On the 12th of May 2022, I attended a seminar in the 'Complete Lawyer' series hosted by the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship (LCF) at Westminster Chapel in London. The seminar was led by Howard Satterthwaite (Lead Pastor at Westminster Chapel and former LCF Student and Young Lawyers' Director) and Mark Bainbridge (Executive Director) who presented a transformative look at the 'Discerning Lawyer', where the heart and mind of Christ-centred legal work were examined.
After a warm welcome and the opportunity to exchange with fellow attendees, the seminar began with an opening prayer. Then Howard shared his testimony and his journey with the Lord, he then proceeded to give a brief insight into his former work defending prisoners on death row in the United States.
The main discussion revolved around the Epistle to the Philippians and we collectively explored what it means to be discerning and what is best for our colleagues, clients, and families. Howard explained that it is by walking humbly with our Lord that true justice can come. According to the Bible, standing up for law and justice should be a natural part of human activity. A community that behaves justly comes closer to God: "Justice exalts a nation".
I was encouraged to consider that a commitment to earthly justice is more important than leading an pious, isolated life away from people and real-life situations to bring hope into.
While the path to qualifying as a lawyer is long and requires a lot of discipline and commitment, we have to be cautious of not becoming a ‘corporate Pharaoh’ who idolises his or her job and clients instead of walking humbly in accordance with the Shepherd’s voice and instructions. While we are told in the Bible to work hard, working also means that God might be working through us. In addition, working hard should not give us permission to let it become the priority of our lives because we are, first, Christians and followers of Christ, and secondly, lawyers. As written in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything, a time to work and a time to rest.
A discerning judgement and consistency in long-term action is of utmost importance. The "principiis obsta (et respice finem)” – resisting the beginnings and considering the outcome"- ought to be one of our principles. The most common advice shared built on this and says that we should never act against our Biblically-rooted convictions. The work we are doing might be our calling in this life and God wants to use us in that job, as a lawyer, to serve others. As lawyers we might have to serve our clients who we should serve in a discerning manner by understanding what might be best for them, giving good advice and making sound judgements.
Overall, I was really pleased to participate in the 'Discerning Lawyer' seminar where two of my passions, the Word of God and Law, were connected. The seminar helped me understand how we can reconcile being a ‘discerning lawyer’ and a useful lawyer at the same time. There may be challenges along our paths, but there will also be rewarding opportunities for Christians working in the legal sector, where we can glorify God through our work and words.
What motivates us is not the justice of this earth but knowing and rejoicing in God’s grace and perfect justice which is to come.