Inaugural Conference of the New West African JRCLS Chapter
The following article was submitted by Keith Thompson.
The inaugural conference of the new West African chapter of the J Reuben Clark Law Society was held at Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria over the weekend of August 21 & 22, 2010.
Elder Declan Madu of the Seventy from Owerri, in Imo State, was appointed Chair of the new JRCLS chapter with Edward (Ted) Goh from Accra, Ghana as Chair Elect. The conference was attended by 32 lawyers and students along with Justice Esohe Francis Ikpomwem of the Nigerian High Court at Benin City. Seven of those in attendance were women . Two delegates from Monrovia, Liberia enjoyed the distinction of traveling the farthest to attend the Conference.
Elder Madu gave the opening address entitled, “Is the practice of law compatible with religious belief?”. Justice Ikpomwem remarks focused on “What the Judiciary expects from LDS lawyers.” Others addressing the conference included Chijioke Okoro, a prominent Government lawyer who outlined legal career options with State and Federal Governments in Nigeria and Elder Adesinna Olukanni of the Seventy and a former member of the Africa West Area Presidency who taught both “What [the Church] expects of LDS lawyers” and “How [they] can retain their faith while [they] practice law.” Each speaker closed sufficiently early to allow ‘cross-examination’ by conference delegates. This was particularly unusual in the case of Justice Ikpomwem since there is normally such a clear protocol line between the Bench and the Bar in West African legal practice. There was also extensive panel discussion about how a busy legal practitioner can best find an appropriate balance between the competing demands of a family, a demanding church assignment and a successful legal career.
A highlight of the conference was the International Chair of the J Reuben Clark Law Society, Nancy Van Slooten, who joined the proceedings by Skype on the big screen. Nancy gave the conference an overview of the nature of the worldwide J Reuben Clark Law Society and the benefits enjoyed by members worldwide. Then she too was subjected to respectful cross-examination, including questions from Justice Ikpomwen to whom she explained the existence of a separate Judges section within the International Society.
The Conference Dinner was held in the Old Nigeria Lagos West Mission Home on Saturday night, and Elder John B, Dickson of the Seventy and First Counselor on the Africa West Area Presidency, concluded the Conference with a Fireside entitled “Born for a time such as this” on Sunday afternoon which was opened to general Church membership.