History of the Texas Lawyer's Creed

Led by Texas Supreme Court Justice Eugene Cook, who has been called the “father of professionalism” in Texas, the Texas Supreme Court formed the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Professionalism in May, 1989. Because Justice Cook wanted to ensure that the Committee’s work would represent all members of the Bar, he appointed as its co-chairs a plaintiff’s attorney, Fred Hagans of Houston, and a defense attorney, James “Blackie” Holmes of Dallas.

Participants in the Committee meetings recall their discussions as amiable and professional, but passionate and spirited. Ultimately, however, these discussions made it possible for them to clearly articulate the core principles of professionalism that we still follow today. This consensus was possible because – in the words of one committee member, Judge Lamar McCorkle – “the Creed gave voice to the cornerstones and timeless principles of justice and fairness of our profession.”

The culmination of the committee’s work was the November 7, 1989 issuance by The Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals of The Texas Lawyer’s Creed—A Mandate for Professionalism.

Reaction to the Creed's adoption was swift and favorable. Numerous lawyers wrote to express their support and request additional copies of the Creed.  Deans of the Texas law schools were also pleased, and the press – which are often the bearer of bad news about lawyers – ran articles to highlight what they correctly identified as a seminal moment in the legal profession.    

Recently, Justice Cook generously donated papers relating to the Creed’s creation to the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, and both Justice Cook and the TSCHS have agreed to allow the Texas Center for Legal Ethics to post some of these documents here.