The Family Creed – Bringing Civility Into The Celebration

If you are looking for a way to keep your extended-family holiday gathering from sinking into a morass of harsh words, recriminations and hurt feelings, then you should consider following those models of decorum: lawyers.

Stop laughing. The legal profession is really onto something here.

A generation ago, several attorneys and judges looked around and realized that the Rambo-like tactics of certain lawyers had gotten out of hand. So they drafted a set of professional mandates for lawyers that were aspirational, and called it The Texas Lawyer’s Creed. The two highest Texas courts liked the resulting document so much that they issued it as a court order and made it binding upon all Texas lawyers. They reaffirmed the Creed in 2013.

Since the Creed deals in courtesy and decorum, a goodly portion of it is instructive for handling family interactions. What follows are the more salient points; some of the statements have been modified to make them applicable for dealing with family members instead of courts, opposing counsel and clients. Just consider: if the Creed has helped civilize the brawling legal profession, then think what it could do for your family. You may even want to print this and pass it around with the appetizers.


I can disagree without being disagreeable.

I will be punctual.

I will treat family members and guests with fairness and due consideration. A family member has no right to demand that I abuse anyone or indulge in any offensive conduct.

I will abstain from any allusion to personal peculiarities or idiosyncrasies of family members.

I will not knowingly misrepresent, mischaracterize, misquote, or miscite facts or authorities to gain an advantage.

I will be courteous, civil, and prompt in oral and written communications.

I will not, without good cause, attribute bad motives or unethical conduct to others nor bring the family into disrepute by unfounded accusations of impropriety.

I will avoid disparaging personal remarks or acrimony toward family members.

I will conduct myself in family gatherings in a professional manner and demonstrate my respect for the family and its traditions.

I will readily stipulate to undisputed facts in order to avoid needless costs or inconvenience for anyone.

I will treat everyone with courtesy and civility.

I will give the issue in controversy deliberate, impartial and studied analysis and consideration.

I will not quarrel over matters of form or style, but I will concentrate on matters of substance.

I will always recognize that the position of parent is the symbol of both the family and the community structure. I will refrain from conduct that degrades this symbol.

I recognize that effective parenting does not require antagonistic or obnoxious behavior.

I will advise my children of proper and expected behavior.

I will advise my children that civility and courtesy are expected and are not a sign of weakness.

I will not engage in any conduct which offends the dignity and decorum of proceedings.

My word is my bond.

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.