas Lawyers Creed came about due to an increase in “Rambo” obstructionist tactics, numerous motions for sanctions, and generally petty behavior that concerned high level members of the Texas Bar.
In 2015, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a civility oath to be added to the oath that every lawyer takes when being admitted to the Texas bar. The oath adds that the individual will conduct oneself with integrity and civility in dealing with the court and all parties.
Justice Anthony Kennedy described civility as, “not some bumper-sticker slogan… but the mark of an accomplished and superb professional… with deep roots in respect for the individual.” (Kennedy, Anthony, 1997 Speech, ABA Annual Meeting.)
The Creed contains four focuses of civility:
- Our legal system – A lawyer owes to the administration of justice personal dignity, integrity, and independence.
- Lawyer to client – A lawyer owes to a client allegiance, learning, skill, and industry.
- Lawyer to lawyer – A lawyer owes to opposing counsel courtesy, candor, cooperation, and scrupulous observance of all agreements and mutual understandings.
- Lawyer to judge – Lawyers and judges owe each other respect, diligence, candor, punctuality, and protection against unjust and improper criticism and attack.
The Creed is completely voluntary, with no means of enforcement. Involuntary enforcement operates contrary to the purpose of the creed. We as lawyers should desire to achieve the goals of the creed, without such actions being a requirement.
To read the entire Texas Lawyer’s Creed, click here.