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Dear Gramps,

If a lawyer helps a plaintiff win an unjust case that sorely hurts the lives of a defendant and his family, will the lawyer have to answer for it someday at the judgment bar of God?  Or will the Lord say that he was just “doing his job”, regardless of the consequences?






Dear Robert,

I understand your concern, however, lawsuits are rarely black and white like that in the real world.  In almost any conflict, neither side is completely right.  The lawyer’s job is to argue the strengths of whatever side he is on.  I spoke with a friend, who is a lawyer about your question.  He said, “I have been involved in dozens of cases, and in all of them, while one side may have the advantage regarding the facts surrounding the case, both sides had positions that were arguable.”

The truly black and white cases that would be unjust to defend usually don’t make it very far – they get thrown out by the court (and the attorneys can be sanctioned for bringing these cases of “frivolous litigation”).  It’s also important to note that the lawyer is bound by professionally-defined ethical constraints as well as his own conscience in *how* (s)he represents the client.

Could an LDS lawyer represent a landlord in evicting a defaulting widow and her six children; or defend a rapist?  Sure.  Would he/she do so using the terms of a rent contract  known to be a forgery; or by offer an alibi from witness testimony he or she knows to be fraudulent?  Nope.  It’s not whether you win or lose—or even, in most cases, what side you’re on—that God cares about; it’s how you play the game.

And being a lawyer does offer unique opportunities to make peace; and lawyers are under a moral obligation to try to spot those sorts of opportunities.  There’s an apocryphal story about Lincoln being retained to collect an outstanding debt of $2.50.  Lincoln collected a flat fee of $5, paid the *defendant* $2.50 (which he immediately used to pay off the debt ), and kept the rest.






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