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SBOT President’s Update: Civility & Professionalism

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 10:43 -- admin25

by Tom Vick

You know you have a good idea when someone pats your back or nods approvingly. But you know you have a truly great idea when someone copies it.

A great idea was born in Dallas more than a year ago. It materialized in the form of the Day of Civility and Professionalism, first held on September 9, 2016, and again on October 20, 2017. The first year included a free, half-day seminar, where attorneys reaffirmed the Texas Lawyer’s Creed and rededicated themselves to the highest principles of civility. It was recognized in every Dallas state and federal court and by a number of legal chapters and organizations, including the Dallas Bar Association, the Dallas Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the local American Inns of Court, and the State Bar of Texas Professionalism Committee.

Inspired by the work in Dallas, the State Bar Professionalism Committee created a guide to teach other bar associations how they could create their own Day of Civility. The guide, which includes a sample timeline, posters, fliers, and other useful items, can be found online at texasbar.com/professionalism.

Not stopping there, this year, Texas will commemorate a statewide Day of Civility. The justices of the Supreme Court of Texas and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals have proclaimed April 20, 2018, the Texas Day of Civility in the Law. The proclamation was signed in late 2017. The State Bar Board of Directors will pass its own proclamation in January supporting the statewide commemoration.

The Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals renewed the spirit of professionalism in 1989 when they promulgated the Texas Lawyer’s Creed. The driving force behind the creed’s creation is that proper conduct is much more than avoiding violation of disciplinary rules. The courts’ order began: “The conduct of a lawyer should be characterized at all times by honesty, candor, and fairness. In fulfilling his or her primary duty to a client, a lawyer must be ever mindful of the profession’s broader duty to the legal system.”

It is worth your time to read the entire Texas Lawyer’s Creed. The State Bar offers free creed brochures and posters and encourages lawyers and judges to place them in their offices and courtrooms. You can email professionalism@texasbar.com to ask for copies.

There will certainly be more announcements and events to come as we draw closer to April 20, but it is my honor to place credit where credit is due—with the Dallas legal community for the fantastic execution of the first Day of Civility. Thanks also to Suzanne Duvall, chair of the State Bar Professionalism Committee; Justice Douglas Lang, of Texas’ Fifth Court of Appeals, who is heading the State Bar Professionalism Committee’s Day of Civility subcommittee; and our esteemed high court justices and judges for their leadership in creating a statewide Day of Civility. I would also like to thank the following DBA members who helped put the initial program together: Jerry Alexander, Wes Alost, Shonn Brown, Al Ellis, DBA President Michael Hurst, Patrick Long, Richard Pullman, and Mary Scott.

Promoting civility is an important step we can take to strengthen our profession and earn more respect from the public and for the rule of law. I am thrilled to support this initiative as State Bar president and invite you to get involved.

Tom Vick, a partner in Vick Carney LLP in Weatherford, is the 2017-2018 president of the State Bar of Texas.

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