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February 27, 2020

A CU New York Lunch & Learn featuring Olga Statz

On Friday, February 21, 2020, CU New York was honored to host Olga Statz*, Acting General Counsel at the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, as the guest speaker for a Lunch & Learn. Olga began her talk on Man’s Laws but God’s Justice: Learning to Stay in Our Lane with a personal recollection of a moment early in her law career.  For the first time she felt the true responsibility expected of her as an advocate, recognizing what it meant to stand between a defendant and the full weight of the State. At this moment Olga was confronted with this underlying truth: the secret of a lawyer’s ability and power lies in process. To this point, Olga emphasized the importance of understanding our roles as professionals and as humans, of  understanding our authority in Christ and God’s authority over our lives, in understanding how to submit to Christ and to submit to the procedural standards of our justice system.

Juxtaposed with the recognition of her personal authority and responsibility as a lawyer, she was simultaneously struck by how law professionals have become less cognizant of the limitations of this authority. She exclaimed “we (lawyers) have become blind to our own limitations” and added that “we know, but we don’t know….reality eludes us.”


Despite great intellect lawyers are still subject to their own humanity, in particular to human hearts which are swayed by emotion and deceitful in nature (Jer. 17:9). In giving a Biblical understanding of the limitations of human justice, Olga presented the disassociation between man and mercy through the verses of Hosea 11:8-9

How can I give you up, O Ephraim?

    How can I hand you over, O Israel?

How can I make you like Admah?

    How can I treat you like Zeboiim?

My heart recoils within me;

    my compassion grows warm and tender.

I will not execute my burning anger;

    I will not again destroy Ephraim;

for I am God and not a man,

    the Holy One in your midst,

    and I will not come in wrath.

Olga artfully states, “The Word holds a mirror to us” - man may act out of impulse or anger, but God being perfectly just can only respond in truth. God is merciful and gracious, whereas humans are tempted by jealousy, conceit and vengeance. It is our susceptibility to our emotions, from which the steps of due process protect our justice system. As Olga put it, procedural steps “serve as obstacles between us and the accused and our knee jerk passions”. In humility and submission to the rule of law, we are recognizing our limited ability to execute justice. 

Olga leaves us with these clothing thoughts:

“In fact we reach our highest wisdom and intelligence through humility. The very limitations and failings that plague us should serve to make us more careful, more strategic, more thoughtful. It is the arrogant who fall in ditches. The prudent look out for danger and avoid it. So my call to attorneys is an abiding humility, a humility that will make us dig deep into the law and learn our craft, master our limitations and to put the law above our passions and above those of others”

*Please note that the aforementioned opinions expressed are those personal to Ms. Statz.

About the Speaker

OlgaSmallOlga Statz is Acting General Counsel at the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. Before joining OATH, she worked at the New York City Law Department, ran her own law office specializing in immigration, criminal and real estate matters, was Principal Law Clerk to Surrogate Diana A. Johnson and served as an Adjunct Professor teaching Advanced Legal Writing and Research at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She is a graduate of The New York University School of Law and has an LLM in Intellectual Property from Cardozo.

Olga is active in the arts and preservation communities. She is a member of the National Arts Club and serves on the boards of Save Paris and the Center at Park West. A few years back, she served on the boards of the Bowery Mission and Landmark West. She also founded Save St. Vincent de Paul and served as its Secretary for a number of years. Her pastimes include reading history and design books and staring up at buildings.