Discernment: Attorney or Priest?

Hello everyone,

I am discerning between two vocations in my life right now. Either becoming an attorney or becoming a priest.

Attorney: I have always loved the law and arguing it. I have such a strong desire to argue and debate the law and spend time in the courtroom. Every time I have ever been in a courtroom I have always felt wonderful and almost at home. I also am very brilliant and love to use my knowledge of logic, rhetoric, and philosophy on a daily basis.


Priest: Many family members of mine have expressed that I should discern the priesthood and I have thought of it myself, as well. One of my family members has told me that I am more Catholic than most Catholics they know. I practice a lot of devotions that a priest would from praying the Liturgy of the Hours and rosary daily to having a personal altar set up in my closet that I use to center myself around God. Also, one thing that has been centered and repeated over and over again in my mind is the Psalm response from Mass a few weeks ago, “You are a Priest forever in the line of Melchizedek”


I was wondering if you could give me any helpful suggestions as to discernment or increasing my spirituality or your personal opinion as to what to do. I feel a leaning in the direction of Attorney but I would not want to miss out on the call of God. So, can you please give me some helpful tips or maybe ideas for increasing my spirituality.

On another note, can you give me suggestions other than just “Talk to my Priest”?

God’s blessings be with you all!


I can see that God may be calling you to both. You could study Cannon Law and not just government law, as well as apologetics, where you would be arguing faith and morals. That is can be part of being a priest, being able to convey and argue faith effectively with anyone.

Try getting a spiritual director to help you with your discernment. I know it has really helped me as I discern my vocation.

God Bless you.

A person who God calls to the priesthood is involved in many layers as they discern. Of course, when you hear that little voice inside you have to check it out but there is a lot of help out there to do this. Check in with your parish priest and see where it goes from there. In my opinion, there is a possibility that you could actually do both.

I know two priests that are attorneys. You could possible do both.

Read Fr. Brett Brennan’s book To Save A Thousand Souls. It’ll help you discern.

The two paths are not mutually incompatible (I’m living proof of that). Depending on the area of law, an attorney’s job can involve a considerable amount of service to others. Legal training / experience can also be useful in priestly ministry - an order like the Jesuits would easily find use for someone with a law degree.

The Jesuits have priests that are attorneys

. . . I think you have to join the military to study Cannon Law! :slight_smile:

Here’s my 2 cents.

I turned down admission to a Top 20 law school years back. Why? Well, I had a bit of work experience interacting with lawyers, and could see they clearly felt on the sidelines of life. I also took about a half dozen different lawyers and a couple of judges out to lunch, to ask questions and so forth. The upshot is that only one actually liked doing law. Another, in the course of all this, told me it would be great to do something productive with one’s life.

And of course, when you see the psychological implications of a law career you might well get cold feet on it as well!

Economically, it’s expensive and there are likely to be few ways to repay the loans you take out unless (a) you get in a great school and (b) do well there, and © join a large, impersonal corporate law practice in a major city, where you (d) routinely work 70+ hours weekly for a good many years on end.

Much better to be a doctor; sensible as well to go MBA—many things that are interesting can be done in business.

The BEST thing about the priesthood, the thing that most recommends it, I think, is that you’re working with the very guts of people’s lives. The most important things.

I used to think celibacy was a problem. Then, at about age 27, I realized my hormonal clock was not so blasting and I could be continent, more or less, easily enough. It’s tough for guys here: at age 17, it’s quite a demanding thing, but give it a few more years and you might be surprised. . . heck, why not call up a few priests and have a heart to heart on this, and other things.

Personally, I like time alone, so the notion of being on my own in a rectory is not bad at all!!! Much to read, much to do, much to think over and reflect upon.

FINALLY, serve God. That’s really it. If God’s calling you, you’re dishonest if you don’t follow up on it. And hurting yourself.

I read this joke and I thought of you.

On their way to a justice of the peace to get married, a couple has a fatal car accident. The couple is sitting outside heavens gate waiting on St. Peter to do the paperwork so they can enter. While waiting, they wonder if they could possibly get married in Heaven. St. Peter finally shows up and they ask him. St. Peter says, “I don’t know, this is the first time anyone has ever asked. Let me go find out,” and he leaves.

The couple sit for a couple of months and begin to wonder if they really should get married in Heaven, what with the eternal aspect of it all. “What if it doesn’t work out?” they wonder, “Are we stuck together forever?” St. Peter returns after yet another month, looking somewhat bedraggled. “Yes,” he informs the couple, “you can get married in Heaven.” “Great,” says the couple, “but what if things don’t work out? Could we also get a divorce in Heaven?”

St. Peter, red-faced, slams his clipboard onto the ground. “What’s wrong?” exclaims the frightened couple. “Geez!” St. Peter exclaims, “It took me three months to find a priest up here! Do you have any idea how long it’s going to take for me to find a lawyer?”

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