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.