Living the Mission as a Business Attorney

The University of St. Thomas School of Law, as a Catholic law school, is dedicated to integrating faith and reason in the search for truth through a focus on morality and social justice.

These are probably not the first words that come to mind when you think about utility rate cases and commercial lending transactions. Actually, those two topics probably make you think of several, different words that are not suitable for publication on a website run by a Catholic law school focused on morality and social justice. So how does a business attorney live the mission?

First, it is important to acknowledge the mission means many things to many people. Take some time browsing this blog and you will see several wonderful people doing amazing things – each of them living the mission in their own way. Each member of the St. Thomas community is encouraged to conduct their own “search for truth,” including those of us in the commercial world.

The ultimate goal for any business attorney should be to become a trusted advisor. For me, integrating faith and reason while trying to practice (and live) morally are fundamental steps in that process. As Professor Hamilton writes, “A trusted advisor earns trust through excellent technical skills combined with both sufficient self-knowledge to be authentic and to subordinate the lawyer’s own ego to focus on care for the client, and empathy, including strong listening skills.” This means a good business attorney needs to have his or her house in order before clients are willing to make the leap of entrusting you with their commercial dealings (and dollars).

In my time at St. Thomas, I was lucky enough to observe several members of the St. Thomas community modeling the skills associated with being a trusted advisor. My professional career is similarly blessed with colleagues willing to share both technical knowledge and practical skills to assist my ongoing development. These relationships have been and will continue to be vital in my growth as an attorney and as a person. I am also blessed with a wife that makes me a better person (on a daily basis) and a family that is always there for me. All of these areas of support help me to grow into being an authentic person and a technically skilled attorney.

Combining technical skill and ethical practice lie at the heart of the trusted advisor relationship and the St. Thomas mission. So, yes, dear reader, it is possible to live the mission as a business attorney.

Pat Zomer ’11 practices in the areas of utility regulation, commercial lending, and business law at Moss & Barnett, a Professional Association.