Exploring Our Calling at the Christian Legal Institute

Kinsey Brockie, 3rd Year Law Student & Summer Intern at Christian Legal Fellowship

Before going to law school people often asked me what I wanted to do. Once I got into law school, people began asking what type of law I wanted to practice. I think people are asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking what I want to do, they need to be asking who I want to be. Not what type of law do I want to practice, but what kind of lawyer do I want to be. Attending the Christian Legal Institute helped affirm my answer to these questions.

Founded in 2009, the beginning of May brings with it the annual Christian Legal Institute in London, Ontario. This year, from May 2nd-6th, 25 students and young professionals from across the country came together to learn from leading Christian thinkers and legal practitioners about the importance of integrating our faith and professional calling. Throughout the week, students grappled with questions about worldview and foundations of law; challenges to fundamental freedoms; current issues in education; and the sanctity of life.

Having first attended the Institute as a delegate before going to law school in 2014, it was a privilege to be invited back to serve as a mentor to this year’s students. It was at the CLI that I was first introduced to Christian Legal Fellowship and the community of committed believers who make up its membership. Within my first week at the University of Ottawa, I was able to connect with our student chapter and later became one of its leaders. Being a part of CLF has been foundational in helping to shape my understanding of my legal career as a calling. The idea behind being “called to the bar” takes on a whole new meaning when we reflect on who is calling us and what He’s calling us to do.

We began the week looking at the moral foundations of the law and whether there is still a place for morality within the law. We discussed the idea that all law and all people are religious and everyone has a doctrine – even secularists.

Given the weight of the many topics discussed throughout the week, the upcoming Trinity Western Appeals being heard by courts across our country, and legislation regulating physician-assisted suicide, we turned to Jeremiah 29 to better understand the role we as Christians should play in our culture. We read the letter sent to the Israelites from the prophet Jeremiah after being taken captive by the Babylonians and living in a culture not dissimilar from our own – where boundaries are being blurred and long-established structures are disappearing. In his letter, Jeremiah sends a message from the Lord instructing the Israelites to build houses and settle down – to build a foundation in Babylon, to marry and start families, and to pray for peace and prosperity for the city to which they have been sent.

It is here, in the height ofchallenges to our faith,that we read God’s words about His plan to give us a hope and a future. We can be encouraged that not even Babylonian captivity could prevent the fulfillment of God’s promise for His people. Although we know that our time on earth is temporary, like the Israelites, we too need to be engaged with the culture that we live in – to multiply and to make disciples and to show up even when we feel like we are walking into the lion’s den. The only way to properly interact with culture is to create it, resting in the truth that the Lord will reconcile all things for His good.

Another theme we focused on throughout the week was serving God with our minds. As we invite the Holy Spirit to fill our minds we will be transformed by the renewal of our minds so that we are able to test and discern the will of God as we engage with the world around us.

The Christian Legal Institute provides training that is second to none. It is an incredible privilege to spend a week learning from respected theologians and leading legal minds. In addition to taking time out of their schedules to prepare a message and coming to speak to students, they are genuinely invested in our growth and ability to defend our faith in the public sphere. “Through the study of case law and theology, I emerge from the Institute with a greater understanding of the intersection of Christianity and the law, culture and society. I have been encouraged to test my worldview against God’s standard of truth” (2016 Delegate).

Upon reflection of their time at the Institute, delegates further remarked:

  • “This time [at the Institute] of discipleship, edification, and fellowship has left my cup overflowing. On one hand it overflows with information…On the other hand it overflows with God’s love.”
  •  “I was introduced to an entirely different field [of law]…I found all the material refreshing and valuable… I now truly appreciate what Christian lawyers do.”
  • “I appreciate how God uses both these ministries [CLF and the Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity] to train and equip young Christians to understand the importance of living a Godly lifestyle and integrating our faith with our careers and everything we do”
  • “Thank you for an amazing time of spiritual edification and intellectual growth.”
  • “[The CLI] is not your everyday conference – I would say it was divinely orchestrated by God to bring together individuals of the faith irrespective of our denominations and backgrounds.”
  • “After completing my first year of law school, I needed to be reminded why the Lord has called me into this field… I left the CLI feeling challenged and cheered on to be a faithful witness wherever Christ calls me.”