By Drew Cauthorn
I have, of late, been reading the Torah and the accompanying commentary written by a Jewish scholar. One can’t read the Torah without getting into the subject of “holy.” The Torah teaches that God’s presence is what makes a place holy.
Which leads to a question — what in my office, what in the way I live and practice law, invites God to be present to make my work life and work place holy?
That question was not on the radar screen when I planned my new office back in 1984 after I had headed out on my own; though, I can say that when I met with the decorator I told her I wanted a place that felt safe, where people would feel comfortable.
Some years into the practice, one of my clients, a fine, older gentleman, was sued by the U.S. government for allegedly overcharging on a government contract. I referred him to a litigator. The government sought to take the gentleman’s deposition and he initially refused, which would have resulted in his forfeiture. The litigator called me to ask if the deposition could be taken in my office — the gentleman refused to have his deposition taken unless it was taken in my office. I believe he was not willing to have his deposition taken elsewhere because he felt safe in my office.
Another thing I recall when I was opening my office was choosing stationery and a business card. I intentionally chose to put on it “Attorney and Counselor at Law” rather than just “Attorney at Law” because I wanted to be more than just an attorney.
I did not think of Isaiah 9:6 (“And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor”) when I chose to put “Counselor of Law” on my card but as I reflect now, I believe there was an underlying desire for the Wonderful Counselor to be present with me and my clients.
My experience is that clients often come in with specific legal problems they want resolved with desired outcomes. However, what sometimes emerges, when a client is listened to and questioned, is something entirely different — an underlying burr, a hurt, a worry that fuels the legal issue at hand. When that “something” is brought into the light, all kinds of creative possibilities open up. Those are moments of grace that I am privileged to be present for.
Karl Jung said, “Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” I’m thankful that is so. I’m also thankful that we have open to us avenues for inviting the Holy to be present where we live and where we work.
Drew Cauthorn is a sole practitioner and Of Counsel to the law firm of Hornberger Sheehan Fuller & Beiter. He is a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San AntonioTX. Reach him at Drew@cauthornlaw.com