Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Fordham Law Review

Publication Date

3-1998

Abstract

There is a familiar story about three stonemasons, each of whom is asked what he is doing. The first replies, "I am making a wall." The second says, "I am helping to construct a building." The third answers, "I am helping to build a great cathedral to celebrate the glory of God."

What if we asked the same question of three lawyers, "What are you doing?" The first might reply, "I am trying a case." The second, "I am serving my client." And the third, "I am participating in the administration of justice."

I think we would all agree that there is a significant progression in the self-defining responses of the stonemasons. But how about the lawyers' answers? Is it clear that there is a progression-in religious terms-in the way the lawyers see themselves? The Bible tells us: "Justice, justice shalt thou follow . . . ." The third lawyer, then, is fulfilling a religious precept by participating in the pursuit of justice. But what about the second lawyer? Is his function any less significant, religiously? If we take seriously the injunction, "[L]ove thy neighbor as thyself," then it seems to me that the simple service of one's client is the essence of religion, as well as of justice. Professor Leslie Griffin has written, "If too much emphasis is given to the lawyer's theological beliefs, the lawyer may lose sight of her client's interests." I would rephrase that to say, "If a lawyer loses sight of her client's interests, she has almost certainly lost sight of her theological beliefs as well."

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