Tom Vick 2018-02-27 18:35:37
A HEALTHIER CIVILITY The highest courts in the state and the State Bar of Texas have proclaimed April 20 as the Texas Day of Civility. In doing so the courts and the bar have said: Further, we urge all lawyers to conduct themselves with the utmost courtesy and professionalism toward judges, adversaries, peers, workplace colleagues and in performing their duties to their clients, and with the highest degree of civility toward other counsel and their clients. 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. Certainly, that is all true and are laudable guidelines for conducting our affairs. But it causes me to ponder how we got to the point it became necessary to need a lawyer’s creed and a day of civility to begin with. Shouldn’t this be obvious? Didn’t we learn this from the folks who raised us and from our elementary school teachers? Regardless, shouldn’t we innately know this is how mature professionals should be conducting business? The answer is that we do. But what we do for a living is difficult and can be stressful. Our clients leave their most complex and daunting problems on our desks to resolve. They come to us when there is no other solution. Occasionally they are business issues, other times it is the carnage of their personal affairs. They want resolution and demand we be passionate advocates for them and their causes. Too often clients demand we get emotionally enmeshed in their problems with them and we succumb. When we do that we lose our effectiveness as advocates. When we do that we lose the objectivity we must have to serve them well. Too often this is when we cease to live the Texas Lawyer’s Creed and our conduct is unbecoming of our profession. Not only do we become ineffective counselors and advocates, but we also engender disrespect for the courts and the rule of law. This year when we recognize and celebrate the need for civility, let us also be mindful of the conduct that got us here. Let us resolve to be passionate about our arguments and our clients’ causes without the emotional baggage that clouds our good judgment. We will be happier, healthier professionals and we will serve our clients more effectively if we do so. TOM VICK President, State Bar of Texas
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