Do I Really Want a Christian Lawyer?

“What God has joined together as one, let no man intervene.”

“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.”

“Anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.”

“There is a time for everything, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to love and a time to hate..”

“But if the husband or wife who is not a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is not bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.”

As a lawyer who professes Christianity, quite often, we are referred cases from Pastors, Christian therapists, and former “Christian” clients. Quite often when spouses are going through marital discord and seek legal advice, the potential client will state “I want a Christian lawyer.”

The reasons are legion.

A random review of notes often shows the following reasons;

  1. “I want my lawyer to understand that I do not want my marriage to end, and biblically I believe divorce is wrong.”
  2. “I want my lawyer to be able to pray with me that God’s will is paramount even though I can no longer stay in this marriage.”
  3. “I want a Christian lawyer because I trust a lawyer who bows the knee to Jesus Christ more than I would trust one who does not.”
  4. “My pastor referred me to your firm stating that you are a “Christian law firm.””

In terms of “wanting a Christian lawyer”[1] most clients will readily admit they want to choose a good lawyer, a tough lawyer, an ethical lawyer, a diligent lawyer, and a well prepared lawyer skilled in family law, the rules of evidence, the rules of civil procedure and local rules of court.

If there is no “Christian lawyer” that can meet the above qualifications then there should be no hesitancy in placing the “Christianity” of the lawyer as secondary to a well-qualified, ethical, lawyer who does not necessarily profess Christianity.

The benefits of a qualified Christian lawyer, if in fact the capable, qualified, and ethical, are significant for that specialized client.

The “Christian lawyer” speaks the same “language” as the client. The “Christian lawyer” can assist the client with making difficult decisions such as whether the Apostle Paul, Moses, and Jesus Christ “permit” divorce, or answer questions such as “If I have to file a lawsuit because my husband will not provide the documents, am I violating Paul’s commentary that “Christians should not be suing Christians in secular court.””

The “Christian Lawyer” is more than likely acquainted with many of the pastors in the community, many of the “Christian therapists” in the community, and is acquainted quite often with a Judges theological background, an opposing lawyer’s faith background, and essentially can give a stronger sense of reassurance to the client where both the client and the lawyer share the same faith.

The same can be said about a potential Muslim client, wanting a Muslim lawyer, or a potential Latino client wanting a Latino lawyer.

There is a comfort level when the lawyer and the client share a common background. Be it a similar faith, being born or raised from the same geographical area, or a myriad of other reasons such as sharing a common culture, race, or political background.

A potential client, who has a strong faith, can benefit from having a lawyer that shares the same faith. However, unequivocally, and to a reasonable degree of professional certainty, the faith of the lawyer is secondary to the skill of the lawyer, the ethics of the lawyer, the preparation of the lawyer, the knowledge of the law, and of critical importance, the reputation of the lawyer in the community as to his or her honesty, capabilities as a negotiator, capabilities as a litigator, and experience.

In closing and summarizing, consider the following thoughts-

  1. It is permissible for a person of strong faith, regardless of whether it is Christianity, Buddhism, Hindu, or Muslim, to seek out a family law attorney who shares the same or similar beliefs.
  2. The final decision of choosing a lawyer, the lawyer’s faith should not be the determining factor. The determining factor should be the reputation in the community of the attorney for preparation, trial experience, and knowledge of the collaborative alternative dispute methods available (such as collaborative law, mediation, arbitration, and similar popular new methods of resolving domestic disputes.)
  3. If a lawsuit must be filed because one party is not providing necessary documents, or does not have a justifiable reason for denying parenting time, or is simply being so unreasonable that a judge or arbitrator must hear evidence, then the skill of that lawyer in litigation is paramount, including a working knowledge of the rules of civil procedure, the rules of evidence, the local rules of practice, the general rules of practice, and preferably years of experience in the court room, either as a second chair or as lead counsel.

(The lawyer must be trained in those alternative methods, having attended continuing legal education courses regarding alternative dispute resolution, and knowledge of the rules that go with it.)

What we have found to be the prime goal of our hiring policy when adding additional lawyers or paralegals, is as follows: does the lawyer prepare, prepare, and prepare. Preparation trumps brilliance. Preparation leads to confidence. Confidence that is earned, not feigned, is critical when presenting the clients request. A judge or a jury can see in the eyes of the lawyer if the lawyer really believes in the client, is behind the client, and wants the client to succeed.

-Tom Bush, Esquire

Tom is a family law attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina.

To book an appointment with Tom or another of our family law attorneys, please call us at 704-347-0110.

[1] For purposes of this article being helpful to those of other faiths merely substitute the word “Christian” with “Judaism,” “Muslim,” “Buddhist,” or other faith.

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