by Bruce D. Strom
No joke. This is the cover of November’s American Bar Association Journal. While the article addresses fears relating to work performance, I think it applies with stronger force to pro bono. Today also happens to be national “Love your Lawyer Day.” I’m really not making this stuff up.
In 2001 a group of lawyers with the ABA began national “love your lawyer day” on the first Friday of every November. The need for such a day is rooted in a 2013 Pew Research Report ranking lawyers last among top ten professions for “contributions to society”; in a 2014 Gallup poll that gives lawyers only a 21% favorable rating for honesty and integrity; and our negative portrayal in the media.
There is an easy solution to this problem and it is not neighbors love your lawyer – it is lawyer love your neighbor. If more lawyers did that we would make significant contributions to society and our favorable ratings would go up. So why don’t we do it? Fear.
Lawyers love to think through all the reasons why we can’t do pro bono – not enough time, not enough expertise, not enough (fill in the blank). But why operate out of such scarcity. We are some of the smartest, most successful, people on planet Earth. Don’t tell me we don’t have enough to turn our pledge of justice for all into a promise.
This is especially true of Christ followers. Do we really believe God is not sufficient to meet all our needs? Do you think he gave you unique insight into legal problems just so you could make money? Or is it possible that He wants you to make a difference with those gifts? It’s time to put on the full armor of God and stand firm in His promises. Stop shaking in your armor. Take up the shield of faith.
You are an esquire. The postnominal of our profession means shield bearer. Pick up your shield and protect the vulnerable. If you want to turn feelings of dread into positive action then stop thinking of yourself, think of others. This is not about YOUR expertise, YOUR time, YOUR ability. This is about following YOUR Jesus to the poor and vulnerable. He came not to be served, but to serve.
So if you want to love your lawyer, share this post with her and encourage her to love her neighbor. She does not have to do this alone. We want to make this easy. We have all the tools, support, training and team needed so the lawyer does not do justice alone. Four hours a month is what we ask. Four hours to make a significant contribution to society AND make a Kingdom difference. Share this video of one lawyer’s story.
We have unprecedented opportunity to make a difference. Still doubt? Consider Helen and Tom. Life was great until they both were diagnosed with cancer. If the fear of the disease was not enough, chemo kept them from work and with neither working their home quickly fell into foreclosure. They tried to explain the situation to the bank but were pushed from one department to the next. No one cared. No one listened. An auction date was fast approaching. Would they be homeless? Imagine the fear. Then someone told them of a gospel justice center where they could meet a lawyer. They were warmly welcomed by a team and the lawyer actually prayed for them! People listened. They cared. A huge weight was lifted from their shoulders. The lawyer placed a call. Just being a lawyer cut through the red tape and allowed a compromise to be reached which added time for them to finish treatment, get back on their feet and refinance the home. Today they are not homeless, they are no longer helpless, and – yes – they love their lawyer. Why? Because the lawyer took the time to demonstrate love and compassion to a neighbor in need.
Lawyers, is our fear of inadequacy anything compared to the crushing fear of legal burdens faced by our low-income neighbors? I don’t think so. Let’s turn feelings of dread into positive action. Let’s listen to Jesus, love our neighbor, and
Go and Do Likewise!