What's Love Got to Do with It?: Contemporary Lessons on Lawyerly Advocacy from the Preacher Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lawyers have long been inspired by the advocacy work of Martin Luther King, Jr. From his work on the Montgomery bus boycott, to lunch counter sit-ins, to his March on Washington, Dr. King demonstrated skilled advocacy that resulted in important legal advancements. While lawyers give primacy to Dr. King as an advocate, Dr. King gave primacy to his work as a preacher. This article challenges the legal profession to consider the ways in which Dr. King, the preacher, may be as inspirational and instructive as Dr. King, the civil rights icon. Just as Dr. King's religious values were not abstracted from their context, but rather gave life to a seemingly intractable contemporary problem of values clashing with law, so too can lawyers deploy contextualized religious values consistent with their professional obligations and roles. The article explores Dr. King's essential concept, love in action, which he derived from his own Christian faith, and considers its corollaries in two other faith traditions, Judaism and Buddhism. The article then applies love in action in two typical lawyering situations—an initial client meeting and a settlement offer, and concludes that the preacher-like call of Dr. King for love in action can inspire lawyers as powerfully and appropriately as the calls to action of the advocate Dr. King.