There are thousands of lawyer jokes. Many have a punch lines which
imply that lawyers will not be admitted to heaven.
These jokes are funny but the logic behind them is deeply flawed.
God is perfect and all knowing. Most theologians believe that each man
will be judged by God in light of the moral principles that animated and
guided that person’s conscience in life.
Theologians have devise “biblically based “ guidelines for right
behavior so that men by studying their Bibles and these guidelines might
have well formed consciences and know how to behave. But theologians
know that some men are “handicapped” because they have never been
exposed to these guidelines, or, though exposed to these guidlines, have
been mislead by their elders into accepting an alternative, false set of
guidelines. Theologians would argue that these “handicapped” men will be
held to a lower (or at least a different) standard by God than the rest
Lawyers, as pointed out elsewhere in this website, are a group of
people who have been taught to accept alternative guidelines of right
behavior at an impressionable age by articulate professors in gray
flannel suits. Are lawyers to be blamed by God for accepting this
alternative view of morality when this alternative structure was
impressed on them over a three year period, when they were in their
early twenties, by well spoken, well educated teachers? Of course not.
Remember, law schools generally do not reach out to the wider university
for such courses as “ethics” or “history of legal systems” or “the
philosophy of legal systems”. If they did, an alternative, counter
veiling moral ethos might compete for the law student’s attention. No,
law schools do not want competing concepts of right and wrong to
interfere with the process of “formation” that “makes” a lawyer.
The thoughtful reader might argue that because all lawyers have
been exposed to correct morality in their grade school, high school, and
college years before they became law students, God will hold them to the
guidelines learned in these earlier years. Theologians would differ with
this argument. A conscience is a flexible thing. Just as a person can in
adulthood learn right behavior and cast aside mistaken beliefs, a
person can in certain circumstances do the reverse, replace the “right”
with the “wrong”. Since God has designed our conscience to favor the
“right” and be resistant to the “wrong”, the latter process, replacing
right with wrong can usually only be effected over many months, or even
years, in a very structured, intense environment (in this case, a law
school). In addition, this process of legal education would not be very
successful if it challenged right morals with a frontal attack, but
legal education does not attempt this. Legal educators attempt to “add
on “ certain moral exceptions which they say only lawyers can properly
use. For instance, lawyers may spin the facts in a courtroom to convey a
favorable impression for their client and place the opposition in a
negative light, and government lawyers are allowed to secretly listen to
other people’s conversations. These abborations are justified because
lawyers are in a quest for “the truth”. The end justifies the means?
When Judge Starr speaks, everyone senses that he truly
believes that he has done the right thing in his pursuit of Monica and
the President. Will he have a high place in heaven? If God judges Judge
Starr by the “lights of” Judge Starr’s conscience the Judge will have a
high place in heaven. When Johnny Cockrane speaks, everyone senses that
he truly believes that he has done the right thing by making the jury
focus of Detective Mark Ferman’s use of the “n....” word ten years ago
instead of on O.J.’s use of a butcher knife on this ex-wife’s throat..
Will he have a high place in heaven? If God judges Mr. Cockrane by the
“lights of” Mr. Cockrane’s conscience then Mr. Cockrane will have a high
place in heaven In like fashion, every lawyer who truly believes in and
faithfully follows the moral precepts learned in law school has a good
chance at a very high place in heaven.