De Jong '73
A Lawyer's Mind, A Doctor's
A doctor charged with medical
malpractice faces a formidable opponent in court when David De Jong '73
prosecutes the case. De Jong is a trial lawyer in Chicago whose specialty
is medical malpractice, having first earned an M.D. degree from Loyola
Stritch School of Medicine, then a J.D. from Northwestern University School
of Law. He spent three years at Trinity in pre-med before going on
For a Christian, the most
challenging aspect of the law lies in the nature of the adversary system,
which calls for the marshalling of favorable facts and information to support
the client. Because it is the mandated role of the attorney to "zealously
represent the interest of the client," the system creates what De Jong
terms a "moral ambiguity: almost any question in life is subject to interpretation.
As a lawyer, you have to take one side of an issue and defend it.
"Every attorney performs
this balancing act between representing the client and dealing with facts
that can push things further into an ethically gray area. Although I do
not work within the criminal justice system, it's been said that this area
of the law can be especially problematic in its moral ambiguity,"
said De Jong. "The system, by its nature, fosters a degree of moral tarnishing
of everyone involved, from the police making an arrest, to guards in the
jails, and the prosecutors who must try the cases. How does a Christian
lawyer avoid becoming cynical after devoting his life to working within
this kind of system? I think the same basic dynamic and question is raised
in the civil side of the law where I work. Hard-hitting yet ethical advocacy
is constantly at war with the temptation to blur the lines of truth in
a too-zealous effort to win.
"That's where Trinity has
helped me the most-to put what I do into perspective. The human legal structures,
flawed as they are, also partake in God's redemptive plan for the world.
Although it is difficult not to internalize the negative aspects of these
legal, democratic structures, the reality of God's sovereignty over the
courtroom, as well as everything else, is very comforting. I try as best
as I can, certainly failing at times, to walk humbly with God as I work
out my salvation in my chosen area of life.
"My work is certainly a calling.
I am privileged to help people who have been wronged by medical practitioners
to secure compensation and be able to better live their lives. This is
a way for me to show them the face of Christ through practical compassion,
as conveyed in 1 Corinthians 13-agape love. At Trinity, I gained a greater
realization of the presence of God in my own life, understanding that we
are not supposed to sit on the sidelines and hide from the world, but to
model Christ's example of self-effacing love in all that we do.
"I believe in the truth of
what is taught at Trinity: everyone has a divine calling; we are equally
called before God. It doesn't matter what we do-what our occupation is-God
gives us the opportunity to seek Him in our hearts and serve Him in our
world. We all really have the same calling to live our lives before God's
face," said De Jong. He finds comfort and wisdom in the words of Isaiah
De Jong counts his wife,
Gwen (Prins) '77, as another blessing that he received from his Trinity
days. Married for 28 years, the De Jongs live in Chicago, and have three
sons: Connor, Caleb, and Samuel.
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