The Religious Lawyering Critique
Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. XXI, No. 2, 2005-2006
17 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2006
There is a developing body of legal scholarship on the relevance of religion to lawyers' work. Some authors offer a critique of the legal profession that views its norms as hostile to religious belief and identity, as inconsistent with religious and ordinary social morality, and as presupposing an amoral lawyering style. This article, which grew out of an AALS program on Professional Responsibility and the Religious Traditions, examines the religious lawyering critique. Initially, it notes that prior legal-ethics scholarship challenges both the critique's descriptive premises, such as that the profession has endorsed the extreme "hired gun" conception, and its normative premises, such as that a lawyer's personal values should dominate the legal representation. The article then explores how the critique is in tension with other writings on religious lawyering that assume that religious lawyers can generally practice consistently with the legal profession's norms, that it is not "amoral" to implement lawful instructions to which one is morally opposed, that helping clients achieve their ends can be a moral good in itself, and that professional values are largely consistent with religious ones at least at a level of generality. Finally, the article questions the critics' premise that when religious and professional expectations do conflict, religious expectations are necessarily better.
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