Of the many things I didn’t learn in law school, how to be a psychologist is right up there at the top. I’ve talked to more than 300,000 people in my 12+ years of running a legal guidance and lawyer referral service. Most people that contact me are similar, even if there cases are different. Some however have mental issues, e.g. they believe the police have planted tracking devices in their brains. Others are afraid that they will upset family members if they have to get an attorney. But for me, the most challenging call is when people don’t think they should hire a lawyer or feel conflicted about it because it’s not the Christian thing to do.
With a caveat that I’m a mostly non-practicing Jew who owes almost all of my knowledge about Christianity to my lovely, Catholic wife, I’m certainly not the one who can tell people what Jesus would have done if his neighbor knocked down his fence and wouldn’t pay for the repairs or if he would have retained counsel if DCFS was alleging that his child’s broken leg (yes, I know he didn’t have a kid, work with me here) was a result of his neglect.
The people that call me are pretty much looking for someone to give them permission to hire an attorney, to tell them that it’s ok. I’m no theologist, but I can’t imagine that Jesus, Buddha or anyone else would tell you that having a lawyer look out for your best interests or try to help you solve a problem would be a sin.
This type of call happens more often than you’d imagine. Because they are calling me and not going to confession or confiding in a priest, they really are just looking for the ok. I don’t have the moral authority to do that other than to tell them I can’t imagine Jesus would be upset at them for looking out for their best interests.
Another call I get a lot is from people who are looking for a “Christian” lawyer. I honestly don’t even know what that means. My thought process is similar to when Bobby Knight talked about game faces. And it’s really a backhanded question because it implies that most attorneys are scum bags who would do anything immoral in order to win a case. Now I do know many attorneys that are very involved in their church, so I typically point callers in that direction if I can. But if you are facing the threat of losing your home to foreclosure, do you want the guy who prays hard every Sunday in your corner or the guy who has won 500 similar cases in the last year alone?
I do believe in God and don’t mean to mock anybody that has a stronger belief than me that their religion is the only right answer. If they feel more comfortable with a “Christian” attorney so be it. I often ask people with family law cases if they’d feel more comfortable with a man or a woman. Being comfortable with an attorney can often lead to a better relationship with them. It’s a little different when somebody calls up and tells me that they “want a really Jewish lawyer.” That’s not typically a moral issue, but rather they perceive us Jews as being really aggressive, good with money, willing to do anything, etc.
So what do you think? Would Jesus always turn the other cheek if he were alive today and living as a “normal” person? Or would he draw the line in the sand and lawyer up when he was in the right and couldn’t get justice any other way?
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