Soul Care For Lawyers

David McIlroy

David McIlroy

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Lawyers, like everyone else, need Jesus. But as lawyers, we need Jesus for particular reasons. In every new social situation I find myself in, I want to announce to people “I’m a lawyer” even before people have asked the inevitable question “What do you do?” The words are ready to spring from my lips because for many lawyers, like many medical professions, being a lawyer is not just what I do, it is, in important ways, who I am.

Here are three important ways in which I am a lawyer.

  1. I am a lawyer in that the law is what I spend most of my time doing and what preoccupies my thoughts of my time. Even when I am watching television, taking a shower or doing any other activity in my spare time which does not demand my full attention, my brain is still thinking about my cases and looking for that killer argument.
  2. I am a lawyer in that I find so much of my social status, and if I admit it, my self-worth and my identity in the fact that I am able to sustain a successful career as a lawyer. This fact was abruptly brought home to me when a recent health scare forced me to entertain (if only for a moment) the idea of giving up the law and doing something else. Because my status as a lawyer and my identity as a human being are so closely interconnected, it is no surprise that lawyers are prepared to work themselves to death to reach the top of the profession, to feel profoundly lost when their status is reduced to that of an “ex-lawyer” and to be so likely to commit suicide if their legal career ends in disgrace or self-assessed failure.
  3. I am a lawyer in that I think like a lawyer. They tell you at University and Law School that they are teaching you the law: they aren’t. Most of the law you learn by rote from the textbooks you will never use in practice (I’ve never had to draft a half-secret trust or to spend ages thinking about whether there was or was not good consideration for a particular contract) or is out of date by the time you need to look it up again. What they are doing to you when they teach you the law is they are re-wiring your brain. They are teaching you a way of approaching, analysing and responding to the world.

 

In this blog series, I am going to explore with you how to recognise the ways that we have been programmed to think as lawyers and how to cut such thinking down to size (2 Corinthians 10:5); how we can learn to find our identity in Christ (Galatians 4:6-7), and how a healthy pattern of rest is essential to keep the Law from taking over our lives (Exodus 20:8). The key passage of Scripture which will be accompanying us through these reflections in Colossians chapter 2.

I am contractually obliged to point out (says my wife) that I am far from having got these issues nailed down in my own life. What I offer you are desiderata, glimpses of a fulfilment I have seen but by no means attained.

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