We often get asked whether lawyers can be honest Christians?
Highly improbable, when you consider the work lawyers are required to do, is there such a thing as an honest lawyer?
Another question asked: Is there such a thing as a Christian law firm? Unlikely, when you think about running a legal firm with its complexities as toil enough…and then add the conscience of its practitioners? Double toil.
So…can a Christian international legal network exist that take steps to empower Christian legal individuals? Impossible right…not quite so.
The old cliché of ‘be careful what you wish for’ certainly rings true when used in the spiritual context of ‘being careful what you pray for.’
It is said that a vision from the Lord creates a mission from heaven. This new legal network was a God given vision birthed and manifested. Habakkuk 2:2-3 says, “Then the LORD answered me and said, ‘Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay…”.
In 2015, a Christian law firm in Brisbane, were praying for an opportunity to be able to grow a group of like-minded Christian lawyers that would could learn, encourage and impact their world. The lawyers were from completely different cultural backgrounds, working in a foreign country to their own, but felt that God had placed in their heart to pilot a movement that went beyond just law and beyond their borders to provide support, encouragement and prayer to Christian lawyers in other jurisdictions. A fanciful idea, but when you pray for inkling in spirit, the result can take form and shape beyond imagination.
They prayed and fasted for 6 weeks committing their lunch hours this God-idea placed within them. At the end of the fasting period, God orchestrated a meeting between the Directors of Corney & Lind Lawyers, Brisbane and the Principal of Shekinah Law, Fiji. The two Christian firms discovered that the vision and ethos of the firms were similar. What began as a conversation led to a seeking in spirit for where God was leading.
In January 2016, a further conversation took place in Suva, Fiji and built on the foundations of Isaiah 51:4d “My justice will become a light to the nations”, the Kingdom International Legal Network (KILN) was formed to inspire Christians in the legal community to see and conduct their work as a calling to Kingdom Ministry.
The spearhead group were the Corney & Lind Team, Andrew Lind, Alistair Macpherson and Heilala Tabete, along with the Shekinah Law Team, Laurel Vaurasi and Romulo Nayacalevu. The purpose of KILN is to inspire Christians in the legal community to see and conduct their work as a calling to Kingdom Ministry. This can be done through spiritual friendships where there is a desire for deep and abiding friendships to form beyond each of our borders and that those relationships will form the basis for mutual encouragement in the journey of Christian faith as legal professionals. These relationships may result in mentoring, resource sharing and lawyer exchange programs. What comes to mind is Hebrews 12:1 – that we could develop friendships and relationships with other professionals that could assist us to lay aside the encumbrance, and let us run the race before us as legal professionals. KILN is intentionally multi-denominational. Each trunk and branch of the church represents part of the body of Christ. Diversity and difference will be welcomed by KILN as an expression of unity in the body of Christ and opportunity to learn from one another, encourage one another, and support one another.
In August 2016, this vision was furthered in the first Lawyer Exchange and Development (LEAD) Program between Corney and Lind Lawyers Brisbane, Australia and Shekinah Law Suva, Fiji.
The LEAD program allowed for a lawyer from each firm to be seconded for one month to the corresponding firm. As well as building lasting relationships, this secondment was designed to provide the lawyer with career and professional development, teaching them to think broadly outside of their comfort zone and legal areas of practice in a foreign jurisdiction.
Seruwaia Masi, Associate from Shekinah Law had the opportunity to join the Corney & Lind family for one month. Coming from a family law background, Seruwaia fit into the Corney & Lind family law litigation team without skipping a beat noting that there were many similarities in Fiji’s Family Law Act 2005 and the Family Law Act of Australia. Seruwaia was also exposed to new practice areas including School Law, Leasing and Employment which she intends to broaden her practice in Fiji.
James Tan, Associate from Corney & Lind Lawyers flew to Fiji and practiced in Suva during the exchange. James gained temporary admission to practice and appeared in local courts across Suva. He was also given the opportunity to deliver external presentations to the Fiji Christian Legal Fellowship, where he enjoyed integrating examples of local hero’s like Ben Ryan and local food like Kokoda in the application of law, file management and growing a firm.
The exchange was beneficial to both lawyers sent and received and the hosting firms. The exchange is unique in that there is no tangible financial benefit. As is the counter-culture in Kingdom growth, sacrifice is often required. However, the character growth and spiritual maturity that emerges from sent and received lawyers shows that the experience is one, money cannot buy, which is a manifestation of a spiritual alignment.
If you are a Christian lawyer or a local firm that has Christian values and principles? Are you are keen to broaden your horizon by working with other Christian lawyers outside of your jurisdiction or an employer that would like to see your legal staff grow in a Christian cultural experience that will leave their lives enriched? Consider joining KILN and read about the LEAD Program between law firms that you connect with through the Kingdom International Legal Network. For more information visit www.kiln.online
(Authors: Heilala Tabete & Chris Borrell, Corney & Lind Lawyers, Brisbane and Seruwaia Masi, Shekinah Law, Suva)