|In the Provo Canyon, amid the reds and oranges of autumn leaves, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society met for a Leadership Conference October 1-2.
The conference featured several distinguished speakers, including James L. Ferrell, author of The Peacegiver and CEO of the Arbinger Institute, and Reese Hansen, President of the Association of American Law Schools and former dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School.
Attendees united from across the globe, bringing professionals from countries as far away as Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Brazil and Guatemala.
Thursday’s events included in-depth technology training and CLE accredited courses on ethics and Australian Dispute Resolution, by Thomas Sutcliffe and Neville Rochow, respectively. The event closed for the day with dinner, and BYU Law School dean James R. Rasband and Reese Hansen both addressed the conference.
Dean Rasband’s remarks focused on the relationship between BYU Law School and the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. He said that one of the core purposes of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society is to show that a lawyer can “be a faithful lawyer doing critical, rigorous, analytical work, and still make a significant contribution to the kingdom of God.”
“It seems to me that that’s part of the mission of BYU, and part of the mission of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and we want the same thing for law students who don’t go to BYU. We want them to feel that they can succeed in a rigorous profession, that they can succeed as attorneys, and remain faithful.”
Rasband also announced that there will be a second Life in the Law book published by BYU. “Absent a BYU Law School, there would be no way to publish these ideas that we all hold dear as attorneys. But it’s not just the faculty at the law school, it’s the Clark Society that is bringing those ideas, incubating those ideas, having those ideas around the world, and spreading them around the country.”
Following Dean Rasband’s comments, Reese Hansen began his remarks with a story:
“I asked Scott Cameron for some advice on what I should do with this time tonight, and he said he would think about it. He did think about it, and when I came in tonight he handed me a note and he said ‘here’s my advice.’”
“I unfolded the note, and the front page said ‘Socrates.’ I opened it up and it said ‘Socrates gave long speeches . . . Socrates was poisoned by his friends.’”
Hansen spoke about the mission of the Clark Society, that members would bless the communities in which they serve through public service and example. Specifically, he focused on public service excluding pro bono work and work done for public institutions for pay.
“For the most part,” he said “public service is what we do for a good cause, because we want to help out.”
Hansen sympathetically spoke of those who feel stretched by the combination of church service, taking care of families, and trying to be an excellent lawyer. Many feel like that is enough service to be sufficient.
“But, see, I know better because you’re here. You’ve already said ‘I’m going to do something more.’ I want to encourage you, as leaders of the Law Society and leaders of the Alumni Association, to encourage your members to get involved in public service. There’s lots of ways to do it.”
Explaining the obligation the he sees in the power that comes with being a lawyer, Hansen spoke of a similar situation described in the Book of Mormon, in 3 Nephi 6:12:
“And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.”
“Less than 4/10 of one percent of people in the United States are lawyers . . . and because you’ve had that opportunity, I think you have a solemn duty. Your education obligates you to use your skills in helping, and healing, and connecting and building, and heaven knows we need it.” said Hansen.
Warning that many Law Society members would feel uncomfortable in public service when they begin, Hansen explained how his first experiences were also uncomfortable but later led to great opportunities to help and serve. He advised that members of the Church would be unwise to hide their membership in it, but neither should they try to impose their own moral code on the groups they work with.
Speaking of his own service and the influence it has had on him and his wife, Hansen said “My little effort in public service has brought to our circle of dear friends many people we would not otherwise have known. We’ve had rich and wonderful experiences. We have been blessed more than we have helped out.”
Following the speech, members of the law society expressed a renewed commitment to public service.
“He articulated the feelings we have all had when we stuck our toe into public service,” said Sharla Hales “and he helped us figure out why we feel that way.”
“It’s good to be encouraged by people you look up to,” said Allison Hughes, a 3rd year law student at BYU.
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Video from Conference: