Bridging Christianity and Lawsuits
October 19th, 2011
This article is reposted from an interview by Melanie Saxton of Katy Christian Magazine.
In the midst of a litigious society, many Christians feel torn when it comes to the topic of lawsuits. Some are under the impression that they should not sue. Scripturally, is it the right or wrong thing to do? In the event of an auto injury, work injury, industrial accident and a variety of liabilities, how should Christians handle the physical, emotional and financial struggles that face them?
Christians may be forced to navigate the legal system when factors outside of their control leave them feeling vulnerable, helpless or victimized. The challenge is to do so while still retaining their values. Bridging the gap between faith and the legal system is the specialty of one unique law firm – unique, because their practice reflects Proverbs 31: 8-9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Meet the Christian Trial Lawyers of Simmons & Fletcher, P.C., who are committed to serving personal injury victims and their families as they would serve the Lord.
“It is not just a slogan,” says Robert Simmons, Founder. “It is a very real attitude that is practiced every day in our law firm. Our practice is centered on our commitment to serve God by resolving personal injury cases for our clients in a prompt and caring manner, maximizing their recovery, while modeling Christian attitudes and behaviors.” While there are other Christians who practice law, few law firms are as overt about their beliefs. Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., has no qualms in sharing a strong faith and identifying themselves as Christian Trial Lawyers. It is the essence of their practice, which was built upon principles that they hold dear.
When Simmons reflects on his personal journey, his memories are of his childhood and a spiritual walk that began at age 12. “I became a Christian when my Sunday School teacher led me to Christ during a lesson about Hell. I definitely sat up and took notice, asking myself, ‘If there is a God, what would He be like?’ It was then that I decided God loved me just like my earthly father, and I got on my knees and prayed for Him to come into my heart. It inspired me to tithe my first $3 from my paper route.” He grew up to earn his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1964 from the University of Houston, followed by a Doctor of Juris Prudence from the University of Houston Law Center in 1966.
“I never fully understood how God could really become a part of my life and change me until I began studying the Bible,” says Simmons. “in 1976 I discovered that there’s nothing like studying God’s word. That’s what changed my life and made me first contemplate putting God at the forefront of my practice, which was steadily growing.” In fact, by 1979 Simmons felt overwhelmed by too much business and not enough time. “When I realized I had lost my attitude as a servant, I knew something had to change. I got on my knees and prayed for God to intervene. . . and in walked Keith Fletcher.”
Simmons’ faith was contagious. Fletcher, who joined him in the law firm, became a Christian as both participated in Bible Study Fellowship and found hope and guidance in the scriptures. Bible Study Fellowship is a transformational program founded on Romans 15:4: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Fletcher went on to initiate a similar study in his church that is still going strong after 20 years.
“When client’s worry about conflicts in their personal beliefs, we pray with them,” says Simmons. “We are respectful of various scriptures warning against lawsuit abuse. We are sensitive to the worries our clients have. We also realize that the Lord has given us a a Conflict Resolution Plan for disputes between Christians. In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Unfortunately, not every party to a lawsuit follows Christian ethics. Disputes can’t always be resolved easily or justly. Along with society’s large population comes hazards, accidents and negligence. With that in mind, Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. offer help and hope to those who find themselves at the mercy of a complicated legal system. When disputes can’t be fairly resolved, and when a victim has no voice or is at a disadvantage, Simmons steps in. “We do not take any payment for attorney’s fees until we reach a settlement or verdict for our clients,” says Simmons. We listen, we support, and we sincerely pray for our clients.”
Simmons is celebrating a 50 year anniversary with wife, Marilyn, and has a son, three daughters, and eight grandchildren. A native Houstonian, he’s sat on the Board of Trustees at the College of Biblical Studies since 1981, serves as a Deacon and Sunday School teacher at Fairfield Baptist Church in Cypress, and still attends the Bible Study Fellowship class that transformed his life so many years ago.