Law is more than a profession … it’s a calling by Lynne Marie Kohm
A calling is a summons, an invitation to a life mission. Some may call it a profession, an occupation, or employment, but I believe a calling is a divine summons, and I believe it happens to good lawyers. They are called.
A person called to be a lawyer attends law school, sits for the bar exam, apprentices at the practice, and eventually becomes an expert in his or her field, all with painstaking ardor for one broad purpose: to serve others. I am one of those lawyers who view my profession as a calling from the creator of the universe to serve Him by serving others. The legal profession can never be just a job, or a vocation, or even a career. Rather, to be effective in positively changing the status quo for the common good the law must be a calling.
Indeed, it is a call to the mission of serving the public by honestly representing the client who walks through the door, to serving the legal academy with research and new ideas that will affect the law toward greater justice, to serving the public at large through service to the bar and other attorneys. This mission is a calling.
Like many lawyers, family and faith are central for me. These core values direct my personal philosophy on life, lawyering, and the future of our civilization, and are based first and foremost in my personal relationship with Christ. Understanding the importance of personal responsibility and self government has resulted in my deep desire to provide respect and protection for children, and preservation and restoration of families. I am wholeheartedly dedicated to family restoration through the application of Christian legal principles.
In practicing law that calling translated into representing parents, spouses or families to work toward agreement in conflict whenever possible. Sometimes it meant helping a client to plan ahead to accomplish family harmony or to make the world a better place. This mission has also led me to be deeply involved in the realm of state, national, global, and volunteer bar service based on Christ’s servant leadership model, and relating that to my other service roles of parenting, teaching, mentoring, and discipleship of future lawyers.
In teaching, this calling translates to teaching future lawyers how to serve clients who are hurting, who need a healing salve for their problems, wise counsel for their decisions, and an advocate when negotiations break down. Teaching this to future lawyers is critical to changing the landscape of lawyering to one of harmony, blessing, and public service, and that happens through the mentoring process in law school first, then later in practice. People can be inspired and encouraged to be intentional in their lifestyle of personal responsibility in family life, and lawyers can and quite often do exhibit those values in the practice of law as well. Every person is encouraged to “give all diligence to make their calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1) and to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1). I’ve heard more law students say they were captured by the concept of calling, and followed that call to law school. Law is more than a profession indeed… it’s a calling.
Through the years I have learned that I’m not alone in my desire to make a positive difference in the world. And when I don’t have it quite right, I know who to turn to. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3. And as a woman, this calling reflects the many roles I must multitask, from wife to mother to law professor to colleague to mentor and disciple. Yet the qualities most necessary for wife and mother, which offer patience, hope, joy and esteem to my own family, transfer to beyond the family to benefit clients, colleagues, and the general public. It’s a mission of love, really – and a great calling!
© 2009 Lynne Marie Kohm
Lynne Marie Kohm, John Brown McCarty Professor of Family Law, Regent University School of Law
VSB Family Law Section Board of Governors Law School Liaison
VBA Domestic Relations Section, Council Chair