Friday, June 20, 2014

What is Law?


Law is foundational to civil society. Whether they are the rules that apply in the realm of your parent’s house, city ordinances, state law, federal statute, or by decree of the king, the fundamental purpose of law is like that of any legitimate rule in any context:


to preserve, promote, and protect relationships.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church suggests, “[l]aw is a rule of conduct enacted by competent authority for the sake of the common good. The moral law presupposes the rational order, established among creatures for their good and to serve their final end, by the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator. ‘Such an ordinance of reason is what one calls law.’”[1]

Law is, in its primary sense, a standard duly established and promulgated by a delegated authority in conformity with the laws of nature and nature’s God, in whom all authority is ultimately vested. In its most familiar context, government is that authority. The point I have asserted here is well stated by Roger Scructon in his article titledThe Good of Government.” The following is an excerpt from that piece:
“Government is a search for order, and for power only insofar as power is required by order. It is present in the family, in the village, in the free associations of neighbors, and in the “little platoons” extolled by Burke and Tocqueville. It is there in the first movement of affection and good will, from which the bonds of society grow. For it is simply the other side of freedom, and the thing that makes freedom possible.”
Scructon’s worldview (based solely on the article linked above) seems ultimately incompatible with that of the Christian. However, he rightly apprehends the government as the guarantor (not the grantor) of human freedom. We cannot not be deceived into a belief, as the sovereign citizen movement has, that Rousseau was correct in suggesting that we are “born free.” Government is not an impediment to human freedom from which one must be unshackled. Rather, it guarantees human freedom by legitimate force through the authority vested it in, not by men, not by itself, by the author of the natural law. 

Scructon argues in his article that “the human individual is a social construct,” noting the fundamental transformation of political and anthropological suppositions, the individual being a hallmark of modern philosophical thought. He appears to assert, I think correctly, that humans are not free “in the state of nature”, but “by nature,” i.e., in accordance with the natural law. He says that this is “because we can become free, in the course of our development,” (emphasis in original) which necessarily involves relationship with others.  Kant’s categorical imperative commanding us to treat rational beings as ends only and not as means does so because real relationship (a prerequisite for humanity) can never be forced. 

Law exists because the family, and not the individual, is the fundamental and irreducible basis of humanity. Relationship is fundamental to human existence, and since, now, humans exist in a state of brokenness, law has been established to promote temporal freedom from the bondage into which we are born.
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4, ESV)

[1] Leo XIII, Libertas præstantissimum: AAS 20 (1887/88),597; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II,90,1.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Remembering A Father In The Law


Last Friday I was with my four-year old son on our first camping trip when I received the message that my dear friend and mentor Tyler Makepeace had gone to be with His Lord and Savior.  Being Father’s day weekend, I realized for the first time how Tyler had in many respects been a father in the law to me.  When I first met him at a Christian Legal Society Conference a number of years ago, he shared his vision for Courtside Ministries with me and how he believed, even as an attorney in Colorado Springs, that the people of Chicago would be enormously blessed by a ministry devoted to praying for those coming in and out of their courts—particularly the busiest criminal court in America at 26th and California where Al Capone often appeared and where on any given day you can sit in on one of 10-12 murder trials.  So he asked me to pray with him for God to bring Courtside to Chicago, and God did.  God did and is still doing abundantly more than Tyler, I, and others asked or imagined he would do here.  In just a year and a half’s time, Courtside Ministries has prayed for thousands of people, led hundreds of people to or back to the Lord and into local churches, and has expanded to four different courthouses in the Chicagoland area alone.  I am so glad Tyler was able to witness the fruition of the seeds he faithfully planted.  I still remember the child-like joy with which he shared the news that Courtside is now operating in California, Indiana, Illinois and Colorado and looking at opportunities at 23 other courthouses across the country and even in few other countries.   

I will miss him, his words of encouragement and wisdom, and his fighting spirit.  But I will remember him with each testimony we receive from the Courtside tables, like the man last week who said to our prayer volunteers as he was leaving the courthouse, "you saved a soul today."

 I am so glad Tyler now has a front row seat to watch the ripple effects of the good work he started.  Before he left us, he encouraged us to share his story with others, so please take a quick moment to hear him in his own words.

And if you would like to support his ministry or see it come to a courthouse near you, please feel free to contact me or visit our website at: http://courtsideministries.org/

And in honor of how Tyler led his life, and because the rest of us have a lot of wonderful work to do, I leave you with this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7UY8inmKHU

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 15:58

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Advice On Holy Habits and Juggling Acts

Against a beautiful backdrop of softly falling snow (a treat for this Florida girl), I delighted in the opportunity to speak to the Regent Law faculty and students during their annual spiritual retreat on January 24.

Our panel of three alumni followed an inspiring keynote speech by David Nammo, executive director of Christian Legal Society. He spoke of the importance of developing “holy habits” while in law school – because, believe it or not, kids, life actually gets busier after law school.

 Yep! It’s true. While the pressures of toting highlighters and casebooks into every coffee shop you frequent are blissfully off, other pressures are full on. Swap out study hours for billable hours, final exams for annual reviews, and regularly scheduled homework assignments from your favorite professor for spontaneous, need-it-yesterday research assignments from your not-so-favorite partner, and welcome to a whole new world of chaos.

 And that’s just your work life chaos. We haven’t even scratched the surface of the other daily pressures clamoring for your starved attention. Family members, laundry piles, mail stacks, bills and loans, yards and cars, grocery stores and dentist chairs. What about church? Ministry? Friends? A little quiet time, perhaps? Dare I say exercise?

 Time is precious. Especially when measured in 6-minute increments. This is the first lesson every lawyer learns when released from the ivory white halls of academia.

Here’s a piece of advice dispensed from a well-loved judge I had the privilege to clerk for: Life is not a balancing act. There will always be more than two things you’re balancing – thus, it’s more of a juggling act.

When juggling, she says, be mindful of what’s in front of you at any given point in time. Sometimes, the priorities you’re juggling are like rubber and they’ll “bounce back” if you must drop one to keep others moving. Other times, you’re dealing with crystal – if dropped, it will shatter into a million unrecoverable pieces. The real trick is knowing when your rubber balls sometimes “morph” into crystal ones and vice-versa. A keen awareness of the ever-changing seasons of your life will aid your juggling efforts – is your family right now a crystal ball or rubber ball? Is that weekend work deadline crystal or rubber? Discernment at this level could save you from making a costly mistake.

While we’re on the topic of life-saving advice, I wanted to expand my thoughts on the four types of “holy habits” I shared about in brief on the panel. For the next four blog installments, I will dig a little deeper on these tried and true Biblical concepts: 1) First Fruits, 2) Honoring Authority, 3) Increasing Responsibility, and 4) Reaping and Sowing.

I look forward to journeying deeper with you into the Word on this blog. What I've found in the early stages of my legal career is that taking time to unlock the principles of His Kingdom – and turn them into “holy habits” – seems to unlock some sort of gate from Heaven from which all manner of unimaginable blessing flows.

 And all that juggling? Way more manageable with an extra Helping Hand from above.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Another week, another story

Greetings!

Another week, another huge sports story with legal implications. I'm not sure how many of you have followed the rise of Oscar Pistorius, but he is a South African sprinter. The more important point is that Pistorius is a double amputee and that he runs on plastic blades. And he ran fast enough to compete in the Olympics. Tragically on Valentine's Day, Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The initial reports were that the death was a Valentine's Day surprise gone wrong as Pistorius mistook Steenkamp for a burglar. This theory has already been ruled out due to today's revevlations that Steenkamp was shot through the bathroom door of Pistorius' apartment. Here's some more info (courtesy of CNN):

http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/18/world/africa/south-africa-pistorius-case/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

There are so many different elements to this case it is hard to pick out just one. Violence against women is one facet that hopefully will get enough attention and won't be overshadowed by Pistorius' celebrity. Pistorius is considered a national hero in South Africa so the media coverage of his trial will be astounding. Police had apparently been called to Pistorius' apartment before to settle disputes between the two and there have been accusations that Pistorius' had a massive temper due to "roid-rage." As the trial unfolds more will come out about what exactly happened that night. Pistorius' has already lost some of his sponsors and more continue to leave. One very unfortunate ad that I saw was a picture of Pistorius leaving his starting blocks with the line, "I am the bullet in the chamber." Innocent at the time but now those words take on a whole new meaning.

I have found as I've gotten older that I have a harder time attempting to stay neutral in cases such as this. Crimes of this nature, especially if fueled by rage-inducing steroids are terrible. But, sometimes, these are the consequences from men who choose to do whatever possible to succeed. The case of Lance Armstrong is another example, though, many argue, that his cheating resulted in millions of dollars worth of funding for cancer research. The line continues to blur. And morality continues to suffer. Til next time.

Dave

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Trying to Leave a Legacy

Hello All!

I hope this post finds you well. So much has happened. It has been some time since my last post and I apologize for the gap. Things have escalated quickly. When you start signing up for extracurricular's in law school, you can't exactly guess how much time you are going to have to dedicate to each enterprise. My personal pledge of time is usually quite significant as I get really into whatever I am doing and tend to zone everything else out. Well, in law school, that's not really an option as I still have to stay diligent with my classes. It's a constant balancing act, but with practice, it makes every day busy and interesting, and, at the end, that's all you can really ask for. To be challenged, as frequently as possible. I wanted to post a story about an issue that I have blogged about in the past, that of NCAA athletes being paid for their competition.

http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/8895337/judge-rules-ncaa-athletes-legally-pursue-television-money

(link courtesy of ESPN). A judge has dismissed a motion by the NCAA to prevent college athletes from trying to pursue a share of television contracts. This isn't yet the knockout blow in the case against the NCAA, but it is a small victory for those players who maintain that they should be compensated for their competition. The case is a very big deal considering how much money (especially television contracts) is tied up in these conferences and NCAA championships. The case has been scheduled for argument on June 20.

In other news, I am now in my final semester of law school and am preparing to take the Bar exam. There will be many more posts concerning this upcoming test. I don't think I can compose all my thoughts as of right now. So much more to come!

All the best,
Dave

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hope Springs from New Job with the Center for Global Justice

Today, I am feeling much more at peace about beginning this semester; last week, not so much. Coming back is always hard, but then Philippians and Hebrews reminded me that I must persevere! This will be an incredibly rewarding semester for me. One of the reasons I chose to come to Regent Law was the Center for Global Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law. This wonderful organization at the Law School works to promote justice through partnership collaboration, awareness building, and equipping law students and professions to advocate for the “least of these.” I have volunteered on the Student Volunteer Team for the past year researching potential partner organizations and researching Teen Courts around the nation, for the prospect of starting one here in the Virginia Beach area. Now, I am excited to have the opportunity to work for the Center as a Graduate Assistant. This is very exciting, because it means I will get to be more intimate with the Center’s partners, events, and procedures. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from this wonderful team! They really seem to understand the power of God in advocating and promoting justice for those who cannot speak for themselves. The Center works in several areas: the legal protection of children (my favorite!), human trafficking, corrupt government issues, the rule of law development, and religious freedom. One of the reasons for the peace that will come with this job is knowing that I am doing something I really enjoy. Law school is not always enjoyable, but this is an opportunity to do something tangible that I am passionate about and hope will become a career, regardless of how that looks in regard to the legal profession!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tis the Season

This week begins finals weeks for us! Monday, I had my first exam in Constitutional Law 1. It was difficult and took every bit of attention I had at 9am on a monday morning, during a three hour exam. By God's grace, I am 1 exam down. That is reason to rejoice in itself. I really enjoyed Con Law this semester. We learned so much more than the Constitution; we get to learn about history and how our Constitution was developed based on the common law in England and the English King and Parliament system, as well as what the Framers of our Constitution had in mind. Learning about the Founders' ideas of federalism, separation of powers, and the roles each branch would have puts today's political atmosphere in perspective. The Framers would have no idea how huge the government has become or how much discretion judges would have in deciding "cases and controversies." I've really learned a lot in this class and I'm excited for Con Law 2, but mostly I'm glad it's over! Now, I have a research article due on friday and three exams next week. I'm remembering how I felt last year: long days, much exhaustion, lots of notecards and tired hands! All in all, I'm excited for how much I'm learning, how my memory is expanding, and how the Lord is coming through for me. It has also given me a chance to have some serious relationship building time, while preparing and "sharing in the suffering" with my colleagues and roommates!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Update

The Lord has been teaching me so many things in the past few months. I have been reminded a lot lately as to why I am in law school and what the Lord is training me for. I am currently learning about rule of law development and have listened to many prominent people, who have written constitutions for other countries and have helped develop democracies in post-war countries. It has been very interesting to see bright-eyed people with big hopes for governmental reform actually go to other countries and seek the Lord's heart for reform, some with success and some not so much. Simultaneously, I have been writing a paper on the rule of law in Guatemala regarding the adoption system and its current reputation for "baby stealing." This has become a very interesting topic that unfortunately has spawned as a result of unethical attorneys and government notaries.  The people supposedly upholding the rule of law are actually destroying it. While the government is trying to remedy these accusations, much time and effort is still to come. I have been gaining a greater understanding of and passion for the protection of children, particularly in developing countries where the rule of law is not so transparent or stable. The Lord has been allowing me to meet missionaries and attorneys (some are missionary lawyers as I'd like to call them), who are working with street prostitutes, adoption, and trafficking victims. The more I learn about human rights issues and neglect for child welfare around the world, the more I desire to work in the rule of law and help developing countries research and develop good laws to protect their children in a way that comports with their culture. One piece of advice I have taken away from my International Development and the Rule of Law class is that it is very possible that God could use me as a law student, who is passionate about child welfare, to effect rule of law change if I take the initiative.

I visited my parents in Costa Rica, and they are doing wonderful! Their Spanish is coming along so well. The Lord allowed us to meet some awesome believers who have family members working in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, as well as friends working with street prostitutes and street kids in San Jose, CR.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

2L year

Last week, I came home from D.C. and moved into my new apartment with a two friends from church. I am happy to admit I am starting this school year much more enthusiastic than I was at the end of last year. The Lord has really rejuvenated my heart this summer through my work with CCAI. My newly found knowledge about adoption and foster care issues has propelled me toward advocacy and the study of these issues, as well as child welfare as a whole. I am starting this year aiming to work with all of my heart towards child welfare issues, so that whatever papers I have to write or projects I'm assigned they will be devoted towards my understanding and comprehension of child welfare! I am so excited that God is showing me how all of my classes pertain to child welfare. This semester, I am taking Immigration Law (necessary for children born in the U.S. to immigrants who are sometimes deported, leaving their children in U.S. foster care, or citizenship issues regarding intercountry adoptions), International Development and the Rule of Law (I will be writing a paper on the rule of law in Guatemala or Ethiopia regarding family and adoption laws), Family Law (discussing topics like Family break down and how that influences our laws),  a Child Advocacy Practicum (I will work on a particular project with juveniles in the justice system), Constitutional Law 1, and Evidence. This year should bring new awareness about child welfare issues in the U.S. and around the world and will be a great motivation for me to continue toward the call God has given me.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Last week at CCAI

Unfortunately my time has ended here in DC. I dropped off my coworker today at the Airport, and she is headed back to her 3L year at Texas Tech. She was such a blessing to work with, because she too has a strong passion for child welfare, which is not the typical path for most law students. Quite frankly, we want to help those who may never be able to pay us. I spent all of Friday dropping off certificates in each of the Senate houses. It was so exciting to be in the Senate buildings and meet some of the staffers. They really are fun people and passionate about their causes, but they are also very kind. I enjoyed visiting the offices of Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Bill Nelson, my Senators from Florida! Their staff were very friendly, and I am proud to say they are participating in CCAI's program Angels in Adoption. This program is an opportunity for Members of Congress to recognize individuals and agencies in their districts or states who are doing amazing work in foster care or adoption. Some of the "Angels" have fostered dozens of children, some hundreds!!, some have adopted 2 to 15 children, some are doing excellent advocacy. The Angels come to DC and are recognized in a Gala and a pinning ceremony, in which they can take pictures with their Senator or Representative. It is a special time to recognize those doing a great work and bring awareness of adoption and foster care issues. I'm proud to be apart of it and am challenged to foster and adopt myself if they Lord provides me with the opportunity (not like we are short of opportunity in this country).

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Final Report and Congressional Briefing

Our deadline for the FYI's report was supposed to be last wednesday, but our faithful Programs Director got the publish date pushed back until the next day. I thought I would finally get some sleep, but lo and behold I stayed in the office diligently working until 4am Thursday morning (that is after being there since 9am Wednesday morning). I can now say that I have slept on the job! I ended up leaving the office at 7am while the paid staff continued to work until 10am when it was finally finished. The process was tedious and laborious, but we managed to edit every page twice over and then again! My coworkers were absolutely amazing and were a blessing to work with, even at 4am. My boss at CCAI is a Regent Law alum and two of her friends, also Regent Law alums, came to help edit at midnight. I think this speaks so highly of the Regent community. The Foster Youth Interns did so well at the briefing. We had the briefing at the Capitol Tuesday night, and several Members of Congress showed up and gave remarks. The youth shared their stories and policy recommendations with the Members and child welfare stakeholders. They truely looked like professionals, and I was super proud. They were very composed and articulate, and now, they are published writers! The process has really shaped and cut my character so much- from all the editing, working with the interns to shape their story, and problem solving with staff members. I know I am a better professional, advocate, and writer because of the process. At the end of the report every year, the staff include an outline of a star, which is to remember that we absolutely could not have done it without the help of our God.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Report Writing Weekend

This weekend I have been working with our foster youth interns to help them find research, write, and edit their reports for Congress. We spent all day yesterday in the office working, which was so much fun! There are about 11 CCAI staff and 4 CCAI interns and 13 Foster Youth Inters in a little townhouse office building. There is food everywhere and lots of it, we started the day today singing a song a co-worker made up about good attitudes, and I'm getting to learn all of the FYIs' personal stories. I have been working with an FYI on her report about the use of psychotropic medication in foster children. I am learning several things about the use of psychotropic medication with foster youth: 1) children 1-5 years old are being prescribed anti-psychotic medication, 2) many youth are being prescribed this medication without even obtaining second opinions, 3) judges often provide consent for the agency to prescribe the meds, 4) children aren't being given an option of whether they want to take them, and 5) this medication is often prescribed to these kids without first seeing how they do with counseling or a change in environment. It is no surprise that a child ages 2-11 are going to act crazy! They will act out, their personality changes, boys are tough and rough, and girls get serious attitudes- throw physical, emotion, and psychological abuse, neglect, and violence on top of that and no wonder these children are not coping! It is so sad that these children are not given the care and attention they need after experiencing these types of trauma. Instead, they are given 3 or more antipsychotic medications and are labeled ADHD, Bipolar, extremely agressive, etc. While the government is beginning to take a look at these issues, a lot of decisions need to be made on how to prioritize the well-being of these children. Just like you and I, they need someone to listen and really care for them, especially if the government wants them to grow up like any other non-agency child.

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's the small things that matter most:

This weekend I had the opportunity to meet a new friend. One of my friends from Regent has a brother who was just assigned to an Army unit here in the Arlington area. It was so much fun to roam around DC and Georgetown with a friend! It's hard getting to know people here, no matter how outgoing you are. I think it's easier to feel completely alone in big city like DC than in a smaller town. Not everyone is super friendly. I have been shoved on the metro and yelled at for not moving fast enough, and no one ever looks me in the eye, which is one of the most frustrating things about being here. In contrast, it was encouraging to be around a christian brother; I hope that he was encouraged as well.  We found all of the amazing foreign Embassies here in DC and drove around the National Cathedral, Georgetown, and Potomac. It's amazing to see how beautiful and big the buildings are, even the homes! More than getting to wander DC, it's encouraging to know that I am a part of God's family. I had never met this friend before; actually, his sister connected us only the day before, but we immediately had things to talk about simply because we are both believers and a part of God's kingdom. Once again, the Lord has shown me that He has not forgotten me but has brought a friend to enjoy the time with, even if only for a season.


I talked to my dad tonight and they are safely in Costa Rica. They officially started their first language class today!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I am continuing to learn new things every day and am completely inspired by what I am learning. Recently, I had an amazing opportunity to have lunch with a woman from the United Nations committee for Children's Rights. She is an incredible woman who is passionate about child welfare around the world and knowing how to approach difficult discussions with effective action. Today, I also had the pleasure of meeting the former special advisor for adoption and vulnerable children from the US Agency for International Development. He was so kind and told me how he ended up doing child welfare work, as well as what USAID does for children overseas and families wanting to adopt from overseas. He was gracious to listen to me rave about my parents who moved overseas today to start preparation for their work at an orpanage and as a nurse in the community. The great thing about child welfare is that everyone has a personal story to tell - about how they ended up working where they are - because at some point in each of our lives we experience child welfare issues first hand through adoption, foster care, poverty, etc. Although I am learning an immense amount and loving every moment of it, I am realizing how much I miss working face to face with clients. I miss the personal interactions with those experiencing these issues. I think the legislative process is wonderful and is something I hope to do one day. However, I am getting excited to see what it would look like to be on the front lines of child welfare through organizations like Guardian Ad Litem, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), or state social services. Needless to say, the past few weeks have been wonderful in spite of heavy storms and loss of power for several days. Tomorrow, I will attend meetings with Congressional staff regarding barriers to interstate adoptions from foster care in the United States and how those barriers are keeping children from being adopted. I am excited to attend becasue I was allowed to set up these meetings for a stakeholder who is coming to DC specifically to meet with Congressional staff. The next few weeks will be incredibly busy as we prepare for our Foster Youth Intern Report and their Congressional briefing!

Next time I would love to share what I am learning about the Indian Nation and Native American child welfare issues. This is a subject I am becoming increasingly aware of and very interested in.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Every Child Deserves a Forever Home!

The past few weeks have been quite amazing. When I applied to work with CCAI I had no idea of the magnitude of what I'd be doing and the impact it would have on me. They say that law school changes the way you think forever (and it's true); you become more analytical and question everything. Well, working with CCAI has also changed the way I think. Not only do I analyze the laws and the way they are made, I've begun to analyze the way I respond to daily life compared to the way a child in foster care would. I have gotten to meet and work with the most amazing 15 youth. They are a group of 15 college students who grew up in the foster care system for many different reasons, but by no fault of their own. Not that my experience is anything remotely close to theirs, but I feel like my parents moving overseas is giving me a glimpse of what it might feel like to be a foster youth. I don't want to diminish their experience in any way but it's interesting to make some comparisons. You wonder where you will go when you don't feel well and you can't call mom or who will help you learn how to fix things when you can't call dad, or where you will spend holidays. Who's there to help when you get into a financial bind? That's why a lot of these youth end up homeless or being trafficked. The worst part about our foster care system is that all the measurable definations pertaining to the "permenancy" of foster youth have nothing to do with stability!! Who has "permenancy" without stability, and who has stability without existing and lasting relationships? No one. That's what makes my situation completely different. I still have existing and stable relationships with friends and church family, who I know will be there if I needed something.

Our foster youth interns are working with congress members and CCAI to change legsilation for their peers in the foster care system and all those who will come behind them. Tuesday we sat in a Senate Finance Committee roundtable hosted by the Congressional Caucus for Foster Youth. Our youth and others shared their stories and talked about how a piece of legislation that was written about 15 years ago effected their lives. What's amazing is that the people who wrote the legislation were present and were surprised by what it had become- totally different!

I've gotten to see how legislation moves through various parties: from the time those in the field recognize it as a problem to the time it is inacted into legislation. I'm constantly on conference calls with working professionals, stakeholder agencies, congressional staffers, and citizens who have been directly impacted by bad or outdated laws. Creating laws is all about relationships...finding the right people who can strategize in an effective manner to influence the right people. I am constantly attending meetings and networking with all kinds of people. I'm so thankful for the chance to learn all that I am learning. I'm still not sure if policy is what I want to get into, but I'm learning so much that it will prepare me for anything I hope to do later on. I'm so thankful for this opportunity!

Friday, June 1, 2012

First two weeks on the job!

The first two weeks on the Hill have been awesome! I love the organization and even the assignments I've been working on. The main goal of our organization is to help educate congress members on foster care and adoption issues and provide a forum to connect members of congress to professionals working in the field. The first day was a bit crazy because I was reading proposed bills that had been introduced in Congress and I was supposed to summarize them for the members in the Congressional Coalition for Adoption. It took a bit longer than I anticipated because they had to do with the adoption tax credit, which is so technical, but by God's mercy I finished it. We are currently working on an adoption tax credit because the extension will expire at the end of the year. This week, our Foster Youth Interns arrived. They are 15 college students, who have spent at least two years in foster care and will be working with a Congress member for about 8 weeks on the Hill. This is an awesome way for the students to interact with Congress members and show the members a first hand account of what actually happens in the foster care system. Yesterday, I attended a Town Hall for the Caucus on Foster Care under the Capitol building. It was very informative; in fact, an issue was brought up which I am very interested in. One of the foster youth talked about how she was in the foster care system and ended up being trafficked. This is an area I would love to explore and work in. I never realized that some children in our foster care system end up being sexually exploited, not in the United States.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fear and Courage

This past week has been filled with emotion: fear of going into an invironment that is totally new and completely out of my comfort zone, sadness of leaving my new family and friends in Virginia Beach, and the excitement of starting to see God opening doors with things that excite me (adoption/ foster care work). I spent the week packing up my apartment and moving it to Bethesda, Maryland, which is where I'll be staying for the next 3.5 months while I working in D.C. I moved in yesterday and set up my new place, complete with one plastic 3-drawer container, a blow up matress, and a plastic bin! Welcome to missionary training?! I got creative and it looks like home for now. I took the metro this morning and found my job, and now i'm sitting at a Starbucks across from the Capitol! D.C. is definately a city for professionals, which is a part of the fear of coming here. I don't see myself as a city dweller and feel a bit out of place. I keep being reminded of Abraham who picked up everything he had and left and wandered for about 10 years. I only have 3 months! I'm kind of a wimp; so, it's a good thing I was reading about faith this morning. Satan tempted Jesus in Matthew 4, and Jesus never asked for a sign or a miracle. He fought Satan and the temptation to sin with the word of God alone. So often I ask for God to give me a sign that He is present and working. God is still powerful and already at work at the Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute (my internship). He has already paved the path and it is set. I plan to take the advice God gave Joshua and be strong and very courageous for the Lord is help rock and my salvation, my fortress in times of trouble (or fright). Although I am anxious, I am excited to see what God will do here in Washington D.C.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Summer Plans

Well, this summer has brought with it new challenges and exciting adventures. Once again, I am reminded that the Lord has me in law school for a different reason than most people, or at least a different plan towards potentially the same result. I took a visit to the Virginia Beach city jail last week and got to meet the chaplains, who apparently go to my church and I didn't realize it. Myself and two friends from the doctoral psychology program took a tour of the womens side of the jail. The inmates told us about the chaplain's Life Empowerment Program and how they became incarcerated. The program is very interesting because these 10 ladies are isolated from the general population of women and go through an intensive bible study course. They do about 3 studies a day, on their own and in groups, and they have only christian movies, music, and books to entertain themselves. The psych girls and I debriefed a few days later and we came up with some interesting questions about the program, how the ladies were progressing, and how we felt about it as christians who want to offer mercy but also want to see real results. It is easy to have a somewhat jaded perspective when inmates say they have changed in prison, especially if you have any personal experience with jail programs or people who are or have been incarcerated. It's a terrible to think this way, but so often people disappoint us. The psychology students are planning to get involved with the program as a part of their class project, and I am considering helping. Interestingly, I'm turning away from an opportunity to be apart of a law school activity, which at first I felt really guilty about. Then, I remembered how much I love working with people, especially the outcasts. I think the Lord may be shifting my heart away from the typical academic approach to law school, what I feel is expected of a "successful law student," to be involved in the trenches elsewhere maybe in the jail, maybe legal aid, or maybe pro bono work for some firm. The Lord has been showing my strengths and weaknesses and still He is opening doors. I may not be a strong academic, but if I can help overworked attorneys during law school by providing free help, especially to those who work with society's outcasts, then I think it will be worth rearranging my priorities.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Resolve to Live And Practice Law As Chief Justice Hassell Did

Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr., was an amazing example of what it looks like to integrate the Christian faith with the practice of law.  I only had the privilege of hearing him speak once while I was at Regent, but my dear classmate, Ms. Farnaz Farkish, served as his law clerk.  Right before he went to be with the Lord in February 2011, she penned the following resolution which gives you just a glimpse of what this man of God was like as a man, father, and jurist: Resolution: Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr.

Let us resolve to live and practice law with the same excellence, love, humility and faith that he did!

Resolve to Live And Practice Law As Chief Justice Hassell Did

Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr., was an amazing example of what it looks like to integrate the Christian faith with the practice of law.  I only had the privilege of hearing him speak once while I was at Regent, but my dear classmate, Ms. Farnaz Farkish, served as his law clerk.  Right before he went to be with the Lord in February 2011, she penned the following resolution which gives you just a glimpse of what this man of God was like as a man, father, and jurist: Resolution: Chief Justice Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr.

Let us resolve to live and practice law with the same excellence, love, humility and faith that he did!

Monday, April 30, 2012

No longer a 1L

Well, I made it through my first year of law school. I walked out of my last exam and saw a sign that said "congratulations 1Ls." I wasn't sure if I was going to cry or shout for joy. I can't believe it is over already. It seems like it just started, yet so much has happened since then. Coming out of the first year, I'm not exactly sure how it happened but I'm certain it was the Lord. They tell us coming into the first year that it is the most difficult year of law school and that you won't talk to your friends and rarely your family. They told us that it would be the hardest year of our lives and thus far I believe them. I'm sure i've never studied harder, ever! All in all, I know that I have gained so many new friends, a new appreciation for and dependence on Christ, and a whole new way of thinking and analyzing. Now that I've survived a year of law school, I don't think the same way as before. If not for the analytical frame of mind, law terms and theories are triggered in my mind frequently. I'm so thankful for my community and all that I've learned. It goes to show that pain is gain and sometimes you have to push a little harder to really see what you're capable of- usually it is more than you imagine! Now, I get to relax for a bit, have a cup of coffee, and finally enjoy the tv (without the pressure of looming work)!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Critical Importance of Christian Attorney Mentorship

Here is a link to an excellent article on the importance of Christian Attorney Mentorship written by my friend D.L. Morriss who practices for a big firm here in Chicago. This blog is actually a testament to the mentorship that I have received over the years from attorneys in my firm, the Christian Legal Society, and at Regent University School of Law.

If you, as a lawyer or law student, are interested in being mentored/discipled by a Christian attorney in your area, I would encourage you to reach out to the Christian Legal Society at www.clsnet.org and plug-in to a local chapter.

I would also encourage everyone to check out Regent's own mentoring community: http://www.regentalumni.org/s/832/1col.aspx?sid=832&gid=27&pgid=254&cid=952