In reality we are all pretty dispensable at the end of the day. Legal workplaces keep going when lawyers leave, and clients can always find another lawyer fairly easily in the competitive legal market. This might make us feel discouraged. No matter how talented or successful we might be, the legal world will likely barely register a shudder when we leave. If we are so dispensable, what is the point of all of the hard work that we put in, and all of the stress and pressure that we endure?
I’d like to suggest that being dispensable should not discourage us, but actually help us to enjoy our work.
Love may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think of lawyers. For most people, love and lawyers seem distant companions. But for Christian lawyers this should not be the case.
The Hebrew Scriptures insist that God’s commitment to justice is as fundamental to His character as is God’s holiness, love and faithfulness. What does this mean for us as Christian lawyers?
What does success look like for a lawyer? If you’re a solicitor like me, there are a number of ways to measure it. We could consider promotion, financial earnings, successful networking, among other elements. The question is, how should we as Christian lawyers measure success?
More than information alone, lawyers need judgement in order to know what to do with it all. It is no small feat to assimilate a lot of information, and then advise a client how best to use that information in their case… All of these complexities point to the need for something deeper than knowledge, and which finesses judgement. The Bible calls this “wisdom” – knowing how to respond well to the people and situations we face.
Lawyers are perhaps not the best at pacing themselves or deciding when enough is enough. The profession is renowned for its long hours, punishing workloads and unending demands. And outside of “proper” work, there are a large number of demands. We lawyers need to reorient ourselves toward our busyness.
An important aspect of the creation in Genesis chapter 1 is the process of God bringing order out of chaos, and clarity out of flux. A lot of the work lawyers do is about bringing about order. I suspect that many of you, like me, who have practised law for some time have become jaded.
Imposter syndrome for a lawyer can be described as the feeling that you are an imposter in your legal practice, not deserving of your place and less talented than everyone else. Fearful of being found out as a fraud, you work especially hard and strive to overachieve in order to stay in the game and not be found out. It’s a powerful driver, but one that is desperately toxic. It is also one that is biblically untrue.
I am a lawyer because the law is what I spend my time doing. Practising law is like constantly revising for exams; there are always deadlines to meet. The relief of completing a deadline is immediately replaced either by the next deadline or by worrying about finding the next client.
It feels as if the law never sleeps.
To be a lawyer is to have power, prestige and privilege. We exude this from the suits we wear to work, we command it by our control of reasoning and language, we acquire it through our ability to organise. As we enter and progress in the profession, being a lawyer feeds our needs to feel significant, to be respected, and to think well of ourselves.