Thursday, January 1, 2009

TLR / TBAR: The Cicero Project, Lawyers and Integrity

Wednesday December 31, 2008, the Wall Street Journal ran a book review of "The Race for a New Game Machine" by David Shippy and Mickie Phipps. The review was on page A7, entitled "Playing the Fool" and was written by Jonathan V. Last. It was an excellent review and I talked with my son about the story it revealed.

The subtitle to the review is, "How Sony inadvertently helped a competitor and lost position in the videogame market." The subtitle could have read, "How IBM stabbed a business partner in the back." Sony signed a contract with IBM to develop the cell microprocessor, but IBM gave the best parts of the design to Microsoft, a competitor to Sony. IBM helped Microsoft improve upon the cell chip and worked to give Microsoft a competitive advantage over Sony, their business partner. The author of the book, Shippy, wrote he felt "contaminated" as he sat down with Microsoft engineers and betrayed the trust of Sony.

I have often told my son that the greatest thefts and swindles are done with contracts. We talked about this article in the Wall Street Journal. We talked about how trust cannot exist without integrity, that there is a lack of integrity in business, and you cannot trust business partners. I reminded him it can be dangerous to sign a contract written by someone who cannot be trusted. Obviously, IBM cannot be trusted, but then who can be in American business?

I've previously said that integrity is the cornerstone of the Texas Leadership Revolution (TLR). Integrity is also the cornerstone of lasting wealth. Integrity is important in business. There is a cost in protecting yourself against being cheated. Contracts have to be very carefully crafted or very carefully reviewed to avoid swindles.

I propose a Cicero Project to develop in Texas the most capable lawyers in the world. Our lawyers here in Texas must be the best in the world in litigation, contract law, constitutional law, integrity, and civic virtue. The interests in litigation and contract law would contribute to the Texas Business and Arts Renaissance (TBAR). The interests in constitutional law, integrity, and civic virtue would contribute to the Texas Leadership Revolution (TLR).

Why name this the Cicero Project? I thought about who might be considered the greatest lawyer in history. Cicero was a lawyer who gave his life protesting tyranny. He was a lawyer who believed in integrity. The last part of his book, "On Duties," (De Officiis) discussed fraud in great detail, the first part of his book was about virtue. Cicero also wrote "The Republic" (De Re Publica) and "On the Laws" (De Legibus). If Cicero is not the greatest lawyer in world history, he is certainly on the short list.

If you look at the high level diagram for the Texas Ascendancy Campaign, you will see that education is the foundation for all of it. The Cicero Project can extend down to the high school level. Our brightest students should be exposed to the ideas of Cicero. Those young people who aspire to greatness should embrace the spirit of duty and integrity spelled out by Cicero.

All of us can contribute to raising up the star of Texas, to restoring prosperity to America, and to bringing integrity back into American business and politics. Lawyers have a special role in this endeavor, and the Cicero Project can be rallying point for this great work.

Robert Canright

Here are more articles that are part of the "Cicero Project"
Cicero Project and Huntsman Corp  Sunday, June 28, 2009
Raising the Bar by Talmage Boston  Sunday, May 27, 2012
Eight Hundred Years of the Magna Carta  Sunday, May 31, 2015

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