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Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion and Ethics

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LAWYERS, FAITH AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

Religious Freedom PosterFebruary 4-5, 2005

Pepperdine School of Law's Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics hosted "Lawyers, Faith and Social Justice" on February 4-5 at Pepperdine's Malibu campus.

Lawyers affect the lives of people at all levels of need. Law practice should lead to greater social justice, but there is a danger that it will lead to social injustice. This conference explored three ways in which lawyers have a substantial impact on "the orphan, the widow, the alien," and "the least of these."

Lawyers involved with social justice directly discussed some of the most innovative social justice programs created in recent years.

Lawyers involved with the government and politics and who have a substantial impact on social policy at local, state, and national levels critiqued our current social policy and discussed directions that might help to empower the weakest among us.

Finally, lawyers who represent corporations and other businesses raised concerns around structuring business arrangements that consider those in need.

For each of these roles, we considered the life of an historical role model: Dorothy Day, the founder of The Catholic Worker; William Wilberforce, the evangelical member of Parliament who successfully led the fight against the slave trade; and Louis Brandeis, who, prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, took on many public causes and took, in one client's words, a "judicial attitude" toward his clients.

Panels and presentations included:
• Innovative Social Justice Programs
• Religious Faith, Lawyers and Social Justice
• Public Policy and Social Justice
• Private Practice and Social Justice
• Corporate Lawyers and Social Responsibility

Featured speakers included:
• Walter E. Fauntroy, pastor, New Bethel Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and D.C.'s delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1971-90
• Elliott Dorff, rector, Sol and Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy, University of Judaism
• Mary Ellen Burns, a Catholic sister with the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and staff attorney with the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation

For more details, download the conference brochure here.