Dean William Treanor speaks to luncheon attendees


Finding Faith in the Legal Profession

By: Henry D. Brill

October 17, 2019

Over 100 alumni, faculty, and students gathered with Berkley Center Senior Research Fellow Amy Uelmen to launch an alumni network for her Religion and the Work of a Lawyer seminar at a luncheon held during the Georgetown Law reunion weekend in mid-October.

Uelmen, a lecturer at the law school who researches religious values and legal ethics, developed the seminar in 2002 as a space for students to explore the intersection of their religious beliefs and their professional lives.

Michael Fakhoury (L’19) and Georgetown Law Dean William Treanor joined Uelmen to reflect on the seminar and to outline plans for its alumni network. 

Engaging Difference

Uelmen helps students explore the intersections of religious belief and legal practice by shaping her course around short student reflections submitted before each class which then form the basis of an agenda for discussion.

“We work hard to identify our shared questions,” said Uelmen. “We may not have shared answers, but we have many shared questions. And then we focus on creating a welcoming, open space for conversation, and I would even dare to say a sense of community.

The seminar is part of the Doyle Engaging Difference Program, a campus-wide collaboration between the Berkley Center and the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship. 

Doyle Seminars, such as the Religion and Work of a Lawyer course, bring together small groups of students to learn about diversity through research and dialogue on questions of cultural, religious, moral, and other forms of difference.

Uelmen brings together students of all faith backgrounds to consider contentious issues such as conscience clauses and whether it is appropriate to bring moral and religious values into professional advising.

Alexander Afnan (L’21) reflected on how the seminar equips students to better interact with difference. 

I think this course has been so valuable in allowing us to really dig deep within our own reflection and then when we encounter things that we don’t necessarily agree with, learning how to interact with that and communicate with differing perspectives or values.

Student Stories

Before the luncheon event, Uelmen led the seminar in an exercise where current students joined alumni for small group conversations on a variety of topics, such as work-life balance and financial planning.

Participants shared takeaways from the experience, which involves four rounds of intimate dialogue followed by a group reflection. 

Micah Fielden (L’16), a litigation associate who took the seminar in 2015, continues to reflect on the themes of the course by dialoguing with current students as part of the exercise.

This class serves as an annual ‘check in’ for me—a time set apart for thoughtful self-reflection, when I can meaningfully contemplate my personal and professional decisions and better align those to my core values and desires.

Other participants reflected on how the seminar helped to integrate their faith and professional lives. 

“Faith and law do not contradict,” remarked Lindsey Keiser (L’16), who is currently serving as legal counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. “This idea really opened up in Professor Uelmen’s class. It was my first time that I got to talk about my faith at law school and didn’t feel as though I had to hide it.”

Continuing Conversations

Fakhoury, a judicial law clerk, began discussions to form a Religion and the Work of a Layer alumni network with Uelmen and Treanor after recognizing how the seminar changed the way he viewed his responsibility for the world.

“The goal of this launch here is to further the conversations we began in the classroom,” said Fakhoury. “After 13 short weeks, Professor Uelmen creates a fostered community of individuals who can freely share their ideas with one another, and we realize that many of us go through these similar issues in life.”

Plans for the future of the alumni network, a smaller community within the larger Georgetown Law alumni association, look bright. Fakhoury summarized his hopes for the network, remarking,

Together as an alumni community, I hope that we connect with our old friends, that we can establish new relationships with previous alumni, and that we can continue to grow and learn every day. 

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