What is Justice?

Jeff Haanen

"I don't remember talking much in law school about justice actually was," said Steve Thompson, Executive Director of the Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Clinic (JAMLAC). "And I don't remember coming out of law school understanding what justice was."

Steve gave a short yet powerful talk at the 2014 law forum on the theme of justice and the great need many of the poor in Colorado have for legal representation. Below are a few highlights from his presentation:

"In the ECT statement that Mike was referring to, [it says] 'it is no accident that concern for the poor and the vulnerable has figured prominently in Christian accounts of justice, both in the Bible and elsewhere.'"

“Justice is a bridge between whatever is oppressing people and holding them down to a place of shalom with God and with neighbor.”

"Not all of us are called to poverty law, but all of us called to be concerned about justice for the poor."

“Colorado faces a serious crisis in serial legal representation of the indigent. Many Coloradoans who need legal assistance to secure or maintain health care, custody, housing or other necessities do not receive help because there are too few lawyers…Low income individuals do not automatically have access to free legal assistance in civil matters…Most legal assistance for the indigent is provided in Colorado by CLS (Colorado Legal Services)…During the last 20 years, the number of CLS lawyers has been cut in half, while the number of poor people has increased by 75%….The result of that is that now (2008) there is one full-time legal aid lawyer for every 16,890 eligible individuals in Colorado.”  Quoted in The Justice Crisis in Colorado

“In your practice, whatever you are doing, you should find a way to remember the poor….It’s a tremendous opportunity for God’s people.”


Jeff Haanen

Jeff Haanen is a writer and entrepreneur. He founded Denver Institute for Faith & Work, a community of conveners, teachers and learners offering experiences and educational resources on the gospel, work, and community renewal. He is the author of An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life and an upcoming two-book series on spiritual formation, vocation, and the working class for Intervarsity Press. He lives with his wife and four daughters in Denver and attends Wellspring Church in Englewood, Colorado.