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Consider how the lilies grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he do to you, O you of little faith!  And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry, about it.  For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.  But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:27-31

One of the principal concerns I always faced as a practicing attorney was worry over money.  It constantly drove me to seek new clients, be solicitous to existing clients, and compete with my partners for client originorion credit in a sometimes hostile atmosphere.  In a couple of large firms in which I was a partner, and in many others from reports I have heard, the quest for income production and client origination far overshadowed the professional side of the practice.

This need to succeed from a financial standpoint caused many partners to leave firms for greener pastures, caused law firms to actively solicit partners of other firms who had large client portfolios to leave their firms and join them, and caused turmoil and outright contempt among partners and associates alike who saw greed as the primary law firm purpose.  Compensation committees rewarded income producers, the “rain makers,” disproportionately, although usually denying this practice to the firm as a whole, in an effort to keep them from jumping ship, which was always a constant threat and one often made, especially around the time the compensation committee was to meet.

This almost exclusive preoccupation with financial success frequently resulted in bending moral and ethical standards since these standards often stood in the way of many practices which produced income and generated clients.  The ethical prohibition on conflict of interest in many firms, large and small is treated only as a part of a code, like the Internal Revenue code, to circumvent.  This approach no longer deals with what is ethical, but how the purported conflict can be favorably resolved so that new business can be taken or that the interests of conflicted clients can be handled.  The crafting of conflict waivers has become a legal art form in itself.  The unbridled solicitation of clients already represented by other counsel is now universally accepted with inducements of better service or lower prices.

For the Christian attorney trying to practice in this environment, the income race is a persistent problem.  The most basic question is one of priorities and to what extent money is your first priority.  If wealth and money is your primary quest, then be wary of the consequences.  Not only will this quest likely precipitate actions which may stretch ethics and basic moral principles, but Scripture gives us many reasons to reconsider.

Some will surely say that will not be my fate, “I can handle all I can get.”  But the 1 Timothy 6:10 warns us: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”  But again, some will say I don’t love the money; it’s only professional success I seek, and money naturally follows.  Great rationalization, but only that.

Worst of all, the race for material rewards and all the worrying and fretting flies in the face of Jesus’ words in Luke 12 which says it all to lawyers who would put financial success as their first priority.  Our Lord counsels us: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Then Jesus said to His disciples: “do not worry about your life, what you eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them.  And how much more valuable you are than birds.  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?!  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

Matthew 6:21 counsels us that where our treasure is there will our heart be and in 6:24 that we cannot serve both God and money.  The bottom line is priorities.  Will you practice law as the profession it was meant to be, with service to Christ and community, and dedication to your family as your primary priorities, or will you run the money race?  Put another way, do you really trust your Father to care for you, or will you depend on your own abilities?

Jim Jenkins

 

– This article comes from AI’s devotional for lawyers titled, “What Does the Lord Require of You?”

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