Simply learning the tools of law isn’t enough. If law is to serve a useful place in society, its practice must be leavened with compassion for others and a commitment to fight the unjust.
The Columbus School of Law’s embrace of community service encourages students to think about law in service to others from the very first day they matriculate. During Orientation Week for first year students, for example, there is always a day set aside to volunteer on behalf of a local cause. It could be painting school classrooms, visiting with people who are elderly and alone, or cleaning up debris from an area park or bike path.
Catholic University’s law students routinely conduct food drives, toy and coat collections, and drive other charitable functions through student organizations and outreach every year.
Another example: In the eight years since Hurricane Katrina devastated communities along America’s Gulf Coast, the suffering of millions of its people has not been forgotten by the law school’s student-staffed Legal Services Society, which continues to visit the region each year to assist residents with lingering legal and social problems.
The commitment to community is also reflected in the law school’s curricular offerings, which provide boundless opportunities for students to master the legal skills that contribute to a more just society.
In 2013, for instance, the law school introduced “Faith in Action: A Six Part Series on Faith, Justice and Service." The lecture series provides an opportunity for students to explore the connections between faith, justice and service with classmates, exchange ideas with guest participants, and participate in service initiatives in the local community.
Encouraging law students to become lifelong participants in a Community of Service and imparting the skills and passion to succeed at it is Catholic social teaching in action. It is also neighborly and good social policy. Most of all, it is the right thing to do.