Bob Cochran on Law and Lawyering: A Catholic Perspective

Bob Cochran on Law and Lawyering: A Catholic Perspective

Essay By: Stephen M. Bainbridge

47 PEPP. L. REV. 371 (2020)

This Essay is a contribution to a festschrift honoring Pepperdine law professor Robert Cochran. In addition to his many other professional accomplishments, Professor Cochran is a leading figure in the study of Law and Christianity.

One strain of Law and Christianity scholarship focuses on normative critiques of substantive legal issues based on Christian theology. In other words, it seeks to make the civil law more moral; i.e., to conform Man’s Law to God’s Law. A second strain seeks to help lawyers deal with the difficulties inherent in being a Christian and a lawyer. As Cochran has put it, one might ask “whether there is a connection between religious faith and what ordinary lawyers do in ordinary law offices on ordinary Wednesday afternoons.”

Cochran’s work has intersected both possibilities. In Part II of this Article, I tackle his analysis of the extent to which we should strive to harmonize God’s and Man’s Law. In Part III, I turn to Cochran’s analysis of the Christian lawyer’s vocation. In both parts, I come at his work from the perspective of a Roman Catholic called upon to give religious assent to both Christian scripture and, where I differ from Cochran, the Church’s Magisterium.

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