A Christian attorney is, first and foremost, a Christian. One who has been born of the Holy Spirit by declaring his faith in Jesus as the Christ and by believing that God raised Jesus from the dead, knowing that without the sinless life, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus, they stand condemned before God because of their sin. Such a man or woman is one who knows that his life is no longer his own, but that the gift of new life through faith in Jesus has freed them from sin for the purpose of glorifying God.
Second, a Christian attorney is one who recognizes that he is saved for a purpose. Ephesians 2:8-10 makes it clear that we are not saved by good works, but rather that we are saved to do “good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” A Christian attorney recognizes that the “good works” he or she has been called to includes the same works that Jesus did (John 14:12), such as preaching and teaching the Word of God. This recognition informs the way a Christian approaches every aspect of life, including law and public policy – professions generally referred to as “secular”. A Christian attorney is one who examines the teaching of Scripture and life of Christ, and approaches law and government in light of what Jesus did and what He is still doing. This includes:
Jesus as the Advocate of Truth
“Truth” is a key concept in Scripture. Over and over again we are told that Jesus is truth, that we must worship Him in truth, that we are to examine teachings to see if they are true, and even to tear down ideas that raise themselves up against the truth of Christ. Without truth, there is no cross, no forgiveness, and no hope.
Christians trained in the law have a unique ability to defend truth in the arenas of law and public policy because they have a Biblical framework for addressing the primary issues facing our culture, from both a practical legal perspective and a theological perspective. They are trained in sound reasoning and precise communication, giving them the tools necessary to advocate for truth in the public square with both wisdom and gentleness.
We also see Scripture portray Christ as a very personal advocate as well. Not only does Jesus defend the woman caught in the act of adultery, but He is our advocate before the Father when we sin (I John 2:1). Jesus is our defender against the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10).
In a similar fashion, a lawyer’s role is to be an advocate for his client by ensuring that the facts are properly presented and the law correctly applied. The lawyer is not the judge to pronounce the judgment, but is a spokesperson for the one who chooses not to speak for himself.
Just as Christ advocated for truth in all He did, Christians trained in law and public policy hold a unique ability to speak truth in law and government – two areas of our society desperately in need of truth. And just as Christ is our advocate before the Father speaking on our behalf, so Christian attorneys have the unique privilege of representing their client, pursuing accuracy and truth on behalf of the one they represent.
Jesus as the Counselor of Reconciliation
The prophet Isaiah proclaimed the Messiah would be Counselor and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus certainly was the Counselor, who helped people understand their sinful state and proclaimed the need to be reconciled to God through repentance from sin and faith toward God. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved, or reconciled to God (John 3:17).
Counseling involves helping people “see” the lies they believe that are producing destructive consequences in their lives. Counseling involves speaking the truth in love with the goal of reconciliation, freedom, and restoration. Jesus gave each of us the ministry of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:19) and a Christian attorney’s goal is to use his or her position as an attorney to help people abide in Jesus – to know the truth so that they may be free. (John 8:31-32). A Christian attorney also desires to restore those who are in conflict and to bring healing and closure to conflicts in a way that honors God and breathes life (Galatians 6:1; Matthew 18:15-17).
These are also roles of an attorney. His goal is to avoid, resolve, and help heal conflicts caused through sin and wrong choices. A Christian lawyer has a tremendous opportunity to be a counselor of reconciliation between parties, as well as being a counselor regarding the law.
Jesus as the Minister of Justice
Government leaders in some countries are called “ministers” with respect to certain areas of responsibility. For example, a minister of finance oversees the financial affairs of a nation. This perspective is from the teaching of the Apostle Paul recorded in Romans 13:1-4. A civil ruler is a “minister of God to you for good.” This includes judges, legislators, and civil executives and, by extension, attorneys in their roles as officers of the court.
We know that Jesus did not come the first time to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). However, we know that on the Day of the Lord, Jesus will judge the living and the dead according to the perfect standard of God (II Timothy 4:1). For those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life because of their faith is Jesus as Savior, they are deemed guiltless. But for all others, the judgment is eternal death and separation from God (John 3:18).
As Jesus is a judge, lawyers who are judges should make righteous judgments according to the law. Furthermore, all lawyers are officers of the court and have corresponding ethical duties, particularly those serving in cases where harm has been inflicted and justice required.
A Christian attorney is first and foremost a Christian. Second, he or she is a Christian specifically called to do “good works” in law and government as an attorney. With a renewed mind about law, a Christian attorney can fulfill the roles of being an advocate, counselor, and minister. This is the mission of Oak Brook College of Law: training “advocates of truth, counselors of reconciliation, and ministers of justice,” whether as legal assistants or practicing lawyers.