December 28, 2009

A Dress Code for Christian Lawyers: Timeless Fashion Tips

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. - Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

What are you wearing to the law office in 2010?

Here's some timeless fashion advice for Christian lawyers striving to make the ultimate best dressed list, what to put on, what to take off:

Put on: Compassion
Take off: Self-centered "me first" stuff

Put on: Kindness
Take off: Meanness, pettiness, bitchiness, attitude

Put on: Humility
Take off: Pride, fantasies of always being right, bloated self-esteem

Put on: Gentleness
Take off: Arrogance, bossiness, manipulativeness, head-games, control-freak tactics, physical domination, violence

Put on: Patience
Take off: Anger, grudges, bitterness

And the one must-have accessory, the one essential thing to tie your whole look together?

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. - Colossians 3:14 (NIV)

Put on: Love

Which ripped, stained, worn, out-of-style clothes will you pitch from your legal wardrobe in 2010?

December 22, 2009

Christian Lawyer: Do you know what race you're running?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. - Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

Call it a mission, a vision, a purpose, a road map, whatever. The name doesn't matter, but having it does. Without a plan for your career as a Christian lawyer, you risk finding yourself lost or spinning in circles of meaninglessness.

The stakes are high. The temptations are strong. So now's the time to invest in some serious prayer and conversation to work out a simple set of parameters to guide you through your Christian legal career in freedom and victory.

A few years ago, I prayerfully developed this vision for myself:

To be a lawyer busily engaged in a unique, highly visible, evangelistic ministry of speaking, teaching, and writing which encourages, equips, and challenges people to incorporate Biblical Christian values and perspectives into their life decisions.

Simple as it sounds, I can't adequately express what a profound and powerful impact this statement has had on my entire life and career. It serves as a filter, to help me weed out all those demands (both the good and the bad) that detract from my core mission, and as a reality check, to force me into positive action.

What helps (or hinders) your vision for life as a Christian lawyer?

December 12, 2009

The 7 Things Lawyers are Afraid to Say

Call it cultural conditioning, call it arrogance, call it survival, but there are seven things lawyers are afraid to say. What happens if you break these taboos? We're going to find out, but first read the list:

1) I don't know.

2) I was wrong.

3) I'm terrified.

4) I've never done this before.

5) I don't have enough work.

6) Other stuff is more important to me than my legal career.

7) I'm not the smartest person in the room.

Now, go back and read the list again, only this time, say each phrase aloud, in your normal speaking voice. No "saying it in your head" or whispering under your breath. Say the words, like you mean them.

After you've done this, please comment. Not before. If you don't do this, you're not allowed to comment.

What was it like?

December 10, 2009

Top Legal Blogs: Christian Edition

"No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a washtub or shoves it under the bed. No, you set it up on a lamp stand so those who enter the room can see their way. We're not keeping secrets; we're telling them. We're not hiding things; we're bringing everything out into the open. So be careful that you don't become misers of what you hear. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes." - Luke 8:16-18 (The Message)

Avvo's closely watched Top Legal Blogs daily updates a growing master list of 418 blawgs based on moving 30-day averages of their Alexa traffic rankings.

On today's Avvo list, only five of the 22 blawgs of interest for Christian lawyers to which I link under my "Of Counsel" heading on the right sidebar of this blawg are included: Religion Clause - #96; Is There a Lawyer in the Church? - #349 (mine, for non-lawyers); Shark and Shepherd - #352; The Center Blog - #364; and Ninomania - #401. This blawg, The Believer's Guide to Legal Issues, also appears, at #382.

Fellow Christian blawgers, don't hide your light! Avvo provides an email address, customercare@avvo.com, for you to inquire about adding your own blawg to the Top Legal Blogs list. Both times I've contacted Avvo to add one of my blawgs, the process was as simple as sending the email and the listing was added within 24 hours.

Are there other blawg ranking sites you find useful? 

Other blawgs specially relevant to Christian lawyers I should consider linking here? 

December 7, 2009

Political Correctness in the Balance: Law Student Group Gains Supreme Court Review of Alleged Anti-Christian Discrimination by UC Hastings

Christian legal fellowship groups provide a vital spiritual lifeline for law students trying to survive the rigors of law school with faith intact. Most of the more than 150 such student groups at U.S. law schools (see my lower sidebar list of links) are sponsored by the Christian Legal Society (CLS). But the ability of these groups to continue functioning at public universities has been in doubt since the University of California Hastings College of the Law's recent refusal to recognize its CLS chapter. The law school objects to the group's requirement that officers and voting members subscribe to Christian beliefs.

In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez the district judge ruled in favor of the law school. CLS appealed, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit refused to reverse. CLS then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, in a press release issued by its Center for Law & Religious Freedom, CLS announced that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

From the Center's press release: “Public universities shouldn’t single out Christian student groups for discrimination. All student groups have the right to associate with people of like-mind and interest,” said Senior Counsel Kim Colby with the CLS Center for Law & Religious Freedom. “We trust the Supreme Court will not allow Hastings to continue to deprive CLS of this right by forcing the group to abandon its identity as a Christian student organization.”

CLS has posted links to the full set of litigation documents and related materials.

Have you encountered anti-Christian bias as a lawyer or law student?

December 6, 2009

It's Sunday: You Get the Day Off!

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don't do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day. - Exodus 20:8-11 (The Message)

I receive the Sabbath as a gift from God, a blessing I've learned to accept with deep gratitude.

For me, this means no legal work on Sundays.

Is this always easy? No. Are there Sundays when the gravity of my upcoming week looms urgently? Yes. Have I ever regretted deferring even the most pressing tasks until Monday morning? No.

I don't see the Sabbath as a legalistic thing. I'm not saying you should be wracked with guilt if you check your office email or ponder a case plan on a Sunday afternoon. I've done that a few times myself. In general though, I've learned not to go there, because it spoils the gift.

Honoring the Sabbath opens the day for worship, learning, serving, family, and just plain pausing to appreciate all God has done. God knows we need this. He tells us we need this. And he gives this to us.

I credit Sabbath-keeping in large part for a 22-year legal career in which I'm still relatively enthusiastic about the practice of law and looking forward to decades more. And I credit Sabbath-keeping in large part for my close relationships with God, my family, and my church family.

How do you embrace the gift of the Sabbath?

December 3, 2009

The law profs have a verdict, but what say you, practicing lawyer? Essential reads for Christian law students

Over at Redeeming Law there's a new Essential Law Student Reading List, assembled via informal poll of Christian law professors. It's a great list, I'm sure, but quite honestly way over my head. Law professors must always display their immense intellectual fire power, and their list is explosive, if you like long difficult reads.

As for me, of the more than 50 impressive titles listed, I've read only six (only five if you don't count the Bible).

Two decades into law practice, I'm to the point where I can barely focus long enough to read an overly wordy blog post. The chances of me reading too many more of the law professor-endorsed essential books are pretty slim. But I still love to read and learn. Even in chunks bigger than 140 characters. And I know many law students still like to read too.

So I'm wondering, what would my fellow practicing Christian lawyers consider essential reads for law students? What are the "must read" books and blogs to help law students successfully integrate their Christian faith with the practice of law?

From the law prof list, there are two I strongly endorse: Allegretti's classic The Lawyer's Calling and Schutt's more recent Redeeming Law. Both are encouraging and reasonably accessible.


What reads do you recommend?

December 2, 2009

I'm having fun practicing law because...

A few key steps I've taken over the years to make practicing law not only tolerable, but reasonably fun:

1. Embrace RISK (like choosing to leave secure but constraining partnership)

2. Exercise DISCRETION (like saying "no" to bad cases and bad clients, where bad is however you define bad)

3. Maintain INTEGRITY (like being the same person in the law office as everywhere else, including home and church)

4. Be INTENTIONAL (like making time for activities and pursuits more important to you than lawyering, no matter what)

5. Humble yourself in PRAYER (like when the challenges you face seem too overwhelming, or you start thinking you can do it all on your own) 

What helps keep law practice fun for you?

December 1, 2009

With CLE topics like this, it's no wonder lawyers are depressed

Why do so many attorneys struggle with mental health issues like depression?

The possible causes are many: pressure, deadlines, competition, burnout, etc. Or maybe it's just CLE?

I opened a promotional mailer today from the good folks at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (and they really are good folks - I've been privileged to serve on their faculty a couple of times) and was greeted with these uplifting CLE course options:

The Dead Man's Rule 

Death and Taxes

Hot Topics in Oil and Gas Law

Seriously, I don't care who you are or how happy you were, if you spent three days attending this trio of seminars, you'd be reaching for the anti-depressants!

What less-than-exhilarating CLE topics are being offered in your jurisdiction?

November 28, 2009

God Banished from the Courtroom? Not Here

With so many in the legal profession working diligently to unfasten the law from its Judeo-Christian moorings, it's encouraging to realize just how tough their job is. Reminders of our deep religious heritage remain integral parts of the everyday legal landscape. Consider this intriguing provision of current Pennsylvania law, said to be derived from our 1772 colonial statutes:

42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes § 5901. Judicial oath.

(a) General rule.--Every witness, before giving any testimony shall take an oath in the usual or common form, by laying the hand upon an open copy of the Holy Bible, or by lifting up the right hand and pronouncing or assenting to the following words: "I, A. B., do swear by Almighty God, the searcher of all hearts, that I will   *, and that as I shall answer to God at the last great day." Which oath so taken by persons who conscientiously refuse to take an oath in the common form shall be deemed and taken in law to have the same effect as an oath taken in common form.

(b) Right to affirm.--The affirmation may be administered in any judicial proceeding instead of the oath, and shall have the same effect and consequences, and any witness who desires to affirm shall be permitted to do so.

[*statute leaves a blank for insertion of appropriate action, typically "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth"]

Almighty God, the searcher of all hearts! As I shall answer to God at the last great day! Shocking language in this era of militant political correctness. While some want to make God a fugitive from justice, in reality he's still very much a legal insider.

What evidence of the strong biblical foundation of our American legal system do you encounter in your practice?

November 21, 2009

Lifeline for Law Students: Master List of 155 Christian Fellowship & Christian Legal Society Law School Chapters

As a Christian believer, how do you survive the relentless law school pressure cooker? How do you rise above the cuttthroat competition and anti-Christian bias so prevalent at most secular law schools? Is it even possible for a Christian to successfully emerge from three years of law school with faith intact?

Last month, I wrote a post, Future Lawyers: Christian Law School Options, listing eleven law schools which at least purport to honor and uphold a Judeo-Christian worldview in their approach to legal education. But with hundreds of secular law schools enrolling thousands of law students across the U.S., attendance at an institution teaching law from a God-honoring perspective isn't a realistic option for every Christ-following law student.

Fortunately, through the good and diligent ministry of the Christian Legal Society (CLS) and others, more than 150 American law schools have either a law student CLS chapter or some other organized law student Christian fellowship on campus. These faithful bands of fellow-believers provide a lifeline of support, prayer, and encouragement for Christian law students tossed and tumbled in the storms of law school life.

On the lower right sidebar of my blawg, I've posted my updated master list of links to the 155 campus chapters of Christian law student groups I've identified in my research. (Please feel free to offer corrections, updates and additions!)

Law school can be a dark and dangerous place for believers. The light and love of God arising from a Christian legal fellowship can help you overcome the darkness and danger!

November 16, 2009

Are You a Generic Lawyer?

I was in a motel while visiting Pittsburgh and, as I often do, decided to look through the local Yellow Pages for disturbing or quirky lawyer ads. One that caught my eye wasn't disturbing, but was certainly quirky. It was attorney Norma Chase's "Generic Lawyer" ad (left). In fact, as it turns out, Ms. Chase has an entire (albeit very simple) Generic Lawyer website. And I'm sure she is an excellent lawyer, and creative too. This is not about her.

My question is for Christian believers practicing law. Are you presenting yourself to the public and your peers as a generic lawyer? Are you intentionally making your practice indistinguishable from those of the multitudes of generically secular lawyers? Are you keeping your faith hidden? Or are you boldly offering the full counsel of God, the unique perspective an informed Christian faith brings to the legal realm?

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. - Matthew 13-16 (NIV)

November 10, 2009

Every Christian Lawyer's Got a Career Crisis Story. Here's Mine. What's Yours?

Preface (excerpted from The Believer's Guide to Legal Issues)

Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. — PSALM 127:1

It was a summer night in Philadelphia, July 10, 1998. My knees ached against the concrete as I prayed, wedged between the front of my own folded stadium seat and the seatbacks of the row below.

The space wasn’t designed for prayer. Perfect, maybe, for standing to cheer a touchdown run or a long drive to deep left field, but not an ideal place for a grown man to drop to his knees and pray. Yet there I was, with 40,000 of my brothers in Christ, all kneeling awkwardly but reverently, in silence on the stadium floor.

I had been struggling intensely for almost a year, wrestling with God over a major decision. As the weekend of the Promise Keepers stadium conference approached, I prayed that God would somehow use this event to answer my prayers, to reveal his will to me in a clear, understandable way.

Even on the hundred-mile bus ride to the stadium, I continued to pray that this might be the weekend. Still, I wasn’t prepared for the speed or clarity with which God would speak to me that night in Philadelphia.

It was only the first evening of the two-day conference. The man who asked us to get on our knees was only the first of more than a half dozen speakers lined up for the weekend. And yet, as he led us in those moments of prayer, there it was.

It wasn’t something the speaker said. It wasn’t an audible voice. It wasn’t even phrased as a direct response to the question I’d been wrestling with. But it was totally clear, almost insistent in its clarity. It was the unmistakable voice of God. The words were as thunderous as they were quiet. I had my answer: “YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO.”

I’d been a born-again believer in Jesus Christ for nearly nine years and a practicing lawyer for almost eleven. At first, the two seemed entirely compatible. But as the Holy Spirit steadily cleansed my heart over the years, a tension gradually began to build. By 1997, that tension was maturing into a full-blown spiritual crisis. Could I, as a Christian, continue to make my living in a profession that seemed to embrace a value system entirely contrary to the teachings of Jesus?

So I began to pray and struggle. I was a partner in one of the largest and most well-respected law firms in our county. The men and women I worked with were good, honest, and decent folks. Many were even Christians. The financial compensation was excellent and the future, by all accounts, was secure. But it was a secular firm practicing law from the same worldly perspective as a thousand other firms across the country. Nothing illegal or improper, but certainly no intentional focus on incorporating Christian values into legal practice.

On one hand, I sensed God calling me to do something radical. While I had a good measure of freedom at the law firm, still there were unspoken rules of conformity and a conventional secular approach was expected. The firm was simply not the place to experiment with an entirely new way of practicing law. Further, it wasn’t yet clear to me whether God was actually calling me to become a “Christian lawyer” or if he was, instead, calling me to leave the legal profession altogether for a ministerial vocation.

On the other hand, I had a wife and three young children to support. Did it make sense to put them at economic risk to pursue a somewhat vague and uncertain path? And if I left the law firm, wouldn’t that be taking the easy way out? Shouldn’t I just buck up and try to be a witness for Christ where I was?

The questions kept multiplying. Would leaving the firm be disloyal to my partners? Or would staying on when my heart was elsewhere actually be more disloyal? Was it possible to become an overtly Christian lawyer, or would I merely be trading on the name of Christ for financial gain? Could I even make a living at all as a Christian lawyer? My mind was racing. What did God really want me to do? Many times over I’d convince myself to hold steady on the course, only to find all the questions rushing back within months, or weeks, or even days.

By early 1998, I was beginning to drive my very patient wife and myself to frustration. At some point, she temporarily “banned” me from discussing the topic with her any further, to give us a much needed break. But as the year slipped by and the date for that summer’s Promise Keepers event eased closer, I began to gain a sense of hope that perhaps, at long last, a decision would finally be at hand.

And so it was that I found myself listening to God speak to me that hot July night in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. The uncertainty and doubt had been instantaneously removed. Thanks be to God, I knew what I had to do. From that night on, it was simply a matter of finding the courage to do it. I would start a Christian law practice.

And when the time was right, God filled me with the courage I needed. There were some inevitable tears and a few heated discussions,but all in all, the transition unfolded as if God’s hand was directing the entire process, which I believe it was. My professional associates conducted themselves with admirable class and integrity, for which I will always remain grateful, and my clients responded with a level of support beyond anything I had imagined possible.

So, in keeping with God’s incomparable sense of humor and timing, I launched my new law practice on April Fools’ Day 1999, sailing faithfully into an unknown realm under the hopeful banner “Practical Counsel—Christian Perspective.”

Over the years since, I have worked and prayed to discover a truly Christian perspective on the law, and to discern biblical principles with practical application to the real-life situations faced by my clients. I have encountered some successes and some failures. Through my own weakness, I have missed many opportunities to glorify God. But in humbling myself before him, I have also been privileged to participate in some miraculous demonstrations of God’s strength and power. Being a sinner, saved only by God’s grace, I expect that the future will hold more of the same.

I offer this book to share some of the things I’ve learned so far. I pray that it will be an encouragement to the body of believers to live out the abundant life God promises. And I pray that it will serve as a warning to help us avoid some of the many traps and snares Satan has set for us in the legal system (a glimpse of hell itself in the minds of many reading this, I am sure!). Although written for nonlawyers, I trust that my fellow attorneys will be enlightened as well. I have encountered too many lawyers who publicly present themselves as Christians, but in practice are virtually indistinguishable from their secular peers. I believe God has something much better in mind for all of us.

May this book be a blessing to you.

Stephen L. Bloom, Esquire
Carlisle, Pennsylvania

The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues
Copyright © 2008 by Stephen L. Bloom
Published by Living Ink Books, an imprint of AMG Publishers
6815 Shallowford Rd.
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421
All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in printed reviews, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (printed, written, photocopied, visual, electronic, audio, or otherwise) without the prior permission of the publisher.

November 4, 2009

"You can't make it in biglaw if you're that worried about what God would think"

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. - Acts 4:29

A Christian law student's recent post at Christians in a Legal World asks the blunt question: "Would you put your membership in Christian Legal Society (or any other 'Christian' organization) on your resume?"

Over at Auto Admit, a law school admissions discussion board, a long discussion thread unfolds under the heading: "Is Christian Law Student Association acceptable to put on resume?" A sampling of the counsel offered there: "Anybody who knows what they are about wouldn't think you'd be a good fit for biglaw.You can't make it in biglaw if you're that worried about what God would think."

Is being a born-again Christian believer really a career killer in the legal profession? If so, would you (or do you) suppress your Christian identity to advance your professional success?

Here's the comment I posted at Christians in a Legal World:

"I am convinced that God honors us when we honor him. While there may be costs associated with identifying yourself as a Christian lawyer, there are rewards that far outweigh those costs. You may lose some income potential, maybe even some opportunities for career advancement, but you will gain the joy of living an integrated life, and God will have plenty of unexpected career opportunities of his own for you. Don't hide your faith!"

What about you? How do you reconcile your Christian faith with your legal career?

October 28, 2009

On Making Prominent the Printed Page: Developing a Christian Worldview Through Reading Widely (for Christian lawyers)

Byron Borger (left), esteemed proprietor of Hearts & Minds, one of America's foremost independent Christian booksellers, was a speaker at the recent Christian Legal Society National Conference on "Developing a Christian Worldview Through Reading." In Byron's words:

I had this [bibliography] as a handout for a workshop done at the October 2009 Christian Legal Society conference in La Jolla, California. What a privilege to sit with a small group of lawyers, judges, jurists and law students and talk about reading as an act of worship, obedience, relevant discipleship and dialogue with the culture. That spells WORD and was the main framework for my remarks about why we need to read seriously. Here, then, are some of the best suggestions I had for this small but serious group.

Byron has now graciously posted his bibliography, On Making Prominent the Printed Page: Developing a Christian Worldview Through Reading Widely (for Christian lawyers), on his BookNotes blog. Enjoy and be blessed.

A personal note: I was greatly honored to see my own humble book, The Believer's Guide to Legal Issues, featured on Byron's list amidst such superior company.

October 22, 2009

Future Lawyers: Christian Law School Options

For prospective law students seeking a legal education informed by Christian values and ethics, here's a list of law schools openly proclaiming adherence to such teaching perspectives. The list may not be exhaustive and your comments with feedback and suggestions for adding, deleting or modifying entries based on your own experience and knowledge are invited and welcomed!

Ave Maria School of Law

Columbus School of Law (Catholic University of America)

Judge Paul Pressler School of Law (Louisiana College) - This is a proposed new Christian law school announced in August 2007







Additionally, the Christian Legal Society sponsors active student chapters at many secular law schools (see right sidebar for partial listing).

And whether you're attending (or planning to attend) a Christian or secular law school, you should prayerfully consider applying for the Blackstone Legal Fellowship and the Law, Justice and Culture Institute, both powerful free-standing programs that will help you develop a vibrant and intellectually challenging Christian perspective on the law.

Update 10/23/09 - Here are additional schools which appear to meet the criteria of my initial list, as suggested by readers:

September 29, 2009

Christian Lawyers - We Get to Do Fun Stuff Sometimes

Some days law practice is challenging. Trying to honor Christ while bearing the burdens of other people's problems, helping folks pick up the pieces of life's tragedies and losses, staring down the ugly consequences of sin. But on some days, being a Christian lawyer is fun!

Today, I got the joy and privilege of closing on a radio station purchase for my client, a faithful Christian ministry. For many years, One Heart Ministries leased the broadcast rights for WKBO "The Fortress" 1230AM in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. But for this ministry, owning the station outright was a long-deferred dream. That dream finally became a reality today.

Station president and on-air personality, Pete Hamel (seated), was delighted to pose for a picture with me as he inked the final documents in our law firm conference room. And yes, he gave me an official green light to share the good news of the completed deal on social media!

What fun stuff have you been blessed to participate in as a Christian lawyer?

September 17, 2009

September 10, 2009

Estate Planning: Driven by Fear and Greed?

Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. - Proverbs 23:5

The Believer's Guide to Legal Issues on estate planning:

Where Christians need to be careful when it comes to estate planning is in the perspective, or heart attitude, with which we carry out the planning process. Far too many Christians end up falling for the same psychological ploys as the rest of society, creating estate plans based on an unholy combination of fear and greed rather than on principles of wise and constructive planning. And far too many Christians are drawn deeper and deeper into this spirit of fear and greed by an estate-planning industry built largely on selling the illusions of "protection" and "security" to the very people it has just worked quite diligently to frighten.

(excerpt from Chapter 5, "The Estate-Planning Illusion")



August 29, 2009

Is the Legal Profession Hurting Marriages? A Lawyer's Perspective

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Sarah Jennings, Family Editor at Crosswalk.com, to answer her questions about some tough issues at the intersection of law, faith and life. From Crosswalk:

Your marriage is in trouble. Should you call a lawyer? Or, you're getting married. Should you draft a prenuptial agreement? Lawyer Stephen Bloom examines these issues and more in his book The Believer's Guide to Legal Issues. Read the Crosswalk interview...

Crosswalk.com, the world's largest Christian website, offers the freshest and most compelling biblically-based content to Christians who take seriously their relationship with Christ.

August 19, 2009

Justice, or Vengeance?

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge, I will repay,’ says the Lord. - Romans 12:19

There's a fine line between seeking justice and seeking revenge. While the decision ultimately rests with our clients, as Christian lawyers we are uniquely positioned to serve as ambassadors for forgiveness rather than enablers of vengeance.

Are you guilty of encouraging your clients to seek revenge through the legal system?

July 27, 2009

The Real Attorney-Client Privilege: Window on the Heart of a WWII Vet

I met with an elderly widower at his home today. We addressed his legal issues, then lingered and talked a while. He mentioned how he'd always lived in his hometown, except for three years in the service during World War II. He's 86 years old, physically strong and mentally sharp. I decided to take a chance and ask him about his wartime service, aware that many from his vanishing generation prefer not to discuss such experiences. But he was ready.

He worked in ground support for American and R.A.F. airmen flying bombing missions from a base in England. The airfield was under constant threat from German attacks and other similar bases were hit, costing many lives. Once, he sneaked aboard one of our planes for a mission over Germany, thanks to a friendship forged with the bomber's Captain. But soon, he explained, choking with tears at the words, he learned not to make friends with the bomber crews. Because so many never made it back. It was less painful if they weren't your friends. "We stopped getting to know them," he said, "It was a decision we made. We lost too many friends."

When he finally returned home, it was more of the same. Too many friends from his town were gone too, killed in the war. He struggled with guilt. Why did he survive? Why not them instead? And he struggles with the weight of that guilt even now, an old man alone so many years later. Still tearful, hankerchief in hand, he pointed to his Bible on the coffee table, "The only one that helps me through is the Lord."

That's the real attorney-client privilege. To be invited in, to be granted a privileged connection to the life's journeys of our clients.


July 8, 2009

Religion in the Workplace: Ideas, Resources, Stories?

I'm serving on the faculty of an upcoming Religion in the Workplace CLE program through the Pennsylvania Bar Institute. It's intended to be a discussion oriented forum, so if anyone has any good ideas, helpful resources, or relevant stories you think might be enlightening or interesting for me to share with our attendees, please feel free to pass them along! You can post them as a comment or send me an email. Thanks!

June 8, 2009

Christian Law, Not "Church Law"

I was doing a book signing for The Believer's Guide to Legal Issues at a conference for pastors and church leaders last week, and a potential reader bounded up to my table and started energetically grilling me about church law. You know, the murky intricacies of denominational hierarchy and judicial councils and trust clauses and what not. He assumed I was all about the law governing the internal conduct of church business affairs.

Before the guy got too far along, I had to tactfully jump in and cut him off. "I'm a Christian lawyer, not necessarily an expert in church law," I explained, "I try to help my clients approach everyday legal situations from a God-honoring biblical perspective, and my book is written for them - regular folks navigating the regular legal system." He was a bit disappointed, I guess. He seemed so anyway, as his conversational zeal quickly evaporated and he wandered off without buying my book.

I tell this story to illustrate a common misperception I encounter among both lawyers and non-lawyers alike. There are an amazing number of people who pigeonhole Christian lawyering, assuming, like my briefly made acquaintance, that a Christian lawyer must be one who handles matters of church law.

While I have nothing but respect for actual church law practitioners, theirs is but one narrow band of the full spectrum of Christian law. The Bible informs and enlightens in virtually every commonly encountered area of law and, in my vision for Christian lawyering at least, the Christian lawyer helps clients reconcile the legal situations they encounter with the relevant biblical wisdom. Christian law transcends church law and every other legal specialty.

May 22, 2009

Cross and Gavel: New Web Resource for Christian Lawyers and Law Students

Mike Shutt and his crew at the Institute for Christian Legal Studies have created Cross and Gavel, an excellent new web resource for Christian lawyers and law students.

From the site: Cross & Gavel is a comprehensive resource for Christian lawyers and law students who believe that faith is central to law practice and study. We understand that it is not always an easy task to faithfully walk out one’s calling in the law, and we desire to provide information, highlight resources, locate training, and network people seeking to be faithful ministers of justice in the kingdom.

May 9, 2009

The Prenuptial Blues

As a Christian lawyer, what's your take on prenups? Can a couple truly experience the physical, emotional, and spiritual unity of being joined as "one flesh" in the holy covenant of marriage when their legal interests are being kept separate by a binding prenuptial agreement? Is it healthy for bride and groom to be pitted against one another in adversarial legal negotiations during the months, weeks, and days leading up to their wedding ceremony?

You can get a sense of my answer from this short dramatic video spot for my chapter on prenups from The Believer's Guide to Legal Issues...

April 30, 2009

Justice Souter Steps Down: First Supreme Court Pick Looms for President Obama

While popular speculation held that President Obama's first Supreme Court vacancies would arise in the seats of two of the most liberal Associate Justices (the nearly post-octogenarian John Paul Stevens and the frail Ruth Bader Ginsburg), it turns out that Associate Justice David Souter (pictured left), a slightly younger liberal member of the Court, is the one providing President Obama with his first nomination opportunity. 

With Senator Arlen Specter's recent defection to the Democratic Party (Did the wiley Specter possess a bit of insider info about this impending vacancy? He will certainly bask in the limelight of leading from the majority side in yet another high profile Supreme Court confirmation process.)  setting up a nearly filibuster-proof Democratic super-majority, Obama's pick will face little meaningful opposition from the remaining Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee or in the full Senate. 

In replacing Souter, Obama's likely selection of a left-leaning nominee will be merely a liberal-for-liberal swap, maintaining the existing ideological weighting on the Court. Along with Stevens and Ginsburg, the other liberal Associate Justice, Stephen Breyer, will remain.  The conservative Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, the conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, and the swing vote, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, will likewise remain, leaving the balance of power on the Court intact, for now.

Who will be Obama's first Supreme nominee? His vanquished foe Hillary Clinton? His elusive mentor William Ayers?  A lesser known patron? A rising protege, someone young enough to shape the court in the President's image for a generation? 


April 24, 2009

Christian Law Journal: What is it? Who is it?

Anyone know the story behind the Christian Law Journal?

It's an online publication that just recently started turning up in my Google Alerts on Christian law, and it looks rather interesting. It has a professional and comprehensive feel, with lots of current and breaking info, but I can't be 100% sure its not some kind of sophisticated robot aggregator. Here's the description from the about page on the site:

"Founded in March of 2009, the Christian Law Journal exists to provide  christian lawyers and other professionals in the legal community with with up-to-date reports, news and trends in a fast-paced legal environment. Through the Christian Law Journal, legal professionals can find the latest news, technology insights, marketing tips and advice, law school news, verdicts and settlements affecting the christian community, areas for law students, book reviews and much more. In addition, the Christian Law Journal provides customized advertising solutions for marketers targeting the christian legal community."

April 17, 2009

Talking Clients Off the Litigation Ledge

Peacemaking Principles: Responding to Conflict Biblically is an amazing (and freely downloadable!) resource I use in my law practice to help clients make God-honoring choices when considering litigation. Produced by Peacemaker Ministries, this little one sheet pamphlet is packed with practical tools and easy to follow biblical guidance on handling conflict.

The brochure exposes typical destructive responses to conflict - escape (denial, flight and suicide) and attack (assault, litigation and murder) - and contrasts them with constructive biblical responses (overlooking offense, reconciliation, negotiation, mediation, arbitration and accountability). A trove of relevant scriptural authority in client-friendly format includes The Four Promises of Forgiveness, The PAUSE Principle of Negotiating and The Seven A's of Confession.

Think it's too tough to be a Christian peacemaker in your law practice? Simply hand your potential litigation client a copy of Peacemaking Principles: Responding to Conflict Biblically, suggest they read it and pray before deciding how to proceed, and then watch what happens. (A bit of prayer on your part doesn't hurt either!) You may soon find yourself happily out of work. It's happened to me more than once!

April 13, 2009

Denying Christ in Your Law Practice

Jesus answered, I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows today, you will deny three times that you know me. - Luke 22:34 (NIV)

Committed intellect. Intense passion. Fearless, strong, ready to stand with Jesus no matter what the cost, even prison and death. Yet hours later the bold disciple is cowering, denying his association with Christ. 

Is that you?

You're a lawyer and a committed follower of Jesus Christ, heart and mind renewed by the power of the resurrection. But are you openly revealing your Lord and Savior in your professional life? Do your colleagues in the law practice know who you really are? Is your faith obvious to your students? Do your clients recognize Christ in the way you conduct yourself? 

Or are you a stealth Christian at the bar, keeping your association with Jesus hidden in some dark catacomb? Who do your actions say you are when confronted by the rough and tumble challenges of the legal profession?  Would you even be accused of Christianity based on the words you speak and write as a lawyer?  

In your practice, you'll very soon have three opportunities to proclaim Christ or deny Him. We all will. The opportunities begin with our next phone call or email, the conversation we're about to have with our partner or paralegal, or the clients we're about to meet. The opportunities never stop coming.  As Christian lawyers, I pray we'll have the courage to demonstrate that, yes, we do know Jesus.

April 6, 2009

What if YOU were Pontius Pilate's Lawyer?

Randy Singer's The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ has been out for a few years, but still makes an intriguing and thought-provoking read for Christian lawyers as we experience the days leading into Good Friday and Easter. Singer offers a unique and insightful version of the tumultuous arrest, trial, and punishment of Christ, told from the insider's view of Pontius Pilate's chief legal advisor.

I'd highly recommend the book to my fellow attorneys at any time of year, but reading it this week offers us an especially fresh and timely perspective.

April 1, 2009

Through the End of This Journey: Elderly Clients

Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.

- Psalm 71:9 (NIV)

Some days in the law office unexpectedly take on an obvious theme. Yesterday was serving the elderly. With a few minor exceptions, my time was spent meeting with, preparing documents for, and corresponding about older folks.

Several were longtime clients, people I've been working with since they weren't elderly at all. My conference with one couple in particular, though, focused my thoughts on the transient nature of this life and the very personal window we lawyers are granted through which to observe the unfolding change. The husband, a jovial man and a brother in the Christian faith, a genuine and well-loved pillar of our community, is now approaching a quite vigorous 90. His dear wife is fading in her health, moving slowly, speaking slowly, but still smiling and radiating kindness.

We addressed the matters at hand in a business-like manner, but it was at the conclusion of our official work that my heart was touched. Our good-bye was long, extended with unexpected words of appreciation and affirmation from my clients. Words offered with a certain tone of urgency and a look in the eyes that suggested an acute awareness that we may not meet again in this world.

Godspeed, friends.

March 27, 2009

Indian Head Pennies and Holy Moments

As Christian lawyers, sometimes we're thrust into the glare of the public spotlight, seeking justice in some high-stakes, high-profile controversy. Other times, we're called to serve our clients in the most humble, quiet ways. 

Yesterday, I had the high privilege of spending a couple of peaceful hours with the Executrix of an estate in a quiet bank office as we counted and cataloged her late father's coin collection. We reverently sorted well-worn indian head pennies and liberty dollars, imagining the people who had once handled the coins, the lives they led, the tumultuous events they had witnessed, and we occasionally talked in reminiscent tones of how her dad had accumulated the collection. We were diligent but unhurried, cognizant of our sacred duty and the fiduciary trust others had placed in us.

Sometimes the best part of being a lawyer is simply the opportunity to share intimate moments in the lives of our clients. Times when witnessing for Christ means nothing more complicated than being a supportive listener and honorable companion. 

March 24, 2009

Helping or Hindering?

Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering. - Luke 11:52



Just a little something for us lawyers to ponder...

March 16, 2009

What is Christian Lawyering? Radio Interview


Allan D. Sobel, Director of The Adams Center for Law and Society, hosts Justice for All?, a weekly 30 minute talk radio show on WQSU-FM, 89.9, at Susquehanna University. A few months ago, I was Dr. Sobel's guest for an interview exploring what it means to practice Christian lawyering. Click here to listen to the full interview.

March 12, 2009

Tax Time: Lying Tongues and Deadly Snares

The story is told in three of the four gospels. Jesus is approached by some religious people (lawyers among them, naturally) who think they know his character. They are sure he will advise against paying taxes to the corrupt Roman government. And they plan to use his opposition as a means to trap him with legal trouble and shut down his ministry. But Jesus surprises and amazes them by saying, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's and to God the things that are God’s.” Luke 20:25.

It’s that simple. Jesus says to pay the government the taxes we owe!

Yet many Christian clients inexplicably seem to struggle with honesty and full compliance when it comes to paying taxes. Some want to dance around the issue of taxes almost as if they believe there is an entirely separate standard of morality that applies, as if the distinction between lies and truth mysteriously evaporates in the realm of taxation.

What’s the real deal? Lying about taxes is still lying.

The book of Proverbs, at chapter 21, verse 6, warns, “A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.” Better we counsel our clients to pay the government all the taxes they legitimately owe than to let them get caught up in a deadly snare!

March 11, 2009

More Laws or More Freedom to Cure the Great O-pression?

If Adam Smith were here today to witness our economic debacle, this “Great O-pression” which seems to be consuming our wealth with an unprecedented fury, would he support the idea of massive government intervention to “fix” the problems we face?

I tackle this question in my latest Good News on the Law column at GoodNewsDaily.net.

March 4, 2009

Christian Lawyer: Not an Oxymoron (Magazine Interview with Stephen Bloom)







“I sensed God speaking to me. It wasn’t like I could hear it with my ears, but it was clear as can be. I heard God saying to me, ‘You know what you have to do.’ I realized right then and there that I was going to have to leave that law firm and I was going to have to strike out and do a so-called Christian law practice. I didn’t know what that would look like and I still don't know for sure; it’s a work in progress.”

Excerpted from A Time to Love magazine's new interview with Stephen Bloom. Read the full interview "Christian Lawyer: Not an Oxymoron" in the March 2009 issue at the link above. 


February 28, 2009

A Lawyer's Choice: Gasoline or Water

As a Christian lawyer, when your client is being consumed by the flames of offense, do you fuel that fire with gasoline, or do you quench it with cool water?

A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. - Proverbs 19:11

Are you encouraging your clients to embrace God's counsel and experience the glory of overlooking offenses? Or are you, perhaps by unwitting conformity to secular expectations, misguiding your clients into getting scorched by the heat of revenge?

February 26, 2009

The Invisible Rule: Lawyer as Counselor

Our cultural image of lawyers as zealous advocates is so dominant that many lawyers and non-lawyers alike are surprised to learn that the rules of our profession explicitly authorize an alternative paradigm for lawyering: The lawyer as counselor.

ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 2.1, stealthily listed under the official subheading "Counselor," reads as follows:

Rule 2.1 Advisor

In representing a client, a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice. In rendering advice, a lawyer may refer not only to law but to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors, that may be relevant to the client's situation. [emphasis added]

Certainly, for the Christian lawyer, an appeal to the client's sense of Christian ethics and values falls squarely within the scope of such authorized advice. The popular myth that lawyers must blindly serve clients as morally neutered hired guns is just that, a popular myth.

Comment 2 to Rule 2.1 clarifies the concept of lawyer as counselor:

[2] Advice couched in narrow legal terms may be of little value to a client, especially where practical considerations, such as cost or effects on other people, are predominant. Purely technical legal advice, therefore, can sometimes be inadequate. It is proper for a lawyer to refer to relevant moral and ethical considerations in giving advice. Although a lawyer is not a moral advisor as such, moral and ethical considerations impinge upon most legal questions and may decisively influence how the law will be applied. [emphasis added]

While Christian lawyers are, of course, sometimes called to be zealous advocates for our clients, we can likewise fully and ethically embrace the call we often experience to provide our clients with something more, the benefit of sound biblical counsel.

February 21, 2009

The Litigation Trap and The Christian Conciliation Alternative: Full Chapter Excerpts Online

The current issue of Christianity 9 to 5 Magazine (Issue 35: Dealing with Discouragement and Discord) features two full chapter exerpts, "The Litigation Trap" and "The Christian Conciliation Alternative," from The Believer's Guide to Legal Issues by Stephen Bloom.

From the magazine: "In our litigious society, it’s become a cultural norm for people to turn to lawyers and the courts to settle their conflicts. But when should a Christian litigate? Under what circumstances should we rely on the judicial system to resolve our disputes? And what alternatives, if any, are there for those with legitimate claims? In this pair of chapters from his book The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues, Stephen Bloom provides some clarifying perspective."

February 18, 2009

Book Review: Faith & Law

Faith & Law: How Religious Traditions from Calvinism to Islam View American Law (2008, NYU Press) is an engaging and enlightening group of scholarly essays on faith and law, each given context by editor Robert F. Cochran Jr.'s illuminating and insightful commentary. As Professor Cochran explains in his introduction, many law schools seem to have forgotten (or have chosen to ignore) the immensely important role of religion in the development and practice of law. This book helps us, as lawyers, to break free from our overwhelmingly courthouse-centric view of the law and rediscover the unique perspectives on the law offered from our houses of worship. I would highly recommend "Faith & Law" to lawyers, law students, judges and legal scholars. 

February 16, 2009

Google Gives Glimpse of Legal Struggles

If the eyes are a window to the soul, then Google Analytics is a window to the struggles of that soul.

About a year ago, I launched IsThereALawyerInTheChurch, as a helpful website for Christians seeking biblical counsel on the real life legal situations they face. It’s not a site offering specific legal advice or soliciting clients. Instead, it’s intended to be a connection point to various Christian legal resources and organizations, as well as a forum to share information from my book, The Believer’s Guide to Legal Issues (Living Ink Books, 2008), and my related ministry of spreading the good news that Christ offers hope and peace to those caught up in legal complexities. 

When I set up my site, I registered it with Google Analytics, an amazing free tool for monitoring and analyzing web traffic. I knew it would be enlightening to learn something about the people visiting my site, but I had no idea how revealing some of the Google Analytics data would be.

And while statistics on the raw numbers of visitors, their geographical locations, and the sites that refer them are interesting, it’s the ability to see the actual search terms used by the anonymous people landing on my site that I find most intriguing. Each search term suggests its own story, and often it’s not a pretty one.

For example, my heart sinks at the thought of what unfortunate experiences must have inspired searches like “how lawyers cheat clients,” “how not to be cheated by attorney,” “ways lawyers cheat their clients,” “should Christians continue to try and find honest lawyers,” and the grammatically challenged but starkly poignant “lawyer and there skeems.”

How were these searchers being victimized by their attorneys? What professional misconduct and schemes generated such fear and suspicion? And how tragic that any lawyer anywhere would be treating clients in such a way as to make inquiries like this necessary.

And then there’s the other side of the coin, clients seeking retribution against their attorneys. Searches like “how to get even with your lawyer.” While this angry searcher surely left my site without gleaning useful ammunition for the implementation of his or her vengeful plans, the rest of the Internet is not so kind and I have no doubt some frightening answers were found. And I can only pray that God’s spirit of forgiveness would intervene before someone gets hurt.

Perhaps the person seeking revenge against a lawyer would be delighted to learn that somewhere, a lawyer was searching “lawyers cheated by clients.” Would that be comfort enough? Maybe not, but I’m betting that those of you who’ve ever reluctantly paid a lawyer’s bloated invoice are smiling at least a little at the image of this poor attorney haplessly searching the web for insight on what to do after being ripped off by his or her devious client!

And maybe the next best thing to cheating your lawyer is finding a way to avoid the need to pay for legal representation at all. The search for “Christian lawyers who work for free” reflects the surprisingly common misperception that if a lawyer is a Christian, then he or she should, of course, be willing to work pro bono for other Christians. Never mind that Christian lawyers have to feed their families and pay their bills just like everyone else! I don’t know if this misperception is as common in other professions: Is the Christian dentist expected to clean the teeth of follow believers for free? Must the Christian car mechanic do free oil changes for every brother or sister in Christ who pulls into the service bay? Why, I wonder, do so many expect their Christian lawyer to work for free?

But at least the person looking for a free Christian lawyer does seem to recognize that there are, in fact, Christian lawyers. Others are not so convinced. Hence doubt-filled searches like “are there Christian lawyers,” “can Christians be lawyers,” and the assumption-laden “why lawyers don't go to church.” I am happy to announce that yes, there are Christian lawyers! Lots of us, actually. We have national and international organizations, conferences and training sessions, books and websites, even a number of fully accredited law schools turning out hundreds more freshly minted Christian lawyers every year! And, believe it or not, yes, many of us even go to church!

On the other hand, there is this ominous search inquiry: “lawyers who take on churches.” Unfortunately, there are plenty of those too, and I am saddened to know that the end result of a search like that will probably be a local sheriff knocking on some parsonage door and serving the pastor with a lawsuit against his congregation. Maybe the lawsuit will be justified, maybe it will be frivolous. But either way, damage will be done.

As the Apostle Paul pleaded with the Corinthians, “I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to decide between one believer and another, but a believer goes to court against a believer – and before unbelievers at that? In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud – and believers at that.” 1 Corinthians 6:5-8. A lose-lose situation, to be sure.

Meanwhile, other searchers are asking “can Jesus save you from legal issues?” It may sound like a na├»ve or desperate question, but my answer would be yes, He can. In my twenty-plus years of law practice, I’ve come to realize that following God’s counsel on legal matters can, in fact, save you from much grief and heartache. I’m not claiming that God will help you win your case or avoid the consequences for your actions. But if you are willing to take the bold step of being a peacemaker in the circumstances you find yourself facing, God can and will deliver you from the miserable cycle of greed, retribution and destruction that accompanies most legal action.

Sometimes, the searches are more mysterious in nature. I can only wonder what the person searching “a lawyer representing Jesus in court” is trying to find. Perhaps the searcher perceives that a lawyer who represents the least of these (orphans, widows, the poor, the oppressed – the potential list gets quite lengthy) is truly representing Christ? Perhaps the question is whether Jesus had an earthly advocate in the sham trial that sent Him to the cross? It’s a fascinating question. But in the final analysis, really it is Christ who becomes our lawyer (our advocate), not the other way around. Christ is the one who redeems us from the harsh judgment we would surely face without Him at our side.

And then there’s this search: “I’m confused and tired.” Why this forlorn query led someone to my legal website, I have no idea. But it is fitting. The scripture quote on my sidebar leads right to the answer, from Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord builds the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.”

And if the searcher would turn to the Bible and open that passage, they would see the next verse, Psalm 127:2: “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.” It’s my hope and prayer that this unknown searcher, and all those others seeking help for the challenging situations they face, would turn to God and find clarity and peace.

(reprinted from Stephen Bloom's latest Good News on the Law column from Good News Daily)

February 14, 2009

Equipping Law Students for Balanced Lives

The legal profession has a well deserved reputation for consuming (and sometimes destroying) the lives of its practitioners. So for Christian lawyers, especially, the ability to maintain a healthy balance between law practice and life's other worthy endeavors is an essential survival skill.  In the coming weeks I'll be sharing some of my own hard-won insight on successful life and career balance with future lawyers at University of Maryland School of Law and Widener Law

My planned presentation for the law students, entitled "Making Friends with the Jealous Mistress: Successfully Balancing Law Practice and Life," is based partially on a similarly titled essay I wrote for The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine's July/August 2008 issue.  Anyone interested in receiving a copy of that essay may leave a comment requesting same, along with appropriate contact info, and I'll be happy to email the pdf file to you.

My talk at Maryland is set for February 26, at 12:00 p.m., and my talk at Widener is tentatively set for March 19, at 5:00 p.m. The talks are being sponsored by the respective Christian Legal Society Student Chapters at each law school.

February 10, 2009

Foreword: The Believer's Guide to Legal Issues


The proverbial saying that an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure” aptly describes the true value of the “practical counsel” the reader will find from Steve Bloom on every page of this helpful book. Best of all, Mr. Bloom’s experienced counsel is not just practical, it is eternal because it soundly rests on the words of God as set forth in Holy Scripture.


Having practiced law for more than thirty years, I find collected in this book just the sort of sage advice I would give to my dearest friend or closest relative. I imagine that if taken to heart this book might save the reader much heartache, not to mention wasted time and unnecessary legal fees.


It is no secret that Christians in America divorce just as often and are involved in more than 4 million lawsuits annually. Indeed, it can be whimsically stated that where two or more Christians are gathered in Jesus’ name there all too often is conflict. Rather than resolve these conflicts within the church, too many Christians are sent to attorneys and courthouses where they never hear the good advice found these pages.


On the other hand, here at the Christian Legal Society we know from the more than 10,000 legal referrals we provide to the public every year, most people do not know how to find a good attorney they can truly trust or how to properly evaluate the moral value of the advice they are receiving from their legal counsel they do retain. A reading of this book will better prepare anyone to wisely retain and best work with their legal counsel.


Mr. Bloom’s wise and Christ-honoring approach to identifying, understanding and responding to the legal problems most commonly faced by Americans today is a useful drink of water for a thirsty church. Best of all, the book sets forth in general terms just the sort of moral considerations that we all should hear and understand before investing considerable time and money in unnecessary legal proceedings that may only serve to kiss our most important relationships good-bye.


Mr. Bloom’s book not only shows folks facing legal problems how to best respond to those problems. It also serves to provide the Christian lawyer or law student with a good example of how they might better advise their clients.


Of course there is no better example of a Christian lawyer than Jesus. 1 John 2:1 says: “If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense, Jesus Christ the Righteous One.” The “we” John refers to in this passage are people he knew to be followers of Christ, those who by their confession of faith had already “retained” Jesus as their advocate or attorney to represent, defend and even stand in their place before the judgment seat of God. No “client” of Jesus has ever or will ever receive ineffective representation. None of Jesus’ clients have ever lost their case for salvation before the throne of Heaven. Even the guilty thief crucified with Jesus, when he asked Jesus to remember him in heaven, found the dying Jesus to be a caring and effective advocate.


According to Scripture, those who are in eternal torment decided or preferred to represent themselves (or sought some advocate, argument or thing other than Jesus) to make their case for righteousness before an all Holy and Righteous God. None of these are Jesus’ clients. Their unfortunate ends are as predictable as that of the guilty criminal defendant who decides to represent himself and has no one to take his punishment for him.


While it is true that Jesus had some harsh criticisms for the lawyers of his day who were always trying to “oppose him fiercely and besiege him with questions waiting to catch him in something he might say” (Luke 11:53-54), a careful reading of Luke 11:42 demonstrates that Jesus cared about right practice of law and was actually providing a job description for a lawyer who follows God, in contradiction to the legalistic, egocentric, hypocritical lawyers of Jesus’ day. Those lawyers were focusing on trivialities and forgetting justice, truth and fair treatment of others - - characteristics often applied to lawyers today. For Jesus, a Christian lawyer would not forget the “weightier matters of the law”- - justice, mercy and faithfulness (Malachi 23:22).


Take and read this useful book. Whether you are seeking Christian legal counsel or trying to provide it, this book will help you bear in mind the “weightier matters of the law” that Jesus encourages all of us to always remember – justice, mercy and faithfulness.


Sam


Samuel B. Casey
Executive Director & CEO
Christian Legal Society



Author's Note: Foreword excerpted from "The Believer's Guide to Legal Issues" (2008, Living Ink Books). Sam Casey concluded his ministry as the Executive Director & CEO of the Christian Legal Society in late 2008, after 14 years of faithful service. He now serves as Executive Vice President & General Counsel at CLS's sister organization, Advocates International.