J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Shared Keynote Address & Discussion: Cecil O. Samuelson and Michael K. Young

Shared Keynote Address & Discussion: Cecil O. Samuelson and Michael K. Young

Cecil O. Samuelson, president of Brigham Young University (BYU) and Michael K. Young, president of University of Utah, spoke at the J. Reuben Clark Law Society (JRCLS) conference on Friday morning.

Nancy Van Slooten, chair of the JRCLS, first addressed the audience. She introduced the 2010 theme for the JRCLS conference, which was “service for good through the law,” and expressed a need for lawyers to be an influence for good.

Van Slooten read the mission statement of the the JRCLS to the audience: “We affirm the strength brought to the law by a lawyer’s personal religious conviction. We strive through public service and professional excellence to promote fairness and virtue founded upon the rule of law.”

Speaking of the JRCLS, Van Slooten said, “It’s  not an alumni group of Brigham Young University or University of Utah, but a group of LDS attorneys that follow our mission statement," Van Slooten said, speaking of the JRCLS. "If you adhere to this mission statement, you are needed in this law society.”   

James R. Rasband, dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, then introduced BYU’s president, Cecil O. Samuelson. Samuelson, who has a medical background, expressed intimidation of his “lack of legal education on either side of the bench.”

Samuelson described the impactful service of mentoring others as a way to follow the conference theme and do "service for good through the law."  He explained his unusual connection to J. Reuben Clark Jr. as a result of the service of mentoring.

“J. Reuben Clark Jr. died when I was a missionary,” he said. “I’ve never had a conservation with him… but he’s had a great influence on me.”

When Samuelson was called to his position at BYU, he sat down with his mentor, LDS apostle Elder Neal A. Maxwell, for some much-needed advice and comfort. Maxwell spoke to Samuelson of his “non-familial genealogy” – his mentors. Maxwell explained the influence of many prominent and influential mentors in Samuelson’s life. Harold B. Lee mentored Maxwell, and J. Reuben Clark, Jr. mentored Lee.  James E. Talmage mentored Clark, and Karl G. Maser mentored Talmage.     

Samuelson described each of these men as having an “eye for exceptional talent.” He described the connection between mentor and mentee and an appreciation for the influence they have had in his life. While he never sat down with J. Reuben Clark Jr., Samuelson did benefit from the service he rendered.

“I find myself saying, ‘what would Maxwell do?’  Mentoring is an important form of service,” Samuelson said. “You can have a tremendous positive influence on others… few professions are like the law, where you can have so great an influence.”

Hiram E. Chodosh, dean of the S.J. Quinney College of Law, then introduced University of Utah president, Michael K. Young. Young, who studied law, expressed appreciation to be surrounded by lawyers.

“I feel like a fish out of water when I’m not with lawyers,” Young said. “It’s nice to be with my people.”

Young spoke about how great leaders can encourage others to do good. He has found that all great leaders have one thing in common: they all view themselves as servants.

“Great leaders emerge because at the end of the day, they seriously serve with all their heart, mind, might and strength,” Young said. “And they make no substitute for hard work. Great service requires great effort.”

He explained that as leaders set an example to serve, others will be inspired to serve also.

Written By:  Lisa Anderson

Posted: 2010-02-19