Christians who want to become lawyers must first recognize that law is a calling and a ministry that allows professionals to use their talents to glorify God by serving others.
“Law is a calling; it’s a calling to serve others,” said B. Keith Faulkner, dean of Liberty Law School. “When law is in its most healthy state, it is really being practiced with a focus on the client — serving the client and meeting their needs.”
Unfortunately, far too many lawyers use their skills to hurt — not help — their clients, he contended.
“One of the ways we see our industry being placed at risk right now is through trust account violations, and that goes to the heart of integrity and being an ethical lawyer,” he explained. “Client money is entrusted to lawyers to manage and to hold and to use for the appropriate purposes. But those who lack ethics and integrity will invade those accounts for their own benefit. As an industry and profession that is focused on serving others, that is the most self-serving thing a lawyer can do. That’s an example of the legal industry at its worst.”
A seasoned lawyer with more than 25 years of experience, Faulkner knows a thing or two about providing ethical and dedicated legal advice to his clients. At Liberty Law, Faulkner draws upon his first hand-experience and expertise as a lawyer to help students succeed in their chosen field of study and use their gifts to better the world.
“People come to lawyers in some of their most vulnerable times, and lawyers have to recognize this,” he said. “People getting divorced; people losing businesses, their lives, liberty, or property. When we focus on helping these individuals, that’s when we’re really doing what we’re supposed to do as lawyers.”
Emphasizing the need for professionalism and ethics in law, Faulkner said that at Liberty Law students are constantly pushed to think about how they can inspire the profession, innovate the practice, and make a solid impact on society.
“We encourage students to think about how they can inspire the profession by being great professionals, by being better than good,” he said. “Good is not enough; you need to strive for excellence. We want our students to think about innovative new ways to deliver legal services that are client-centered. We also want them to impact the world...to go out and get involved. That’s the biggest way you can make a mark.”
The practice of law has become far more competitive in recent years due to an increase in law school graduates, a tightening job market, and a focus on specialization within the legal practices. To stand out upon graduation, Faulkner encourages students to take advantage of the externships and internships Liberty offers and get involved volunteering with professional organizations at the local, state, and national level.
“We place students in internships and externships all over the country,” he said. “It’s an exciting time to be seeking ministry opportunities and ways to engage in the practice. We have had students working for Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Council, Christian Legal Society — all sorts of nonprofit and advocacy organizations moving the ball forward to advance a Christian worldview and defend religious liberties.”
At Liberty, students are taught to integrate both faith and reason into their chosen field. Through a variety of faith-focused organization and other opportunities, law students are able to grow spiritually while acclimating to the rigors of law school.
“At Liberty, we encourage students to live a life of faith, and there are several opportunities within law school for them to do so,” said Dr. Faulkner. The prayer mentor program — a time where third year law students offer support and guidance to incoming students — is a particularly impactful way to help students grow in their faith, he said.
“[This program] provides them with a soundboard not only on academic issues but also on issues related to faith — how to remain faithful while they’re in law school and not to deviate or shut out the spiritual side of their life,” he said. “That is critical to developing Champions for Christ who go out and practice law.”
By integrating sound biblical principles into academics, Liberty Law equips students to succeed in their pursuit of justice in their community and in the world.
“We believe that one's’ vocation, in this instance the law, is God’s calling on your life,” said Dr. Faulkner. “If you’re focused on that, then you’re going to be an ethical person; you're going to strive to do the right thing for your clients and your profession.”