J. Reuben Clark Law Society

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society Celebrates 25 Years at Annual Conference


The J. Reuben Clark Law Society held its eighth Annual Conference in Washington,
D.C. at the Georgetown Law Center on February 14 - 16, 2013. The conference was a
celebration of the Society’s 25th anniversary. The LDS Church news reported on the
conference on Saturday, February 23, 2013.

Activities opened in the Hart Auditorium at Georgetown with a beautiful violin
performance by Jenny Oaks Baker and a talk by Senator Mike Lee. Senator Lee is the
son of Rex Lee who was the founding Dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU.
Senator Lee shared valuable insights on how to achieve the mission statement of the
Law Society which references the value brought to the law by an attorney’s individual
religious conviction.

Friday's opening session included a panel of law school deans from George Mason,
Georgetown, George Washington, University of Virginia and BYU. They spoke on a
number of valuable topics especially of interest for the hundreds of law students at the
conference. They discussed how changes in the law, technology and society in general
impact on how law schools educate students and how legal services are delivered to
clients. Law schools are experimenting with on-line courses, clinical work, and other
changes in order to reduce the cost of a legal education and better prepare students for
practice.
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Following the opening session, attendees participated in one of three options: (1) a
panel discussion about Appellate Advocacy moderated by Gene Schaerr featuring Beth
Brinkmann, Maureen Mahoney and Carter Phillips; (2) a panel led by Randall Guynn
on “Emergency Legislation: Are we a Nation Adrift from the Rule of Law?” featuring
Randal Quarles, Wayne Abernathy and Anjan Sahni and (3) a panel on “Lawyers as
Repairers of the Breach: Using Legal Skills to Prevent and Resolve Disputes in Law
and Society” moderated by Rick Bryson featuring Judge Kent Jordan, Senator Mike Lee,
Jonathan Johnson III, and Stephanie Pugsley.

The Annual Conference was pleased to hear from Supreme Court Justice Clarence
Thomas as the keynote speaker at the DC Chapter’s annual award lunch on Friday at the
Grand Hyatt in Washington. He spoke to a packed ballroom with close to 850 people in
attendance. The DC Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the JRCLS each year presents the Rex Lee
Advocacy award and the Shawn Bentley Public Service scholarship. Judge William C.
Bryson, who previously worked in the Solicitor Generals Office, and who recently took
Senior status as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit received
the Rex Lee Advocacy Award. He was introduced by Dean Rasband. Elder Jeffrey
R. Holland presented the Bentley Scholarship to Jess Winn, a BYU law student, and
Christianne Cannon, an American University law student--both be working in unpaid
public service jobs in Washington, D.C. this summer. Elder Holland gave a moving
tribute to both Shawn Bentley, his cousin, and Rex Lee who he knew well.

The conference continued on Friday with two break-out sessions at the Georgetown
Law Center on various topics such as working on Capitol Hill, international government
relations, immigration law, judicial clerkships, and church-state relations. Attendees
came together after these sessions to hear Elder Holland and celebrate the 25 th
Anniversary of the Society. Douglas Bush, International Chair of the JRCLS, opened
the concluding meeting with a brief history of the law society, its founding and growth
over the years. Doug explained that Elder Ralph Hardy (emeritus) was responsible
for the original idea of forming a law society. Elder Hardy knew years ago as the law
school was being established at BYU that the success of that law school would affect his
reputation as a lawyer because he was a Latter-day Saint. Many of the law society chairs
were present and Doug highlighted their respective contributions to the society.

Elder Holland gave the final address of the night and commented on his remembrance of
the history of the law society:

"I had the good fortune to be part of the founding of the [Clark] law society
during my presidential years at BYU and the creation of its first chapter here in
Washington, D.C. This a particularly sweet moment for me, coming back to the
maternity ward where this baby was born and noting what a dazzling 25-year-old
that child has become."

"I have in my hand a copy of the program from that night in November of 1987
when we formed the first chapter here. To look at it is to take a delightful stroll
down memory lane. What a wonderful — and as it turns out, historic — evening
that was, the significance of which is at the heart of our 25th anniversary activities
this week. I am not sure any of us that night conceived of a society that would
grow into what this organization has become.

"You are individually and collectively a very bright light. … You are among the
finest and best trained we have to defend, to advocate, to plead and to appeal for
the great faith, the strong families and the religious freedom for which and upon
which this republic was founded. God bless you in the powerful and virtuous
practice of the law."

He then spoke about Faith, Family and Freedom. The evening concluded with a 25th
Anniversary party with food, live music and a cake-cutting ceremony with Elder Ralph
Hardy and Elder Holland.

Saturday began with a panel of DC Circuit Court judges titled "Life Lessons Learned."
Judge Griffith's advice was to be nice and to be fully engaged in activity in your ward
family – and take your turn to clean the chapel. He also suggested that we read history
and find a great hero or mentor. Judge Garland fielded a question about work-life
balance. He did not want to be held up as an example and noted that he works very
hard. His practice with his children as they were growing up was to drive them to school
where they could have a half hour together. Sometimes they would talk with “a bunch
of sarcasm” or just listen to the radio. Other times, the kids would tell him what they

were “thinking and worrying about.” He valued those times. Judge Silberman talked
about family and wondered how his clerks do it now. He was married in the 1950’s and
his wife stayed home. In the 70-80’s women starting working more and he noted how it
seems harder now to balance two careers and family.

Elder Wickman moderated a lively panel on "Religious Liberty in the 21st Century."
He said that religious freedom is the number one issue facing the church. He noted four
challenges in defending religious liberty. First, there is a clash between secular concerns
and religious principles. Second, there is growing opposition towards unpopular
religions. Third, application of land use laws can affect building chapels and temples.
Fourth and finally, it is easier to protect institutional rights (churches) over individual
rights of conscience. Saturday concluded with reports from church Area Legal Counsel,
always a highlight for conference attendees.

The conference was attended by around 800 lawyers, law students, and guests. This
includes 250 law students from over 60 law schools around the country. This was the
largest ever Annual Conference outside of Utah. Doug Bush said, "A unique aspect of
the law society is that we can come to a conference like this and hear life lessons, advice,
receive legal education and instruction and develop friendships. We attend because we
grow not only professionally, but are spiritually uplifted as well.”

-Thomas M. and Virginia T. Isaacson


Posted: 2013-03-21

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