HBA Establishes Justice Eugene A. Cook Professionalism Award

The Houston Bar Association presented the first Justice Eugene A. Cook Professionalism Award at its Annual Dinner on May 17. The award was established by the HBA Board of Directors to recognize a lawyer or judge who exemplifies the highest level of legal ethics and a lifetime of professionalism.

The inaugural recipient of the award is its namesake, the Hon. Eugene A. Cook, a former Texas Supreme Court Justice and former president of the Houston Bar Association, who is often called the “father of professionalism” in Texas. Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht accepted the award on behalf of Justice Cook, who was unable to attend.

While serving on the Supreme Court of Texas in 1989, Justice Cook requested the Court to appoint the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Professionalism, which he chaired. Justice Cook was the principal architect of the Texas Lawyer’s Creed issued by the committee. The Texas Lawyer’s Creed was adopted by the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, making Texas the first state to adopt a creed to govern the conduct of all of its lawyers. When he served as president of the HBA and chair of the HBA’s Professionalism Committee, he promoted ethics and professionalism throughout Houston and the state. Justice Cook also worked with courts, bar associations, and law schools in numerous other states to promote professionalism and the value of mentoring programs.

Justice Cook’s work in professionalism has been recognized by other organizations. He has received the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Award for Professionalism and Ethics from the American Inns of Court, which is the preeminent national award for professionalism. Justice Cook has also received the Lola Wright Foundation Award from the Texas Bar Foundation for advancing legal ethics and professionalism in Texas and the Distinguished Professionalism Award from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism.