Spirituality of Lawyering
Spirituality of Lawyering
Peter J. Riga
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Personal Values - Responding to the Problems of Ethical Schizophrenia, 38
CATH. LAw. 145, 145-46 (1998) (discussing how lawyers must separate their
personal and professional lives because they do not feel they can incorporate
their spirituality into their practice); see generally Samuel J. Levine, The Broad
Life of the Jewish Lawyer: IntegratingSpirituality,Scholarshipand Profession,
27 TEX. TECH L. REV. 1199 (1996) (discussing the difficulty of incorporating the
practice of Orthodox Judaism with a fulfilling legal practice).
2 See Lucia Ann Silecchia, Integrating Spiritual Perspectives with the Law
School Experience:An Essay and an Invitation, 37 SAN DIEGO L. REV. 167,
17274 (2000) (discussing how members of selected professions tend to feel more
satisfied with their profession when it is integrated with a sense of spirituality,
and how difficult it is to accomplish this inclusion).
3 See Gerard V. Bradley, Slaying the Dragon of Politics with the Sword of
Law: Bork's Tempting of America, 1990 U. ILL. L. REV. 243, 257 (1990) (book
4 See Andrew R. Herron, Collegiality, Justice, and the Public Image: Why
One Lawyer's PleasureIs Another's Poison, 44 U. MIAMI L. REV. 807, 832 (1990)
("[Tihe legal profession is currently faced with a significant image crisis [in
that] . . . lawyers ... seem interested in promoting their own interests over those
of society or the profession .... ).
A confused public, finding itself at odds with the results of particular
judicial decisions, experiences increased cynicism about the law.
Unfortunately, lawyers themselves sometimes feed that cynicism by
joining a chorus of critics of the system, instead of helping to reform
it or helping the public to understand the conflicting factual claims
is a serious problem since the very object of the lawyer is to seek
justice and discover the truth5 - a vocation with very few equals
in importance and dignity.6 Why is it that the profession of
lawyering, a most noble profession in itself, has become so deeply
distrusted and disdained in our day and age? Why has it become
more feared than respected, particularly when the profession is
needed more than ever?
I must admit that in all the Christian legal organizations
which I have joined, seeking an answer to this question has
proven futile. Generally what I received was a spirituality that
goes along side of, or collateral to, the profession itself, without
actually reaching within. Is there a spirituality for the
profession which would reach the very act of lawyering that could
then be understood as a spiritual mission, a vocation which could
honor God and men? In those meetings, we spoke about how to
deliver legal services to the poor and indigent; how our prayer
life was to be kept focused for the people who are directed to us;
and how our striving toward justice in particular cases was in
and of itself a spiritual mission which could give our lives as
lawyers meaning and strength (on target but not yet deep enough
as a spiritual analysis). But how are we to think of it?
and legal principles involved in particular cases.
Hon. Sonia Sotomayor & Nicole A. Gordon, Returning Majesty to the Law and
Politics:A Modern Approach, 30 SUFFOLK U. L. REV. 35, 35-36 (1996).
5 See Freeport-McMoran Oil & Gas Co. v. F.E.R.C., 962 F.2d 45, 47 (D.C.
Cir. 1992) ("[G]overnment lawyers have 'the responsibility to seek justice,' and
'should refrain from instituting or continuing litigation that is obviously
unfair."') (quoting MODEL CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY EC 7-14
(1981)); In re E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Co., 918 F. Supp. 1524, 1542
(M.D.Ga. 1995), rev'd on othergrounds, 99 F.3d 363 (11th Cir. 1996) ("[Llawyers
are expected to ...do their duty as officers of the court seeking the truth.");
Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, Lawyers, Judges and Rights, 36 Alberta L.
Rev. 990, 998 (1998) (Speech Delivered at the Annual Alberta Law Review
Banquet (Mar. 5, 1998)) ("The object of the . . . justice system is the delivery of
justice."); John D. Bessler, The Public Interest and the Unconstitutionalityof
Private Prosecutors,47 ARK. L. REV. 511, 520 (1994) (stating that the object of
the court "should be simply justice.") (quoting Biemel v. State, 37 N.W. 244, 247
6 See In re Applicants For License, 55 S.E. 635, 642 (N.C. 1906) (Brown, J.,
dissenting) ("The profession of the law is one of the noblest and most important
of all professions."); James A. Cohen, Lawyer Role, Agency Law, and the
Characterization"Officer of the Court", 48 BUFF. L. REV. 349, 368 n. 90 (2000)
("The dignity and importance of the Profession of the Law... can hardly be
over-estimated.") (quoting George Sharswood, An Essay on ProfessionalEthics,
in 32 REPORTS OF THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION 9 (1907)).
THE SPIRITUAL ISSUES OF LAWYERING
Lawyer burn-out has become so bad that a recent survey by
the North Carolina Bar Association found that: twenty-four
percent would not become attorneys if they could make the
decision again and only fifty-four percent wished to remain in
law practice for the remainder of their careers. The survey
reported "a severe level of dissatisfaction with law practice
among some attorneys and lost dreams and idealism among
many others."7 I believe that this is directly related to a lack of
spirituality and superior meaning in the profession.
The Code of Professional Responsibility, under which every
state Bar operates, mandates that each lawyer has a moral
responsibility to either take on cases for those unable to pay, or
to charge a lesser fee for those who cannot bear the whole
freight.8 Of course, pro bono work can take on different forms:
7 Hon. Carl Horn, Restoring the Foundations:12 Steps Toward Personal
Fulfillment in the Practiceof Law, SOUTH CAROLINA LAWYER (September 1998)
8 The ABA Rules of Professional Conduct suggest that a lawyer perform at
least 50 hours of pro bono services a year, in the form of direct representation to
indigent clients or to organizations- charitable, religious, civic, government or
educational that address the needs of persons with limited means. See MODEL
RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT Rule 6.1 (1993). States vary in whether they
require or simply suggest pro bono hours. For example: New York's Ethical
Cannons state, "Persons unable to pay all or a portion of a reasonable fee should
be able to obtain necessary legal services, and lawyers should support and
participate in appropriate activities designed to achieve that objective." N.Y.
CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, EC 2-16; see also N.Y. CODE OF
PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY, EC 2-25. In Massachusetts, an attorney must do
a minimum of twenty-five hours pro bono service, most of which should be for
free, the remainder can be at a reduced fee. This service can take the form of
service to individuals, or organizations that address the needs of those with
limited means. MASS. S. JUD. CT. R. 6.1. Although Illinois Rules do not state
annual pro bono hours requirements, the preamble states that "It is the
responsibility of those licensed as officers of the court to use their training,
experience and skills to provide services in the public interest for which
compensation may not be available", and that it may take many forms, not
limited to direct representation of the indigent. ILL. SUP. CT. R. art. VIII pmbl.
Kentucky encourages fifty hours of service per year. Ky. SuP. CT. R. 6.1. As of
February 1, 1998, Indiana created a twenty-one member pro bono commission
to encourage and facilitate participation in pro bono activities. INDIANA RULES
OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT R. 6.5. The Wyoming rule is essentially the same as
ABA Rule 6.1 except for the allowance to pay moneys in lieu of performing
service. WYOMING RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT R. 6.1 A number of states
allow attorneys to buy their way out of the pro bono requirement as well, by
public service to civil and charitable causes; writing and speaking
about the law to groups and in the media for the public's
education and information; or work for the betterment of the Bar
itself. But fundamentally, many of the poor and lower middle
class lack the resources to gain access to the legal system. 9 It is
these people who must be helped through free or near free
services by lawyers.
The next question is why there is in fact so little pro bono
given to the poor? I would venture that 90% of lawyers do not
give any time to pro bono. 10 And if an empirical study were made
of those who do give, the fundamental reason would be religious
or theological." Why has the Bar not done research in this
donating a specified amount to a charitable organization. See NEW MEXICO
RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT R. 16-601.
9 Roger C. Cramton, Delivery of Legal Services to OrdinaryAmericans, 44
CASE W. RES. L. REV. 531, 534-35 n.6 (1994) (explaining that Former President
Jimmy Carter observed that "[nlinety percent of our lawyers serve 10 percent of
our people. We are over-lawyered and under-represented."). Empirical studies
at both the state and national level find that a large percentage of the critical
legal needs of low income persons are not being met. See COMMITTEE To
IMPROVE THE AVAILABILITY OF LEGAL SERVICES, PreliminaryReport to the Chief
Judge of the State of New York 12 (1989); REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF
THE CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES COMMITTEE OF THE STATE BAR ASSOCIATION OF NORTH
DAKOTA AND THE NORTH DAKOTA TRIAL LAWYERS' ASSOCIATION AND THE NORTH
DAKOTA SUPREME COURT, A Workable Plan For Civil Legal Services For The
Poor: A Practical,Equitable And Political Proposal For Bar Leadership 17
(1988); see also Stephen Maher, No Bono: The Efforts of the Supreme Court of
Florida to Promote the Full Availability of Legal Services, 41 UNIV. MIAMI L.
REV. 973 (1996); Esther F. Lardent, Mandatory Pro Bono in Civil Cases: The
Wrong Answer to the Right Question, 49 MD. L. REV. 78, 86 (1990); MARYLAND
LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION ADVISORY COUNCIL, ACTION PLAN FOR LEGAL
SERVICES TO MARYLAND'S POOR (1988).
10 According to surveys done by the American Lawyer, large firms did a
median of 38.5 hours of pro bono work annually. See Jenna Greene,
PressingInHousers into Service, LEGAL TIMES, Nov. 30, 1998, at 7. By contrast, the leading
firm in the survey put in an average of 140 pro bono hours per attorney. See Id.
According to Cassie Diaz-Bello, assistant staff counsel for the Center for Pro
Bono of the ABA in Chicago, national data on actual pro bono hours worked by
individual attorneys is scarce. See Janet L. Conley, A Night of Agonizing Led
Edenfield to New Firm, FULTON COUNTY DAILY REPORT, Aug. 27, 1998.
According to a 1995 ABA survey, 17% of 895,700 attorneys surveyed did pro
bono work. Id. Most states do not have reporting requirements for bar
members. See id. A sampling of state survey's reveals: of the 8% of Georgia bar
members responding to a survey, 8% did pro bono work. See id. Half of the
Florida Bar responded to a survey revealing they worked an average of
thirtyfive pro bono hours a year. See id. In Kentucky, 12% of the bar responded,
revealing an average of forty-eight hours a year. See id.
11See Daniel 0. Conkle, Professing Professionals: Christian Pilots on the
respect and on a more basic question: if there is a serious moral
obligation to deliver free legal services to the poor, why do so few
lawyers give such time? And for those who do, what compels
them to do so?
The first and perhaps the most serious problem we face as
believing lawyers is the terrible weight of the culture, and indeed
of the profession itself as a product of that culture. For too many,
lawyering has become not a profession, but a trade which is
economically rewarding and where the bottom line and billable
hours seem to control all they do.12 This is not without its truth,
since if we cannot make a living, we can't survive in this world. 13
River of Law, 38 CATH. LAW. 151, 160-63 (1998) (commenting on how Christian
lawyers are driven by their faith to serve the poor); Panel Discussion, Can We
Find Common Ground As Religiously Committed Lawyers?, 26 FORDHAM URB.
L.J. 961, 973 (1999) (participant in a panel discussion stating that it is his faith
that drives his feeling of obligation to society and his pro bono service); see also
N. Lee Cooper, Remarks: Religion and the Lawyer, 66 FORDHAM L. REV. 1083,
12 See Susan Daicoff, Asking Leopards to Change Their Spots: Should
Lawyers Change? A Critique of Solutions to Problems with Professionalismby
Reference to Empirically-DerivedAttorney Personality Attributes, 11 GEO. J.
LEGAL ETHICS 547, 557-60 (1998) (citing increased numbers of lawyers, a
winat-all-costs mentality, lack of discipline, and failures in the legal education as
being amongst the reasons that the public opinion of attorneys and the legal
system is very low); Paul J. Kelly, Jr., Remarks:A Return of Professionalism,66
FORDHAM L. REV. 2091, 2096 (1998) (citing elements such as contingency fees
and joint and several liability as among the reasons that the legal profession is
now more like a trade); Walter H. Bennett, Jr. & Judith Welch Wegner, Law
Alumni Service to the Public and the Law School, 73 N.C. L. REV. 846, 873
(1995) (discussing the importance of the profession of law in our democratic
society and expressing concerns about its image and the abuse of billable
hours); Stephen Maher, supra note 9, at 993 (noting that the public service
component of the law is what distinguishes it as a profession, as opposed to a
13 See Allison Marston, Guiding the Profession: The 1887 Code of Ethics of
the Alabama State BarAssociation, 49 ALA. L. REV. 471, 477 (1998) ("We cannot
be blind to the fact that, however high may be the motives of some, the trend of
many is away from the ideals of the past, and the tendency more and more to
reduce our high calling to the level of a trade, to a mere means of livelihood, or
of personal aggrandizement.") (quoting 31 REPORT OF THE THIRTIETH MEETING OF
THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION, HELD AT PORTLAND, MAINE, Aug. 26-28, 1907,
at 682 (1907)); Philip J. Havers, Take the Money and Run: Inherent Ethical
Problems of the Contingency Fee and Loser Pays Systems, 14 NOTRE DAME J.L.
ETHICS & PUB. POLY 621, 625 (2000) ("Because of this large personal financial
stake, the attorney can no longer look upon his practice of law as one devoted
primarily to justice .... [Tihe system has given the lawyer a strong financial
interest in the claim and, as such, the attorney has become almost a separate
party in the litigation with his own interests and motivations.").
Lawsuits have become so expensive that few can afford them,
particularly at the high prices lawyers must charge for their
services (an average of $125 an hour).14 Without an eye to the
bottom line, a lawyer will soon be out of business.15 But this has
turned into an excuse so that the exception - a legitimate worry
about money and survival - has absorbed the rule, resulting in
too many law firms becoming dominated by economic factors
such as billable hours.16 And while many such firms take on pro
bono cases, the process seems to have little intellectual and
14 See Altman & Weil Releases Results: 1988 Survey of Law Firm
Economics, 51 TEX. B. J. 852, 852 (1988) ("For lawyers with six to 10 years of
practice, the average rate for those in firms with fewer than nine lawyers is
$101 per hour. For lawyers in firms of 75 or more lawyers, the average is $128
per hour."); see also Derek C. Bok, A Flawed System, HARv. MAG., 38, 40
(MayJune 1993) (stating that "the cost of hiring a lawyer... discourage[s most
people of modest means from trying to enforce their rights."); Duncan C. Smith,
Total Quality Leadership: Building Your Team, Keeping Your Clients, 19 L.
PRAC. MGMT. 34, 35 (1993) (naming the "failure to charge fair and reasonable
fees" as a reason for clients' dissatisfaction with their attorneys); Pre-PaidLegal
Services Announces Management Addition for Internet Development, PR
NEWSWIRE, Feb. 21, 2000. ("Most people... typically cannot afford current
lawyer fees that average over $160 per hour.").
15 See Jon Newberry, Securing the Future, A.B.A. J., April 1995, at 60-61
("[Miost lawyers cannot slow down, as some other professionals seem to be able
to do, because of intense economic pressure.. ."); see also Daicoff, supra note 12,
at 567 ('The more one works, the more money, prestige, and status one may
garner .... [An attorney's success] appears to be measured by money, prestige,
16 See Susan Daicoff, Lawyer, Know Thyself A Review of Empirical
Research on Attorney Attributes Bearing on Professionalism,46 AM. U. L. REV.
1337, 1344 (1997) (recognizing "the underlying theory that law has become a
'business' rather than a profession, placing a heightened emphasis on
materialism and money."); see also Laura Gatland, Dangerous Dedication,
A.B.A. J., Dec. 1997, at 28, 29 (noting the "increasingly high billable-hour
requirements" of "big firm associates."); Daicoff, supra note 12, at 557-58 (citing
"increased numbers of lawyers ... increased competition for clients. . .[and]
increased emphasis on money" as factors producing "an unbearable level of
competition and pressure in today's legal practice."); Patrick J. Schiltz, On
Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and
Unethical Profession, 52 VAND. L. REV. 871, 891-92 (1999) ("[Ain extensive
survey by Altman Weil Pensa, a prominent legal consulting firm, found that the
median number of billable hours for associates in firms of all sizes in 1995 was
1823; 25% of associates billed 1999 hours or more, and 10% billed at least 2166
17 Cf Deborah L. Rhode, Cultures of Commitment: Pro Bono for Lawyers
and Law Students, 67 FORDHAM L. REV. 2415, 2430 (April 1999).
Other extrinsic factors also influence the likelihood of volunteer
assistance. The rewards and costs of such involvement play the most
Admittedly, all these questions are difficult to resolve.
Collaterally, this economic pressure has made lawyers more
aggressive, more uncivil, and less cooperative.1s The profession
becomes unpleasant and "burn out" is common among lawyers.19
"Burn out" is another way of describing the loss of meaning and
significance that destroys the love and enthusiasm for what we
do.20 For there to be meaning in our profession, the work we do
must inherently make a difference in our lives.21
Flowing from this first difficulty is the second. The
profession, as a result of economics, has become much more
adversarial, seeking conflict rather than mediation and
obvious role. Volunteer work presents opportunities to gain
knowledge, skills, and personal contacts. It may also enhance a
person's reputation with peers and potential employers. Such
possibilities generally increase the attractiveness of volunteering.
Id. "For lawyers themselves, [pro bono] work is similarly important in giving
purpose and meaning to their professional lives." Id. at 2416; see, e.g., Charles
W. Wolfram et. al., Legal Ethics: An Informal Discussion on Legal Ethics, 2
HOFSTRA J. INST. STUD. LEGAL ETHIcS 427, 429 (1999) (Carol Langford, a private
practitioner, describes the necessary motivations for doing pro bono work by
stating that "[tihey have to get something for doing it. .. Otherwise, there is
not a lot of incentive to do it.").
18 See Daicoff, supra note 16, at 1422 (citing the economic pressures of
increased competition for clients and fees as leading to "competitive, aggressive,
hostile, and overreaching behavior in a tight market."); see also Gatland, supra
note 16, at 28 (stating that "[almong the pressures on lawyers are an emphasis
on productivity, the commercialization of law practice, lawyer incivility, feelings
of isolation, and decreased chances of making partner."); Daicoff, supra note 12,
at 549 (describing lawyers as "increasingly competitive, crass, commercial,
discourteous, and rude.").
19 See Newberry, supra note 15, at 60 (noting "a burn-out rate that makes
early retirement at times a medical necessity."). In fact, burn-out is so common
among lawyers that some states require lawyers, as a part of mandatory
continuing legal education, to take courses on stress and substance abuse. See,
e.g., Randy Lee, The Immutability of Faith and the Necessity of Action, 66
FORDHAM L. REV. 1455, 1458 n.27 (1998) (describing the California Bar
requirement that lawyers take at least one stress and substance abuse course
every three years).
20 See Nancy Blodgett, Lawyer's Rocky Mountain High, A.B.A. J., Mar.
1988, at 34 (defining lawyer burn-out as "the phenomenon experienced by
lawyers who have lost their zest for the practice of law."); Kurt M. Hughes,
F.R.I.E.D. (Fatigued,Rushed and Incredibly Edgy Disorder):Data'sCongestion,
25 VER. B. J. & L. DIG. 18 (1999) (defining lawyer burn-out as "an
21 See Daicoff, supra note 12, at 575 ("[L]awyers cannot possibly be
comfortable, happy, or fulfilled when they engage in behavior that conflicts with
their values."). "[Plerforming things against one's own interests and values
damages one's soul." Id. at 575 n.203 (citing to THOMAS MOORE, THE CARE OF
THE SOUL 185-88 (1995)).
conciliation.22 In our materialistic culture, clients are fired up by
reading about other huge sums awarded here and there for
sometimes the most trivial reasons. As a consequence, few
clients are happy with almost any monetary resolution. Greed
and materialism have infected the culture deeply.23 The search
for truth and the idea that justice may be done have been, in the
words of the lawyer for Beatrice Foods, Inc. in the movie A Civil
Action,24 left at the courtroom door the moment a lawsuit enters
the justice system. Therein lies the emptiness of any purely
secular reason for lawyering or for delivering legal services to the
22 See Daicoff, supra note 16, at 1425 (discussing how lawyers engage in
"Rambo litigation' tactics, in a desire to win, collect more legal fees, and attract
more clients."); see also Roger C. Cramton, Delivery of Legal Services to
OrdinaryAmericans, 44 CASE WES. RES. L. REV. 531, 610-11 (1994) (describing
the "fundamental conditions that have resulted in erosion of some aspects of
traditional professionalism."); Daicoff, supra note 12, at 550-51 (discussing
"Rambo-style litigation tactics, a win-at-all-costs mentality; [and] the
commercialization of the legal profession" as "evidence of the decline in
professionalism" among attorneys); Schiltz, supra note 16, at 889 (discussing
the "adversarial environment, 'in which aggression, selfishness, hostility,
suspiciousness, and cynicism are widespread.).
23 See Daicoff, supra note 16, at 1424 ("[Mlaterialism and financial
motivation are widespread in the legal profession.")(citations omitted); see also
Alexander W. Astin, PrelawStudents-A NationalProfile, 34 J. LEGAL EDUC. 73,
82 (1984) (reporting that "being very well-off financially" is "essential" or "very
important" to 65% of law students and 74% of prelaw students); Daicoff, supra
note 12, at 559 (naming "greed" as one of the "negative values. . . associated
with the legal profession" that make "practicing law . . . 'no longer fun.-).
24 See A CIVIL ACTION (Touchstone Pictures 1998). It should be noted that
some commentators argue that the cinematic, or "Hollywood" depiction of
lawyers has contributed to the decline of professionalism in the legal practice.
See, e.g., Daicoff, supra note 12, at 571-572.
Some believe that newer lawyers engage in unseemly conduct more
frequently because they believe their clients expect it of them,
because their ideas of lawyering have come from television and
movies, which often portray lawyers as vicious, and because they are
afraid, in these competitive times, that they will not be successful if
they do not behave in this way.
25 See Daicoff, supra note 16, at 1425 ("[L]awyers' materialism likely
discourages them from electing to do pro bono work and other nonlucrative
community service instead of working on paying, private clients' matters.");
Daicoff, supra note 12, at 559 ("Lack of time and competition are blamed for
lawyers' unwillingness to provide legal services to the poor or general public
service to the community."). "Increasing time spent on pro bono activities and
community service will conflict with the extreme billable hour quotas expected
of most lawyers in law firms." Id. at 570. In general, "[clommentators charge
that law has become too commercialized, too much a business, and too
The third and final difficulty of the profession is the complex
nature of procedural rules of evidence and admissibility.26 Such
requirements turn the legal profession into a treacherous mine
field so that one who does not observe every rule waives it. This
has destructive results on the search for truth and could result in
lawyer malpractice actions or disciplinary proceedings.27 What
was once the very heart of the profession, with just enough rules
to ensure notice and due process (truth seeking),28 is now reduced
to the procedural endurance of a huge morass of rules, deadlines,
answers, and waivers. 29 The result is that the search for truth
has been lost, while the procedural experts have become kings of
the legal realm. 30 Instead of a simplified set of rules for discovery
driven, which has led to greater potential for ethical difficulties." Daicoff, supra
note 16, at 1424.
26 See Jeffrey W. Stempel, A More Complete Look at Complexity, 40 ARIZ. L.
and evidence, the legal profession utilizes complex requirements
for the purposes of hiding, obfuscating, and papering-to-death, in
an effort to make the other side settle, even when such a result
would be neither just nor truthful.31 In other words, instead of
insuring a modicum of notice and due process, procedure has
effectively stifled the truth seeking and justice, which is at the
heart of the legal profession.32 Some states, such as Texas, 33 as
well as federal courts have begun to vastly simplify the discovery
process 34 but much remains to be done.
These difficulties today surround the practice of law for
every attorney, but in a sense they are difficulties that can be
resolved. Yet even if they are resolved, this still would not shed
light on the inherent problem of the spirituality (or if one wants a
more secular word, the meaning) of being a lawyer who deals in
the "goods" of truth and justice. Why become a lawyer at all in
light of such difficulties? After five to ten years most lawyers, as
evidenced in the North Carolina Bar poll, are so burnt out that
they would leave if they could.3s What does this tell us about the
and any mistake by the lawyer is less likely to come to light." Id. at 443.
31 See Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Ethics and the Settlements of Mass Torts:
When the Rules Meet the Road, 80 CORNELL L. REV. 1159, 1164-69 (1995)
(analyzing the ethical ramifications of a settlement in a class action tort suit
and concluding that settlements offend traditional notions of justice and
32 See William H. Simon, Ethical Discretion in Lawyering, 101 HARV. L.
REV. 1083, 1097-98 (1988) (noting that lawyers could promote justice by
assisting the fervent pursuit of their clients' interests but are unable to due to
the rigid nature of the procedural system); see also Committee on Profl Ethics
and Conduct of the Iowa State Bar Ass'n v. Behnke, 276 N.W.2d 838, 840 (Iowa
1979) (holding that a violation of an ethical consideration will normally support
33 See In re Alford Chevrolet-Geo, 997 S.W.2d 173, 182 (Tex. 1999)
(concluding that the primary objective of discovery is to guarantee that
controversies that arise are determined by what the facts reveal, not what they
34 See Windsor Indus., Inc. v. Pro-Team, Inc. 87 F. Supp. 2d. 1129, 1132 (D.
Colo. 2000) (stating that "duplicative discovery is neither economical nor
convenient."); Gardner v. Chrysler Corp., No. 91-1496-PFK, 1995 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 18015, at *18 (D. Kan. Nov. 1, 1995) (criticizing the plaintiffs motion for
further discovery as a "rambling and complex argument based on suspicion,
innuendo and unsupported accusations.").
35 See Harry T. Edwards, A New Vision for the Legal Profession, 72 N.Y.U.
L. REV. 567, 570-71 (1997) ("Modern law firm practice has disenchanted many
young lawyers. They see it as nothing more than a big money
enterpriseresulting in insane hours, tedious work, and sometimes questionable ethical
decisions."); see also Diane Vaksdal Smith, The HonorableKaren S. Metzger,
profession? What is so lacking in the practice of law that it does
this to lawyers? There are few other professions that could make
such a statement.
The short answer lies in a fundamental lack of any
spirituality of lawyering about the inherent nature of the
profession itself, a topic which is never addressed in law schools
or in Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses. 36 Most states
now require approximately fifteen hours of such education a year
to maintain a law license.37 Yet, in all fifteen years of practicing
law, I have never seen or heard of a CLE course addressing
lawyer burn-out and its causes, much less lawyer spirituality. I
believe that the difficulty lies here, but the Bar refuses to
address the issue for fear of sectarianism, church/state
implications, or simple embarrassment. But even the ABA is
beginning to see the problem and has set up a committee to
investigate this dimension. 38
THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATIONS OF LAWYERING
From the perspective of the ends of the profession, there is
ColoradoCourt ofAppeals, 71 DENV. U. L. REV. 27, 32 (noting the burn-out
among lawyers these days); Hon. Carl Horn, Restoringthe Foundations:12
Steps Toward PersonalFulfillment in the Practiceof Law, SOUTH CAROLINA
LAWYER (September 1998) availableat
http://www.scbar.org/SC-Lawyer/1998/1998_SeptemberOctober/SCLarticlesSeptember-October 1998 article_4.htm.
36 See Lucia Ann Silecchia, supra note 2, at 192-93 (2000) (stating that law
students do not acquire the spiritual perspective in school that is so vital to
their future careers).
37 See AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION, ABA Center for Continuing Legal
Education: Summary of MCLE State Requirements, available at http://www.
abanet.org/cle/mcleview.html (Oct. 6, 2000) (summarizing the MCLE
requirements for all states that require it); see also N.Y. COMP. CODES R. &
REGS. tit. 22 § 1500.22(a) (1999) (explaining that the minimum continuing legal
education requirement for attorneys is 24 credit hours for each biennial cycle);
STATE BAR OF TEXAS, Texas MCLE Regulations, available at
http://www.texasbar.com.attyinfo.mcle/regulations.html (Oct. 6, 2000) (setting
forth in section 3.0 that the minimum continuing legal education requirement
for attorneys is 15 hours per year); Wash. St. Reg. 00-09-016, Rule 11.2(a)
(2000) (setting forth that the minimum continuing legal education requirement
for attorneys is 45 hours for every three years).
38 See Sherry M. Karabin, Love It Or Leave It: Dissatisfied Lawyers Are
Seeking Stress Outlets - and New Careers,A.B.A. SEC. GEN. PRAC. 6 (1989); see
generally Carl Horn, Redefining Lawyers' Work: Twelve Steps Toward Personal
Fulfillment in Law Practice, 25 A.B.A. LAW PRAC. MANAGEMENT 36 (October
no profession that is more noble or sublime in the natural order
than the practice of law, since its ultimate goal is to seek truth so
that justice may be done. 39 What this is, is an implicit search for
God and for the eternal.40 How so?
Even those who do not accept my thesis that it is God who
makes us one can readily accept the conclusion I have come to:
that the seeking of God and/or meaning in life, the desire for true
freedom, the passionate search for truth and justice - all these
spiritual dimensions are part of all religions in a very basic
sense. 41 These deep aspirations may serve as a widening basis
for a meaningful practice of law for all.42
In other words, my conclusions as to the implicit search for
these deepest aspirations have universal and ecumenical
applications to all religions.43 Perhaps they are applicable even
to those who have no sense of religion, but who desire to be
decent human beings in the practice of law and to escape the
of law through
lineism, and the winning/losing phenomenon so common in the
39 See Andrew R. Herron, Comment: Collegiality, Justice and the Public
Image: Why One Lawyer's PleasureIs Another's Poison, 44 U. MIAMI L. REV.
807, 813 (1990) ("ITihe lawyer's duty to advance his client's interests must be
subordinated to the ultimate goal of truth-seeking which brought the
relationship into being.").
40 See Michelle L. Mack, Note, Religious Human Rights and the
International Human Rights Community: Finding Common Ground-Without
Compromise, 13 NOTRE DAME J.L. ETHICS & PUB. POLY 455, 480 n.99 (1999)
("[Olbjectively speaking, the search for truth and the search for God are one and
the same.") (quoting POPE JOHN PAUL II, If You Want Peace, Respect the
Conscienceof Every Person (Jan. 1, 1991) (Message of His Holiness for the XXIV
World Day Of Peace).
41 See Rodney
K. Smith, The Role of Religion In Progressive
Constitutionalism,4 WIDENER L. SYMP. J. 51, 77 (1999) (discussing how people
of many religions search their sacred texts to uncover truths that can be relied
42 See Silecchia, supra note 2, at 174 ("[Bloth professionals and those they
serve derive substantial benefits when spirituality shapes service and
practice."); see also Jack L. Sammons, Jr. & Linda H. Edwards, Honoring the
Law in Communities of Force: Terrell and Wildman's Teleology of Practice, 41
EMORY L. J. 489, 494-95 n.14 (1992) (discussing how Georgian lawyers in the
early twentieth century integrated morals, such as the search for truth and
justice, into the practice of law and thereby created harmony between their
individualism and professionalism).
43 See Warren K. Anderson, Jr., Ecumenical Cosmology, 27 TEX. TECH. L.
REV. 983, 984 (1996) (describing the new universe as a common sense wisdom
which can be shared by all traditions and how this common sense wisdom gives
us a sense of interconnectedness).
legal profession. 4 The basic thrust of every human being that
makes us profoundly human in the first place is a solidarity in
the search for these values and aspirations which are spiritual in
nature,45 i.e. they cannot be exhausted but are infinite in reach.
This endeavor is as valid for non-believers as it is for believers in
God because in the search for these values we meet each other at
the most profound depths of our humanity."
Believers go further
in faith and
believe that this foundation
of our being is a
mystery, whom for lack of a better word, we call God. 7
if non-believers cannot go so far, they and we are agreed on the
values themselves. 48
The lawyer's work is therefore really the very work of the
Spirit who raises our hearts to seek truth and justice with all our
being, since truth is only another
word for God.49
"not along side of' the profession but
implied in its very nature.5 0 In conscientiously doing our work as
lawyers, we energize the work of the Spirit precisely by seeking
44 See Silecchia, supra note 2, at 186-90 (discussing how a kind of
spirituality can increase lawyers' satisfaction with their work); see also Calvin
G.C. Pang, Eyeing The Circle: Finding a Place for Spirituality in Law School
Clinic, 35 WILLAMETTE L. REV. 241, 270 (1999) ("[Slpirituality in ...the work of
lawyers would... affirm that the professional activities of... lawyers can
transcend narrow, mechanical, self-interested concerns and become
45 See Pang, supra note 44, at 260-61 ("[Olur spirituality is the animating
dimension of our humanity ....It points us toward something higher, orienting
us toward virtue and the search for transcendent meaning and purpose.").
46 See Melissa M. Weldon, Honoring the Spirit in the Law: A Lawyer's
Confession of Faith, 26 FORDHAM URB. L.J. 1167, 1171-72 (1999) (discussing
how the author reconciles her work as an attorney and her religious beliefs "by
being truly present for others").
47 See Samuel J. Levine, supra note 1, at 1202-05 (discussing how an
Orthodox Jew seeks to incorporate spirituality into his daily works as a lawyer);
see also Weldon, supra note 46, at 1171-72.
48 See Gordon L. Gray, Personal Values Within Our Profession, 38 CATH.
LAW. 279, 284 (1998) ("[Plersons of all faiths (or even without religious faith)
49 See Michael P. Schutt, What's a Nice Christian Like You Doing in a
ProfessionLike This?, 11 REGENT U. L. REV. 137, 142-44 (1999) (discussing how
a Christian can maintain his faith and practice in the legal profession by
reforming the system so that it reflects a moral view of process and the
50 See Timothy W. Floyd, The Practiceof Law as a Vocation or Calling,66
FORDHAM L. REV. 1405, 1409 (1998) ("God cannot be compartmentalized into the
religious sphere of our lives while being irrelevant in our work lives. We simply
cannot relegate our obligations to God and neighbor to the 'nonlawyer' parts of
truth so that justice may be done.5' This is not only spiritual
work, but also the spiritualization of our work, if we approach it
prayerfully, with integrity, and honesty, knowing that each client
who approaches us is our brother and sister and is owed our
dedication and talents if we choose to accept him or her as a
client.52 We thereby cooperate with the Spirit in the world to
render this justice visible and real, which is the very core of why
we are lawyers in the first place.53 There is tedium in that work,
as with every form of work, coming from demanding clients,
incivility of other lawyers, the arbitrariness of some judges, the
demands of money to survive, and the painful choice of good and
bad cases (not just lucrative/non lucrative cases).54
Such a spirituality can add a joyful dimension to lawyering
as well as elevate it to a true inherent spirituality in what we do
When reflected on in this
way, lawyering can
become a vocation and not just a profession, or worse, a job.56
51 See John L. Cromartie, Jr., Reflections on Vocation, Calling,Spirituality
and Justice, 27 TEX. TECH L. REV. 1061, 1061-62 (1996) (the author discusses
how legal aid work and working for justice helped him gain spirituality and
faith commitment, which in turn convinced him to embrace religion).
52 See JOSEPH G. ALLEGRETTI, THE LAWYER'S CALLING: CHRISTIAN FAITH AND
LEGAL PRACTICE 37 (1996) (discussing how the relationship between a lawyer
and his client is extraordinary and unique---"two people, each a child of God,
each sinful yet redeemed, come together and for better or for worse each is
moved and shaped and changed by the other").
53 See Charles R. DiSalvo & William L. Droel, Reflections on the Contents of
the Lawyer's Work Three Models of Spirituality-andOur Struggle With Them,
27 TEX. TECH L. REV. 1069, 1070 (1996) (describing a study of how lawyers
understand the relationship between their work and faith. The authors propose
three models of spirituality to answer the question "Who is your employer?"
"The client is my employer." "God is my employer." and "I am my employer.");
see also Panel Discussion, Models of Successful "Religion and Lawyering"
Programs, 26 FORDHAM URB. L. J. 917, 923-28 (1999) (Professor Joseph
Allegretti discussing his experience with lawyers who are facing a crisis of
meaning or identity in their work - "a spiritual crisis").
54 See Joseph G. Allegretti, Neither Curse Nor Idol: Towards A Spirituality
of Work for Lawyers, 27 TEX. TECH L. REV. 963, 965 (1996) (describing how law
should be thought of as a calling rather than a curse so that we may pursue a
career in law to serve God in and through our work for the rest of our lives).
55 See ALLEGRETTI, supra note 52, at 35.
56 See id; see also Joseph A. Morris, PersonalValues and the Characterof
the Lawyer, 8 CATH. LAW. 241, 244 (1998) (arguing that it is inherent in the
vocation of a lawyer to "root out injustice and oppression from our world.").