Christian Legal Society/ CLS

The information in this column was provided to MinistryWatch by the ministry itself. It was last updated 8/22/2021. To update the information in this column, please email:


Christian Legal Society ("CLS") is a national network of attorneys, judges, law students, professors, and lay people, with local chapters of attorneys and law students located in almost every state. CLS helps lawyers to integrate their faith in Christ with their professional responsibilities and reaches and teaches law students across the country to obey Jesus' age-old command "to do justice with the love of God." (Luke 11:42). CLS sponsors local and national conferences for attorneys and law students. It also has established the Center for Law and Religious Freedom to protect and promote the inalienable and constitutional rights of free exercise of religion and sanctity of human life. It provides consultant services, researches current issues, publishes a quarterly journal, and provides strategic litigation support at appellant and trial court levels.

Contact information

Mailing address:
Christian Legal Society
8001 Braddock Avenue
Suite 302
Springfield, VA 22151


Phone: (703) 642-1070


Organization details

EIN: 366101090

CEO/President: David Nammo

Chairman: Charles M. Oellermann

Board size: 20

Founder: Paul Barnard and Henry Luke Brinks

Ruling year: 1991

Tax deductible: Yes

Fiscal year end: 12/31

Member of ECFA: Yes

Member of ECFA since: 1982


Christian Legal Society (CLS), founded in 1961, seeks to fulfill God's command found in Micah 6:8 by bringing glory to God by inspiring, encouraging, and equipping Christian attorneys and law students, both individually and in community, to proclaim, love, and serve Jesus Christ through the study and practice of law, through the provision of legal assistance to the poor and needy, and through the defense of the inalienable rights to life and religious freedom.

Mission statement

CLS Objectives

To proclaim Jesus as Lord through all we do;

To defend the religious freedom of all Americans through the legislatures and courts;

To defend the religious freedom of students to gather on their campuses as Christian organizations;

To promote justice for the poor, religious freedom, sanctity of human life, and biblical conflict resolution;

To encourage Christian attorneys to view law as a ministry and help them integrate faith and their legal practice;

To provide Christian attorneys a means of society and fellowship;

To encourage and disciple Christian law professors and students;

To provide a forum for discussing issues related to Christianity and the law;

To encourage attorneys and law students to serve the poor and needy.

Statement of faith

Christian Legal Society's Statement of Faith is:

One God, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

The Deity of our Lord, Jesus Christ, God's only Son, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary; His vicarious death for our sins through which we receive eternal life; His bodily resurrection and personal return.

The presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the work of regeneration.

The Bible as the inspired Word of God.

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Financial efficiency ratings

Sector: Advocacy

CategoryRatingOverall rankSector rank
Overall efficiency rating507 of 102219 of 41
Fund acquisition rating569 of 102421 of 41
Resource allocation rating224 of 102413 of 41
Asset utilization rating762 of 102228 of 41

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Balance sheet
Receivables, inventories, prepaids$835,721$728,479$474,079$476,515$359,949
Short-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Other current assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total current assets$2,420,760$1,690,188$1,599,080$870,201$616,895
Long-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Fixed assets$69,866$22,891$31,056$38,197$25,565
Other long-term assets$6,849$8,138$8,138$8,138$8,240
Total long-term assets$76,715$31,029$39,194$46,335$33,805
Total assets$2,497,475$1,721,217$1,638,274$916,536$650,700
Payables and accrued expenses$46,033$49,885$45,999$50,428$35,080
Other current liabilities$307,501$10,243$31,973$19,532$24,523
Total current liabilities$353,534$60,128$77,972$69,960$59,603
Due to (from) affiliates$0$0$0$0$0
Other long-term liabilities$24,407$0$5,133$9,748$13,895
Total long-term liabilities$206,554$0$5,133$9,748$13,895
Total liabilities$560,088$60,128$83,105$79,708$73,498
Net assets20202019201820172016
Without donor restrictions$612,317$948,010$792,905$800,236$568,774
With donor restrictions$1,325,070$713,079$762,264$36,592$8,428
Net assets$1,937,387$1,661,089$1,555,169$836,828$577,202
Revenues and expenses
Total contributions$1,391,426$1,454,291$1,759,353$984,703$812,041
Program service revenue$42,753$292,536$211,656$270,498$211,056
Membership dues$370,311$361,280$379,567$384,393$362,675
Investment income$0$0$0$0$0
Other revenue$0$49,469$36,178$10,544$14,108
Total other revenue$413,064$703,285$627,401$665,435$587,839
Total revenue$1,804,490$2,157,576$2,386,754$1,650,138$1,399,880
Program services$1,415,974$1,762,999$1,404,128$1,180,765$1,109,742
Management and general$155,333$137,556$122,163$101,208$99,217
Total expenses$1,701,646$2,051,656$1,668,413$1,390,512$1,319,657
Change in net assets20202019201820172016
Surplus (deficit)$102,844$105,920$718,341$259,626$80,223
Other changes in net assets$173,454$0$0$0$0
Total change in net assets$276,298$105,920$718,341$259,626$80,223


David NammoExecutive Director & CEO$131,814
Kimberlee ColbyKey Employee$111,926

Compensation data as of: 12/31/2019

Response from ministry

No response has been provided by this ministry.

The information below was provided to MinistryWatch by the ministry itself. It was last updated 8/22/2021. To update the information below, please email:


It all began with a late-night conversation in 1959 when Paul Barnard and Henry Luke Brinks talked about the need for a national association of Christian lawyers. Former Wheaton College classmates, Barnard, a law professor at Stetson University, St. Petersburg, Florida, and Brinks, an attorney in the Chicago firm of Bryon, Hume, Groen and Clement, had arrived independently at the same conclusion: Christian lawyers had no network for sharing their problems and finding fellowship. Pastors and church groups did not know how to locate Christian lawyers who were willing and able to offer legal counsel from a Christian perspective. To survey interest in the project, Barnard sent out "a flock of letters" to friends, friends of friends and other people he thought might be interested. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Brinks and his uncle, Gerrit P. Groen, also a Chicago attorney, began meeting with several other Christian lawyers for lunch and fellowship on a monthly basis. Having established this base, and knowing from Barnard's mail survey that substantial national interest existed in a Christian legal society, the time-consuming task of preparing for incorporation was begun. Naming Paul Barnard their president and appointing Brinks, Groen and Elmer Johnson, a Chicago lawyer, as the first board of directors, the founding "Chicago chapter" filed the Articles of Incorporation for the Christian Legal Society on October 19,1961.

Eager to move forward, CLS launched it first membership drive in June 1962. Within weeks, the organization had 40 charter members, and President Barnard had organized the first CLS annual meeting, a gathering held at the American Bar Association convention in San Francisco on August 4th of that year. Glenn outlined an impressive vision for CLS. He challenged each person present to do their part to enable CLS to provide fellowship for Christian attorneys; to serve as a witness to the legal profession; and to present a platform from which Christian attorneys could speak as a united voice on social, moral and ethical issues.

And as Gerrit Groen, who was elected the new CLS President during the meeting, reported in his September 1962 newsletter, the tone of the event set a precedent for love and high standards of care that still exist within CLS today. Further encouragement came from the wide use of a news release announcing CLS' birth. Distributed to both religious and legal media, the release resulted in both critical and appreciative coverage. Religious publications such as The Banner commented that CLS "could give leadership in facing a good many problems that a Christian deals with and talks about these days" (February 8, 1963), but the dominant attitude of the organized bar was less receptive. Notably, Christianity Today quoted Maurice Brooks, president of the Abilene (Texas) Bar Association, as saying, "Religious beliefs have nothing to do with the legal profession" (February 1, 1963 Today, as then, CLS remains committed to the idea that the rule of law is a gift of God, and the practice of law is to be pursued daily as a Christian ministry.

Under President Groen, CLS grew to 100 members and established local chapters in Chicago, Dallas and Seattle. To facilitate the formation of these chapters and of chapters in other strategic cities, CLS elected a national council (board of directors) with representatives spread from New Jersey to Illinois to California. Appropriately, President Gerrit Groen called these chapters "the building blocks of CLS;' reporting that "a regularly scheduled, once-a-month luncheon proving to be a simple, effective and enjoyable format." Although today the format for CLS fellowship varies from small early morning weekly prayer groups to the annual national and regional conferences, the biblical principle of "not forsaking the meeting together, but encouraging one another in love and good works" continues to work well in the more than 90 attorney and 165 law student chapters across the country that are now affiliated or becoming affiliated with CLS.

Today under the guidance of Director of Law Student Ministries, Charlie Emmerich, this project has now grown to encompass more than 850 law students on 165 of the 179 ABA or state-accredited law school campuses in the United States. While CLS did not change its name, today it is well-regarded and highly respected by all faith communities in the United States, particularly the Jewish community, as one of the nation's most experienced defenders of religious freedom for all Americans. Indeed, CLS serves today as the co-chair of the Task Force on the Religious Freedom Restoration in the Several States. In the process, CLS has found by protecting the religious freedoms of all, we have many opportunities to witness to the life-saving gospel of Jesus Christ by our words and actions. It is with this same hope and prayer that CLS now extends itself to assist the truly needy, protect the sanctity of human life, and reach out to all law students in America. In this way, CLS endeavors by its actions and the example of its members to have its name "Christian Legal Society" be understood to mean the "Christ-following justice seeking band of committed friends."

In 1976, CLS established the Center for Law and Religious Freedom (CLRF) at the urging of Christopher Hall, a California attorney. Hall saw the need for Christian lawyers to be better equipped to defend our religious liberties, which are threatened by an increasingly secularized society. Twenty-two years after its founding, CLRF is now the well-established "advocacy" arm of CLS not only in the church/state arena, but also in the struggle to protect the sanctity of innocent human life. Today CLRF not only does appellate advocacy, but also provides public education and legislative counsel in Congress and various state legislatures. Since 1996, CLRF staff attorneys have also been providing direct trial court and administrative agency representation for persons or organizations whose religious liberties are at stake. These services are now provided through CLS' subsidiary public interest law firm, CLRF Advocates, Inc.

Of equal significance, was the 1979 founding of the Christian Conciliation Service (CCS), an outreach of CLS that has attracted the attention of pastors and lay leaders across the nation. Developed under the leadership of C. Fred Cassity, who served as CLS President from 1984-1985, CCS developed the biblical theology, training and mediation/arbitration procedures needed to equip lawyers and non-lawyers to bring justice and reconciliation to parties at conflict within their churches and communities without the need of litigation. Today this ministry, now known as Peacemaker Ministries, continues stronger than ever under the leadership of CLS member Ken Sande.

During the 1980s, CLS' in-house journals also grew. The Quarterly replaced The Christian Lawyer as the lead CLS publication, and in 1981, CLS launched the Religious Freedom Reporter, a journal providing accurate information on church/state issues. By 1986, the Religious Freedom Reporter (RFR) was on the shelves of most law school libraries in the United States. Today the RFR continues to be published through Campbell University School of Law, as edited by Lynn Buzzard. The Quarterly again became the Christian Lawyer in the Fall of 1998, and is now published in hard copy (The Christian Lawyer Briefly), on the internet (The Christian Lawyer E-Zine), and in audio-tape versions (The Christian Lawyer Digest).

During the eight year period of 1988 through 1994, CLS continued to pursue its mission even as it struggled to maintain its momentum in a period of slow membership growth, financial weakness, leadership transition, and the need for some organizational restructuring. In 1994, CLS' current Executive Director, Sam Casey (a/k/a "2d Samuel"), was appointed to develop and pursue a strategic plan developed by CLS' Board of Directors to grow and enhance CLS mission into the 21st Century. By 1999, while maintaining its programs using a reduced staff, CLS was pleased to have retired all of its long-term indebtedness, operated with a surplus of revenues over expenses for 3 successive years with an overhead to program expense ratio of less than 25%, and restructured itself into three ministry divisions with a full-time director heading each ministry division under the overall supervision of the executive director. In 1999, CLS added an attorney and a paralegal to its Center for Law & Religious Freedom to handle CLRF's growing legislative and trial-level work, a Membership Ministries Director to implement CLS' Membership Goals 2001 Plan, and a Manager of Membership Information Services to handle CLS' growing internet-based membership ministry services.

Consequently, as CLS proceeds into the 21st century, we thank our Lord for His great faithfulness and we pray he will provide the grace and provision CLS needs to grow again in membership and service to its members and the community, with Christ's vision for the future of legal practice: Doing Justice with the Love of God.

Program accomplishments

Christian Legal Society accomplishments and programs include some of the following:

Membership Ministries: Facilitates a means of society, fellowship and nurturing among Christian lawyers, judges, law professors and students, helping them to view law vocationally as an opportunity for Christian witness, service and ministry.

Conferences: Sponsors local and national conferences for attorneys and law students.

Center for Law and Religious Freedom: Protects and promotes the inalienable and constitutional rights of free exercise of religion and sanctity of human life, provides consultative services, researches current issues, publishes a quarterly journal, and provides strategic litigation support at appellant and trial court levels.

Public Ministries: Promotes the training and certification of Christian lawyers in Biblical reconciliation techniques and conflict resolution. Encourages members to provide legal aid, both individually and through local chapters, in active cooperation with social service providers like the International Union of Gospel Missions, the Salvation Army or Catholic Social Services.

Law Student Ministries: Establishes CLS-affiliated student chapters at law schools and CLS-affiliated student chapters at law schools and colleges throughout the United States. Provides mentors and resources to foster spiritual growth, outreach through public service, and integration of legal practice and Christian faith.