Yesterday I participated in the biennial conference of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools (RALS, for short), conveniently located this year at University of St. Thomas law school. The theme of the conference was Religious Identity in a Time of Challenge for Law Schools.
We covered many topics over the course of the day, including employment and student well-being, scholarship, and the relationship between justice and mercy.
Part of the joy of this conference is the fellowship among those of us who see our faith as an integral part of our lives of law professors, both in and and outside of the formal sessions of the conference. That leads to our deep concern with helping our students discern with God who they will be in the world after they graduate law school and our commitment to model for our students how our faith impacts our professional identity.
One of the statements made early in the day that troubled me is that evidence shows that people enter law school more other-oriented than they leave law school. IF that is the case, law school is doing something drastically wrong and we should be deeply troubled. (In fact, I said during my talk yesterday afternoon that if that is the case for religiously-affiliated law schools, then we should close our doors and stop what we are doing.)
I hope it is not the case that our law students leave more self-centered and with less concern for others than they arrive at law school. But evidence like that cited yesterday should cause all of us who train professionals to reflect on whether we are doing enough to help people grow in their other-orientation and how we might more effectively do so.
The question is not so much how the student leaves law school, but what very specific spiritual support system(s) they have upon graduation as they begin to practice law. As concerned for the rights of man as they may be upon graduation, the judicial system does not always, contrary to its stated position, concern itself with people and righteousness, but with winning. The success of most attorney’s is predicated on success, which more often than not has little regard for righteousness (biblically).
Very thoughtful comments. I really appreciate that you all in your teaching/mentoring roles, are helping our next batch of attorneys be grounded In righteousness and caring for others. It is hard to maintain this value in our current business and legal climate. Keep up the good work!