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The writing on the wall

When I first opened my practice, one of the most daunting tasks was decorating my office. People who know me figured I would enjoy it but, in reality, decorating posed so many questions: What image did I want to project? How should I brand my new office? I didn’t want the space to be too feminine or too masculine. I didn’t want it to look too cluttered or too sparse.

Ultimately, I went with a Roman architecture theme — it seemed lawyerly enough. An antique scale, the classic emblem of the legal profession, rests under my Whitaker Legal LLC logo.  Paintings of roman vases hang above leather chairs.

You’d think the most popular feature of my waiting room would be the tea and coffee station. It’s not.

Whitaker Legal Photo 2The most talked-about fixtures in the office are two prints of Bible verses hanging above an end table. To my surprise, they’re downright controversial. (They are hanging on the right side of this photo.)

When I first moved in, a friend of mine asked with disdain why I would hang something like “that” in my office. There’s no place for “that” when you’re a professional, she said.

But clients have had quite the opposite reaction.

After our first meeting, a client in an uncontested divorce case walked out of my office and saw the verses she missed on her way in. She broke down and cried.  Jeremiah 29:11 is her favorite verse, too. It’s confirmation, she says, that she found the right attorney.

A Puerto Rican church in Baltimore sent two pastors from Cuba to my office for help with an immigration issue.  At the close of our last meeting, we stood and held hands in prayer in front of those verses.

“Thank you, God, for the work you’re doing in this office and the peace you bring,” they prayed.

Jeremiah 29:11 encourages, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The seminal verse John 3:16 promises, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

As an immigration attorney, I meet clients of many different faiths and backgrounds. These verses hang humbly in the background until a client wishes to bring them up in conversation.

Other professionals may disagree with my decision to display my faith in the workplace. But my faith is a part of who I am. It’s why I built my own practice to serve others. It’s why I strive to be the best I can be.

It’s why those verses will have a permanent place on my office wall.

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