What’s Love Got to Do With It?: Contemporary Lessons on Lawyerly Advocacy from the Preacher Martin Luther King, Jr.

40 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2008 Last revised: 18 Dec 2009

See all articles by Deborah Cantrell

Deborah Cantrell

University of Colorado Law School

Date Written: August 28, 2008


To date, the discourse on faith and lawyering has often focused on the question of whether or not a lawyer should use faith-based values to inform her lawyerly practice. The discourse is dichotomous and polarized, with one view seeing destructive consequences and the other seeing productive consequences. For those opposed to faith in lawyering, the expressed concern is that lawyers of faith cannot help but either dominate their clients or disengage from their clients. Those who lawyer from faith respond that, to the contrary, their faith encourages them to behave in ways that are beneficial to their clients and to more general ideas of social justice. That dichotomous call and response, when kept at the level of "whether or not" to lawyer from faith, is irreconcilable. This article seeks to move beyond the dichotomy by considering a particular faith-based mandate, "love of neighbor." It postulates what specific lawyerly actions based on "love of neighbor" might look like, and then assesses whether those actions are consistent with lawyerly obligations. Distinctively for legal scholarship, it does so from an interfaith perspective, looking to Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism. The article concludes that "love of neighbor" provides an example of a particular faith-based concept that encourages lawyerly practice deeply consistent with accepted professional responsibilities.

Keywords: legal ethics, legal profession, law and religion, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism

Suggested Citation

Cantrell, Deborah, What’s Love Got to Do With It?: Contemporary Lessons on Lawyerly Advocacy from the Preacher Martin Luther King, Jr. (August 28, 2008). U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-21, University of St. Thomas Law Journal, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1265810 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1265810

Deborah Cantrell (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics