The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law's first Faith In Action event of the semester featured The Honorable Thomas B. Griffith, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, who gave a talk entitled "Lawyers and the Atonement."
During the September 27 event, Griffith discussed that despite the public perception of lawyers, their role, properly understood, is to build community, which is an effort at atonement.
"In popular perception we don't really think of lawyers being agents of atonement… but the work of reconciliation is to bring together that which is divided. The Kings James translators were looking for a word that captured this sense of reconciliation. The word they created was 'at-one-ment' or atonement. Atonement is the idea that those things which are separated can be brought together," Griffith said.
Griffith discussed the idea that law binds together a community. "Properly understood, lawyering can be a tool of atonement instead of a source of division. Your challenge is to figure out how your work fits within the project of atonement," he said.
He reminded students that lawyering is service to those in marginalized positions and that this work can be accomplished in all fields of law.
Judge Griffith was appointed to the D.C Circuit in 2005. At the time of his appointment, Judge Griffith was the general counsel of Brigham Young University. Before that he was a partner at the law firm of Wiley, Rein and Fielding in Washington, D.C., and for four years served Senate Legal Counsel, the chief legal officer of the United States Senate. He has long been active in his church, where he held positions of lay leadership.
After the talk concluded, students and faculty had the opportunity to ask questions and speak with Griffith about his experiences.