Should I Leave My Law Practice to Write About the Faith


#1

Hello all;

I've been a moderately successful practicing attorney for the past 15 years. But for quite a while I have felt called to do something else with my life. My satisfaction with my chosen career and profession has also been steadily declining over the past few years. More and more, I feel like I am being called to do something in the field of evangelization and apologetics, perhaps writing. But I'm not sure exactly what it is I'm being called to do. Plus, I have a real fear of harming my family by walking away from the steady income of a legal career - especially in today's economy.

Can anyone share some practical advice with me about how to discern if this is a true calling to something else, or just job "burn-out" coupled with a midlife crisis?

Peace,
Robert


#2

I think you answered your own question when you said you wanted "practical advice".

God does call some people to be lawyers. He does not only call people who "aren't good enough for apologetics and evangelization" to be lawyers.

If you need a career change, go for it! But just remember, everything, including what you do not only for an income but all works of evangelization and apologetics, must be ordered to this. The Church does not need another layperson who gets so caught up in "saving souls" that he neglects his family - we have too many of these as it is!


#3

I suggest that you do some writing of articles while you continue your law practice. Submit them to some publications and see what kind of response you receive. If the response is favorable, try doing the writing part time for a while and see how it goes.

Part of evangelizing is being a credible witness to the faith, which includes supporting your family. Make certain your writing can do that before you jump in with both feet.

Betsy


#4

James 5:20; Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

That said; it would be prudent to make sure that you are both a capable and accessible writer; as well as being able to be published and support yourself and family.

I can only advise you to write a few articles whilst keeping your job; and see how it goes.

Best of luck :thumbsup:


#5

[quote="baltobetsy, post:3, topic:200592"]
I suggest that you do some writing of articles while you continue your law practice. Submit them to some publications and see what kind of response you receive. If the response is favorable, try doing the writing part time for a while and see how it goes.

Part of evangelizing is being a credible witness to the faith, which includes supporting your family. Make certain your writing can do that before you jump in with both feet.

Betsy

[/quote]

:thumbsup:

I would also suggest you look into the field of canon law.


#6

I came into your thread thinking the same thoughts as Betsy. Do both for a while, and maybe you might look into practicing law through the Church? Sometimes what we already have in front of us can be of use to God as well. This might bring back a spark of life into your dissatisfaction.

Remember, the Catholic faith is a "both, and" faith rather than an "either, or" faith ;) You could be both a author and a lawyer.


#7

I'm also a lawyer with a similar number of years in practice. It sounds like you have a couple of things going on: a call to a deeper Christian life, a sense of dissatisfaction with practicing law (perhaps associated with midlife issues -- I'd guess you're in your 40s), perhaps more. Practically speaking, it will be hard to jump from law to apologetics and writing and expect to generate any substantial income for some time.

I think that the advice to try writing on apologetics while maintaniing your practice is reasonable. However, I'd also suggest that you work with a spiritual director to help you listen to what God is saying and work through how you should respond to God's call in your life. A life change such as you are contemplating deserves that kind of careful, prayerful thought and decision-making, particularly since the decision will have a dramatic impact on your family too.

Another recommendation is that you consider doing the full Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, which you can do either as a 30-day retreat or spread out over the course of 9 months or so.


#8

It may be merely a difficult phase. I went through a slump last year, myself.

Do go on a retreat and ask God for guidance. That is what I did (my wife was anxious to go on that particular retreat and I wanted for her to - she gets to go tomorrow). Be open to God and avail yourself of whatever helps they have.

In my case, I found strength to continue in my current position.


#9

Thanks to all for the comments. Good stuff here.

Peace,
Robert


#10

Robert,

First pray! Pray before the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration on your knees as often as you can.

**Perhaps your legal experience could help Catholic Answers right there in San Diego?

Maybe start by volunteering with CA or some other Catholic organization to see if you are being called to service full time!**

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!

mark


#11

Why don't you sent a private e-mail to Karl Keating? He left his law practice to start Catholic Answers! I am sure that he would have good advise for you.


#12

[quote="Michael_Saint, post:2, topic:200592"]
God does call some people to be lawyers. He does not only call people who "aren't good enough for apologetics and evangelization" to be lawyers.

[/quote]

When I was young, I used to hear about callings to secular "vocations", but I never hear that any more. When I hear about things of that sort, it's usually in the context of being called to the married life, as opposed to Holy Orders. It's interesting to see this stated here. Would it perhaps be more accurate to say that God calls us to place ourselves in certain situations for a reason, as opposed to a secular profession? And for most people, I wonder if the call is simply to secular (probably married) life.

Well, anyway, I have no advice to offer here at all, other than to note that I'm a married man, with two young children, and that I've been practicing law for 20 years. For many of those 20 I've wanted to do something else, and I've known exactly what that something else is. Worries and second guessing have kept me in the practice of law, combined with the fear that my true aspirations were unrealistic and that following them would harm my family.

Was I right to keep at this? I don't know. But after 20 years, I'm a true secular success, but I regret being in my profession, to some extent, every single day. That's never going to change. But after 20 years of being a lawyer, it's very difficult to get out.

Does this provide a lesson for you? Maybe, maybe not. But I found that as my dislike for the law became more and more intense, my close friends and family usually simply passed it off as a stage, or because I was working on something stressful, and would suggest that as little as a vacation would clear it up. It didn't. Maybe your situation is different.

But, on the other hand, I'm sure just quitting my job and letting my family fend off the economic wolves wouldn't have been good either, and those who always recommended that a person stick with one job until they found another were usually correct.

On writing, it's interesting that I've sometimes received the recommendation that I write. And I used to too, but I no longer have the time to do it. I do think that making a living as a writer is fairly tough, but I don't know that much about it.


#13

On writing about the Faith, I would note, a father should investigate, I'd think, the ability to support his family on that. It stirkes me as something that might be tough to do.


#14

Your first obligation is to your family. Remember.....you've made a solemn vow on your wedding day. If you have children.......you are their father, and are obligated to provide for their welfare as best you can.

On the flip side......if you can engage in some sort of evangelization or scriptural writing (provided that you are qualified to do so), while still providing the needs of your wife and children -- give it a try!

You might start off slowly by offering to write a commentary in some Catholic magazine or local diocesan newspaper. See how it's received......and then go on from there.

Have you ever considered becoming a Pro-Life lawyer? We're desperately in need of them!!!


#15

[quote="BigRedpg51, post:14, topic:200592"]
Have you ever considered becoming a Pro-Life lawyer? We're desperately in need of them!!!

[/quote]

As a Catholic lawyer, which I am, we should all keep the Faith consistent with our practices.

Having said that, one thing I would note is that from the outside it's easy to believe that lawyers can specialize in something close to the Faith. In truth, most of us can eliminate things, or avoid things, that are inconsistent with the Faith. For example, I don't do divorces. But, by the same token, very, very, few lawyers, unless they were financially independent or had low financial needs, can work in something that's very close to the Faith as their focus.

Indeed, the truth of the matter tends to be that most lawyers end up in a practice area they end up in, often due to early job choices. The litigators end up in litigation because their early jobs were in litigation, and so on. Really wise new lawyers try to get a job in an area that they like, or can tolerate. But, and the reason that I mention this, there aren't really very many opportunities, at least that I'm familiar with, for a person to have a practice built upon being a "pro life lawyer."

This is not to say that you cannot be a Catholic lawyer. I've known a few very Catholic lawyers, and I try to be a Catholic lawyer myself. I don't take, as noted above, divorce cases, and I try to keep my actions consistent with the Faith. We should also note, I suppose, that simply being a courtroom lawyer, and I am, can put a person in moral bind continually.

St. Francis de Sales, who had started off to be a lawyer, stated that a lawyer should be able to go from his prayers to his pleadings. I think that's right. But being a lawyer is, after all, principally a secular vocation, and it isn't easy to try to convert it into a religious one and still eat.


#16

There is also the Thomas More Society, which is basically for Catholic lawyers. Anyway, unless you are already overworked, I would suggest retaining your law practice while beginning to write. It can be done.


#17

[quote="Yeoman, post:15, topic:200592"]
But, and the reason that I mention this, there aren't really very many opportunities, at least that I'm familiar with, for a person to have a practice built upon being a "pro life lawyer."

[/quote]

I know that being a "pro-life" lawyer is not very lucrative, and not very popular, but it is an area that there is a desperate need for. Abortion rescuing is beginning again in this country, and it is picking up speed quickly. Pro-lifers who are arrested need good lawyers who are willing to 'buck the system' for the sake of the innocent babies in the womb who are being defended by these rescuers and picketers and sidewalk counselors.

With the active implementation of the F.A.C.E. law (which is beginning to pick up speed), we pro-lifers are truly in need of good Catholic lawyers who will defend us in court when that time comes. Can we afford to pay you? Not likely. But your payment will be made in Heaven for sure.


closed #18

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