About Christian Legal Society

Mission & Vision

Christian Legal Society is a fellowship of Christians dedicated to serving Jesus Christ through the practice and study of law, the defense of religious freedom and life, and the provision of legal aid to the needy.

Christian Legal Society, founded in 1961, seeks to fulfill God’s command found in Micah 6:8 by bringing glory to God by inspiring, encouraging, and equipping Christian attorneys and law students, both individually and in community, to proclaim, love, and serve Jesus Christ through the study and practice of law, through the provision of legal assistance to the poor and needy, and through the defense of the inalienable rights to life and religious freedom.



  • To proclaim Jesus as Lord through all we do;
  • To defend the religious freedom of all Americans through the legislatures and courts;
  • To defend the religious freedom of students to gather on their campuses as Christian organizations;
  • To promote justice for the poor, religious freedom, sanctity of human life, and biblical conflict resolution;
  • To encourage Christian attorneys to view law as a ministry and help them integrate faith and their legal practice;
  • To provide Christian attorneys a means of society and fellowship;
  • To encourage and disciple Christian law professors and students;
  • To provide a forum for discussing issues related to Christianity and the law;
  • To encourage attorneys and law students to serve the poor and needy.

Invitation to All

Professor Elton Trueblood called it the “Strategy of Jesus.” This strategy, as set forth by Professor Trueblood, well describes what we all need and the kind of “society” CLS aspires to be:

What we need is not intellectual theorizing or even preaching, but a demonstration. One of the most powerful ways of turning people’s loyalty to Christ is by loving others with the great love of God.  We cannot revive faith by argument, but we might catch the imagination of puzzled men and women by an exhibition of a fellowship so intensely alive that every thoughtful person would be forced to respect it. If there should emerge in our day such a fellowship, wholly without artificiality and free from the dead hand of the past, it would be an exciting event of momentous importance. A society of genuine loving friends, set free from the self-seeking struggle for personal prestige and from all unreality, would be something unutterably priceless and powerful.  A wise person would travel any distance to join it.

Should you seek such a society, you are cordially invited to join CLS, and add your voice to the many other Christians in the legal profession.

All are encouraged to associate through a CLS attorney or law student chapter.  If there is not yet a convenient local chapter to join in your area, we would invite all to associate with at least three like-minded attorneys or law students for the purpose of starting a chapter.  CLS will help you join or start a local chapter.  It’s easy. Just ask for a copy of our Attorney or Law Student Manuals.

If you are already a member of Christian Legal Society, use the CLS membership brochure and membership application to encourage a friend or colleague to join.

In the memorable words of former Chaplain of the Senate, Dick Halverson, we believe that each member of this Society can be like “a garment which Jesus Christ wears every day to do what Jesus wants to do” with his or her life.  Seen from this perspective, “we don’t need power; our weakness is an asset.  If Christ is truly in each of us as we all have confessed, then what more do we need to follow Him?”  And so, as we move forward, we are committed to following the example of servant-leadership Jesus has modeled for us.  John 13:14-15

Statement of Faith

Christian Legal Society is a non-denominational Christian membership association whose members participate in the broad and rich variety of Christian congregational life and traditions. Membership in Christian Legal Society is open to all who believe in and sign CLS’ Statement of Faith.

As most recently reaffirmed by CLS’ Board of Directors on May 4, 1996, CLS “affirms that the Society welcomes believers in Jesus Christ of all denominations and traditions consistent with the Christian Legal Society Statement of Faith.” Subsequently, the CLS Board of Directors has approved a CLS Community Life Statement and its principles, which informs all CLS ministries and is affirmed by all officers (local and national), directors, and staff.

All officers, directors, members, advisory council members, and staff of CLS shall, as a condition of their employment or membership in CLS, acknowledge in writing their acceptance of, and agreement with the following Statement of Faith, as set forth in Article II, Section 1 of CLS’ corporate by-laws, as amended:

  • Trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior, I believe in:
  • One God, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
  • The Deity of our Lord, Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary; His vicarious death for our sins through which we receive eternal life; His bodily resurrection and personal return.
  • The presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the work of regeneration.
  • The Bible as the inspired Word of God.


It all began with a late-night conversation in 1959. Following a time of prayer while both were attending an American Bar Association national convention, Paul Barnard and Henry Luke Brinks talked about the need for a national association of Christian lawyers. Former Wheaton College classmates, Barnard, a law professor at Stetson University in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Brinks, an attorney in the Chicago firm of Bryon, Hume, Groen and Clement, had arrived independently at the same conclusion: Christian lawyers had no network for sharing their problems and finding fellowship. Pastors and church groups did not know how to locate Christian lawyers who were willing and able to offer legal counsel from a Christian perspective. Christian doctors had the Christian Medical Society to assist them to integrate their faith and profession, so why not form a Christian “legal society?”

The founding “Chicago chapter” filed the Articles of Incorporation for Christian Legal Society on October 19, 1961. On February 3, 1962 CLS held its first board of director’s meeting at 38 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois, at which time the first CLS by-laws were adopted and the first twenty-one “members of the corporation” and the first five “officers of the corporation” were elected “subject to their acceptance and submission of properly executed applications.”[1]

 The five original purposes of the Christian Legal Society, as stated in the formal paperwork, were remarkably similar to the nine purposes now listed in CLS’ current Vision and Mission Statement:

To provide a means of society among Christian lawyers. 

To clarify and promote the concept of the Christian lawyer.

To encourage and aid deserving young students in preparing for the legal profession.

To provide a forum for the discussion of problems relating to Christianity and law.

To cooperate with bar associations and other organizations in asserting and maintaining high standards of legal ethics.


David Nammo

CLS' Executive Director & CEO

Brian Patlen

CLS' Chief Operations Officer

Peter Smith

CLS' Chief Financial Officer

Courtney Herron

CLS' Director, Development

Annie Bennett

Director, Christian Legal Aid

Lakuita Bittle

Director, Attorney Ministries

Anton Sorkin

Director, Law Student Ministries

Steve McFarland

Director, Center for Law & Religious Freedom.

Lori Kepner

Senior Counsel

Laura Darien Nammo

Attorney, Center for Law & Religious Freedom

Kim Colby

Of Counsel, Center of Law & Religious Freedom

Brent Amato

Barnabas Fellow, Chicagoland

Joe Ruta

Barnabas Fellow, Northeast

Ariana Findley

Attorney Ministries Coordinator

Mike Schutt

Director, CLS Law School Fellows

Michelle Williams

Law Student Ministries Coordinator

Alanna Walker

Grants Coordinator

Mike Schutt

Director, CLS Law School Fellows

Alanna Walker

Grants Coordinator

Michelle Williams

Law Student Ministries Coordinator



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