J. Reuben Clark Law Society

J. Reuben Clark Law Society Conference 2010: Service for Good through the Law

Attorneys, professors and students gathered February 11-13 in Salt Lake City for the Annual J. Reuben Clark Law Society Conference. The event was held at the LDS Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah campus and featured speakers and panels from diverse areas of the legal field, from transactional lawyering and family law to law professors and librarians. 

The theme of this year's conference was "Service for Good through the Law," which gave all in attendance an opportunity to discuss issues such as pro-bono work, professional courtesy, mentoring and the importance of serving in the community.

Since the first conference in 2004, the event has grown substantially. That first conference was organized by two Harvard student for about 100 attendees, and this year there were about 800 people in attendance. 

The conference opened with sobering remarks from Elder Lance B. Wickman, who is currently serving as general counsel for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Wickman said there is a growing threat to religious liberty in the United States, posed by people who are seeking to expand civil and social rights at the expense of religious rights.

"The extent and nature of religious devotion in the United States is changing," said Elder Wickman.

Keith Thompson, who works as legal counsel for the church in Ghana, said that the issue is not just an American phenomenon. He has seen similar trends in different parts of the world, and said "the same thing is happening in the U.K."

Attorneys across the world are starting to recognize the benefits of belonging to active chapters of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. There is already a chapter in London, and the JRCLS leadership conference in October 2009 drew attendees from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Brazil and Guatemala.

Events on Friday and Saturday included a shared keynote address from BYU President Cecil Samuelson and University of Utah President Michael K. Young, a fireside from Dr. Stephen R. Covey, presentations from several BYU Law faculty members, and panels and speakers addressing the conference's theme "Service for Good through the Law," and how to apply it in different areas of legal practice.

Many professionals presenting at the conference spoke of the need for integrity, honesty and service in legal practice. They also expressed their feelings that while attorneys need to represent their clients' best interests,  it should not prevent them from being civil and courteous. Several presenters mentioned the Utah Standards of Professionalism and Civility as an example of the standards attorneys should live by.

Richard Sheffield, an attorney for Fillmore Spencer who co-chaired the conference, said that lawyers should frequently ask themselves "How can I do good?" in the course of their work.

"The high road really is the better way to go," Sheffield said.

"I feel uplifted, which is why I come to these conferences. I come every chance I get, these are great," said Jonathan Wardle, an attorney for Neal & Hartwell.

written by Sterling 
7sterling @gmail.com

Posted: 2010-02-17