To understand why I decided to become a lawyer you have to go back a bit in history – 483 years to be exact. In 1534 Ignatius of Loyola, a former soldier, organized a meeting with 6 other men in the crypt beneath the Church of Saint Pierre de Montmarte outside of Paris, France to form a new religious order. They called themselves the Company of Jesus. Eventually this Order was approved by Pope Paul III and their name was changed to the Society of Jesus. This group is more commonly known as the “Jesuits.” Over the next 5 centuries Jesuit priests and religious founded numerous institutes for higher education throughout the world. The term “Jesuit education” is common in America. Even the current Pontiff, Pope Francis, is a Jesuit. In the end, I went into law to live out the precepts and ideals of the Society of Jesus as created by St. Ignatius 483 years ago.
I am the third generation of my family to receive a Jesuit Education. My grandfather was taught by the Jesuits at St. Peter’s Prep, a high school in Jersey City, New Jersey. My father was taught by the Jesuits at Xavier High School in Manhattan, New York City. While there are no longer any Jesuit high schools in Wichita, I was able to receive that education in both college and law school. I received my college degree from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri and my law degree from St. Louis University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri. For 7 years my higher education was taught with a distinct Jesuit flare.
A Jesuit Education is one focused on service. Jesuit schools are usually in a more “urban” area of a city instead of out in the suburbs. The motto of the Society is “Ad Majorum Dei Gloriam” – “For the Greater Glory of God.” You accomplish this by taking your talents and using them to serve your fellow man. At Rockhurst as a freshman, after moving into the dorms on Saturday, you perform a service project on Sunday. The day before you graduate, you perform a service project. The central tenant of the education is to help other people. Because of my family history and education, I knew I needed to find a career that somehow served other people. I found that answer in the law.
Ultimately a lawyer’s job is to serve the needs of his or her clients. It is to obtain an outcome that benefits someone else. So the “glory” of winning any case really should belong back to the client, because in the end the client is the person who benefits. The lawyer is simply the vehicle for that benefit. I chose to be a lawyer so that I could serve other people. Every case I have is my opportunity to help another person and give back to the client and community through the talents I was blessed with.
A former member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps summed up the Jesuit motto saying “It is a heritage of service. However, whenever and wherever needed. Of leadership in service. To those impoverished in mind, body and spirit. It is a call to respect the dignity of each human, the splendor of all creation, unencumbered by societal constructs. It is a complete inability to be unaware of injustice or impervious to inequality.” In my own way I strive to live this ideal through my practice of law.