Welcoming our Korean friends as new Alabama lawyers
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This past week, we at the Foundation for Moral Law celebrated as more than two-dozen Christian law students from Handong International Law School (http://lawschool NULL.handong NULL.edu/en) (HILS) in Pohang, South Korea were admitted into the Alabama State Bar. We rejoiced with many who came for the admission ceremony on October 19, 2011, and received their bar licenses (left) for which they had studied, struggled, and prayer so hard.
You may be wondering, “How did such a large group of Christian law graduates from a Korean law school end up as Alabama lawyers?”
It all started when one of our attorneys, Col. John Eidsmoe, began teaching two-week fall courses at HILS several years ago, which blossomed into a relationship between the Foundation and HILS that has been an international blessing for all. In January 2010, HILS interns began arriving for brief internships at the Foundation’s office in Montgomery, Alabama. They are still coming!
In a typical internship, a current student or recent alum of HILS would come to Alabama for a three-week period to work in our office. They would gain experience researching, writing, drafting appellate briefs, and sometimes attending oral arguments at the Alabama Supreme Court. Many HILS students, who at HILS are educated about western law in English by American and Korean professors, would at the Foundation gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution, the religious freedoms it protects, and the Christian foundation of American law and government. Many would also get sponsored for admission to the Alabama bar by the Alabama attorneys in our office.
For our part, the Foundation would receive helpful, practical assistance in our mission of defending religious liberty and America’s Christian heritage. Since we were also teaching HILS students more about our American system of government, we gained a fresh perspective on how a non-Westerner views America, but also a new appreciation for the blessing and “city on a hill” that American ideals of God-given liberty and legal norms can still be to the world. And finally, we made a lot of great friends.
While we were able to assist these fine folks in applying for the Alabama bar exam, it was a tougher road than normal—or should have been. It is hard enough for Americans to take any bar exam, but HILS graduates were taking a bar exam not in their native language and in a land thousands of miles from home. That was just the foreseeable difficulties. Most had planned to take the exam in February, and were days away from the exam when an unforeseen deficiency in their applications (through no fault of their own) led the state bar to deny their application. Thus, most HILS graduates, after considerable expense and time spent here in preparation for the bar exam, had to defer their application until the July 2011 bar exam. Despite all the struggle and opposition they faced, HILS graduates showed incredible grace, strength, and perseverance. They returned in the summer and, praise be to God, over half of the 50 or so exam-takers passed!
So it was with great joy and thanksgiving that we celebrated their hard-fought admission into the ranks of the Alabama State Bar last week. We know our friends from Korea will render legal service and aid with diligence and a servant’s heart, fulfilling their alma mater’s key verse to “Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with your God – Micah 6:8.” They will also have first-hand experience to empathize with clients who feel they have been burned by “the system” and feel completely helpless. That is exactly the kind of advocate that a client needs.
Here is a group shot of our happy gathering. Judge Roy Moore is on the front row, fourth from the left. To his right is Justice Tom Parker of the Alabama Supreme Court. Col. John Eidsmoe is on the back row directly behind Judge Moore. Foundation attorney Ben DuPré is the first one on the front row.