A constant refrain heard at the University of Houston Law Center is the need for graduates to give something back to the community, to the profession, and to the school. Faculty, alumni, and guest speakers urge students to not only excel in the law, but also to take time to make things better.
One who has taken that to heart in the years since graduating from the Law Center is Eugene A. Cook, former Texas Supreme Court Justice. Cook was recently named as recipient of the George Washington Honor Medal by the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. The Freedoms Foundation honors Americans who go above and beyond in their efforts to educate their communities about the values of good citizenship, either through teaching or by example.
Cook earned his J.D. from the Law Center in 1966 and went on to a distinguished legal career. He joined Butler & Binion law firm where he was elected partner. A board certified specialist in civil trial and family law, in 1985, he formed his own firm, Cook, Davis and McFall, where he served as managing partner. Governor William P. Clements appointed Cook to the Texas Supreme Court in 1988 and he won a statewide election that same year. He served on the high court from 1988-92. He then joined the firm of Bracewell & Giuliani as a senior partner and led the firm's appellate group until his retirement in 2002.
Throughout his career, Cook worked tirelessly with state and local bar committees to improve the legal profession by helping to expand educational opportunities for attorneys and by tightening ethical standards. He has been called the “father of professionalism” for his work in drafting the “Texas Lawyer’s Creed,” a code of conduct. He has won numerous local, state, and national awards for his efforts. A proud alumnus, he also taught at the Law Center and for the College of Business. Cook has served as chair of Continuing Legal Education committees for both the Houston Bar Association and the State Bar. He has also spoken at more than 150 CLE events. Last year, Cook was honored with the Gene Cavin award, the highest honor given annually by the State Bar of Texas in the area of continuing legal education.
In support of his nomination for the George Washington Medal one letter said, “He touched a countless number of lives through his 36-year legal career.” He also touched countless more in his work with children. Justice Cook volunteered with the Special Olympics for more than 27 years, serving as chairman of the board of the Special Olympics of Texas in 1994. He also served on the board of the Houston YMCA’s Camp Cullen. Please join me in congratulating Eugene A. Cook, an excellent jurist and role model for our young lawyers – paying something back to the profession and the community.
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