Passion for Civility


It’s spring in Texas and my social media feeds are full of obligatory bluebonnet posts. Bluebonnets have become something of a theme in my family, and we find joy in looking for the first blooms to mark the changing of the seasons. I’ve been accused of being too positive, but I know that life isn’t all sunshine and flowers. I know that you can’t have bluebonnets without rain and for every beautiful spring day, there is a cloud of pollen just waiting to make you sneeze. I’ve also been accused of being too nice or soft, because of my passion for civility. Remove all the pretty imagery and good intentions, and civility is still good for business and the bottom line. If you listen to your opponent more, you will learn more about their position. If you are supportive of the young lawyers in your firm, they will teach you the new technology that will modernize your practice. Studies show that happy employees are more productive,1 and I know that I’m happier when there is either a written or unwritten “no jerks” rule. If someone thinks that civility is a sign of weakness or naivety, they are likely to find out they underestimated the wrong people.

Of course, you should never underestimate a young lawyer in general. I am incredibly proud of our TYLA projects, and I hope that you check them out at tyla.org. You can also reach out to your local TYLA director to learn more about TYLA and our resources. By the end of May, TYLA will have completed the TYLA Federal Evidence Guide, the Civility for All project for educators and students (which was made possible through a generous grant from the Texas Bar Foundation), the Civility for All project for lawyers, educational content on careers in government service, new attorney well-being projects, initiatives that will help Texas educators find and use all of our wonderful resources, new resources for lawyers working with nonprofit organizations, adoption and foster care resources, all of our regularly scheduled competitions, and more. The messages in these projects are valuable, but the people who made the projects happen are priceless. Our relationship wellness resources remind us that we can do hard things together, and we can share joy. In Oprah Winfrey’s forward to Maya Angelou’s book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Oprah says Angelou frequently said, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” TYLA directors and members have taught me so much and given me so much; I can only hope to pass on these gifts to as many people as possible.

Jeanine Novosad Rispoli
2021-2022 President, Texas Young Lawyers Association

For more information on TYLA, contact them at tyla@texasbar.com or go to tyla.org.


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