Plenary Keynote Panel: Fulfilling the Law Society's Mission for Good
BYU Law professors and other influential members of the JRCLS spoke at the JRCLS conference about the society's ability to serve. BYU law professors H. Reese Hansen and Kevin J. Worthen spoke along with Ralph W. Hardy, Jr., past J. Reuben Clark Law Society (JRCLS) chair, Charles E. Jones, former chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, and Nancy Van Slooten, chair of JRCLS, at the panel on Friday.
Scott Cameron, Associate Dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, introduced the panelists and congratulated the JRCLS on 22 years of service to LDS lawyers.
Hardy, also an Area Authority Seventy for the LDS church, was the first panelist to speak. He talked about his experience attending the dedication of the J. Reuben Clark Law School. He remembered listening to Marion G. Romney speak about what it means to be a Latter-day Saint (LDS) lawyer.
“I had an epiphany… and we thought about the idea of an association of LDS lawyers,” Hardy said. “When it was started we never anticipated it would be as great as it would become.”
Hardy recalled their first large meeting in Washington D.C. He got a committee together and they personally called every LDS lawyer in the area to come to the meeting. He wanted each lawyer to know that this was important. They were successful with 350 lawyers in attendance at the conference, a small number today but large at the time.
Hansen, former dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School and President elect of the Assocation of American Law Schools, was the second panelist to speak. He spoke about the importance of fellowship among LDS lawyers. He recalled a small conference in Topeka, Kansas held to make sure the benefits of the law society reached lawyers in locations with not as many LDS lawyers.
“There was not more than 30 people including lawyers, spouses and students,” Hansen said. “The wife of a lawyer stood up to speak and said… ‘I’m so glad to be here tonight with my husband so he can see all of you and hear from your lips that you’re dealing with the same struggles. He felt so alone.’”
Hansen remembered another small conference held in London. He met a lawyer there that took the train all night just to meet other LDS lawyers in the UK. As soon as the conference ended, he caught another long train ride back to Scotland.
“He wanted to come and be a part of the fellowship he hoped to discover,” Hansen said.
He asked the audience to seek out lawyers who need support.
“Most of you aren’t all alone,” Hansen said. “Not like the lawyer in Kansas or like the lawyer in Scotland that traveled all day and night… but I have a feeling there are other LDS lawyers within your reach that need fellowship.”
He also asked lawyers to help graduating students.
“There has never been a year that has been so bleak for graduating students,” Hansen said. “For them, this is a moment in their life they can really use a hand… do anything you can do to give them an opportunity, we need each other.”
Jones, the third panelist to speak, asked the audience to remember the history of the J. Reuben Clark Law School and everything that had to happen in order for the law school to exist.
The JRCLS has an incredible list of LDS lawyers who want to be involved and an unlimited opportunity for growth, Jones said.
“The law society provide camaraderie and collegiality through common interests,” Jones said. “It will accomplish much good in the years ahead.”
Worthen, former dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School and BYU Advancement Vice President, was the fourth panelist to speak. Worthen said one of the most important things the JRCLS does is provide mentors to young lawyers. As a Dean, Worthen created a scholarship in the name of “Bud” Jones, another panelist.
“I used his name because I wanted students to know his name,” Worthen said. “This is the kind of lawyer we want them to be. I hope they come to know who he is… so he can be an indirect mentor.”
Worthen, who practiced at the same law firm as Jones, spoke about how much he admired Jones’ ethical conduct in the field. He described Jones as the kind of person someone always listens to “because of who he is,” and how he lives his life. He explained that each lawyer could achieve this influence as they serve others through mentoring. Worthen was optimistic about the future of the JRCLS.
“I think the hand of the Lord will continue to be on the J. Reuben Clark Law Society,” Worthen said. “It will have a tremendous impact on lives.”
Van Slooten, the last panelist to speak, spoke about her long association with the JRCLS and the growth it has had since.
“I feel like I’ve grown up in the law society,” Van Slooten said.
Van Slooten remembers when the JRCLS had only 10-12 members at conferences. The society has grown a lot since then. She listed some impressive statistics – the JRCLS has 8,534 members and 65 chapters in 32 different states. She described the society’s plans to grow not only domestically, but also internationally in the near future.
“Please let us know what you are doing for good, share with us on JRCLS.org,” Van Slooten said. “We need to reach out and help each other, be out in the communities to be seen for good, so JRCLS is seen as good.”
An announcement was made that next year’s conference will be held at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Please visit JRCLS.org for more information.
Written By: Lisa Anderson