A few weeks ago, a piece I wrote appeared on the St. Thomas website. It was a good exercise, writing it; it made me distill into words some things that i just felt
. You can read the whole thing here
Here is how it starts:
I first visited St. Thomas Law to give a talk to the faculty at lunch. During the visit I saw the mission statement posted on a wall: “The University of St. Thomas School of Law, as a Catholic law school, is dedicated to integrating faith and reason in the search for truth through a focus on morality and social justice.” There, in a few words, were so many challenging imperatives. Faith and reason. Truth. Morality. Social Justice. Each different, each complicated, and each one of them was a part of what I had been imperfectly striving for. Within a year, I was a part of the faculty after 10 years at Baylor Law School. Did the mission matter? It did when it drew me to St. Thomas, and it has ever since.
Consider, for example, the idea of morality. For too many lawyers, their vocation becomes amoral; they represent whichever side of a dispute walks through the door and offers money. Earlier in my career I was deeply troubled that we talked a lot about ethics – such as working hard for your client – but not much about morality. That’s not true at St. Thomas. In criminal law classes, I challenge my students to think hard about the morality of professional decisions, such as the choices a prosecutor makes within her area of discretion. Sometimes, I find students who aren’t comfortable with the moral decisions lawyers have to make and part of my job is to change that and help them see the moral dimension to all kinds of legal work. It can be the hardest part of the job.