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The Religious Lawyering Critique

Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. XXI, No. 2, 2005-2006

Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 952998

17 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2006  

Bruce A. Green

Fordham University School of Law


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.

Suggested Citation

Green, Bruce A., The Religious Lawyering Critique. Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. XXI, No. 2, 2005-2006; Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 952998. Available at SSRN:

Bruce A. Green (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

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