J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Annual Leadership Conference Inspires to "Build and Extend"

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society Leadership Conference was held at Brigham Young University and Aspen Grove 2-3 October 2014.  The sessions focused on the theme, “Build and Extend.”  The conference began with tours of the BYU Broadcasting Building and the newly renovated Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum.

A special session was held for law students with a panel of attorneys discussing what type of law they practice, their path getting there, and the perks or negatives of what they do. The panel included Jonathan Toronto, Karen Clemes, Cynthia Lange, Jeff Clayton, Kent Cammack, and Tom Isaacson.

BYU Athletic Director, Tom Holmoe discussed how leaders can inspire others through strong relationships in his keynote address. He shared John Maxwell’s hierarchy of relationships—surface, structure, secure, solid, and significant—and encouraged the audience to work toward developing more solid and significant relationships, allowing for complete trust, absolute confidence, and ultimately the ability to lift each other to a level that could not be achieved alone. He shared the story of Ronnie Lott—his teammate on the San Francisco 49ers—cutting off his broken finger so he could continue to play through the season instead of sitting on the bench until his finger healed.  Holmoe emphasized that it is hard to make excuses when a team member and leader exhibits that much dedication.

Director Holmoe’s remarks were followed by a panel entitled “Why Should a Busy Lawyer Become a Member of the Law Society?” Stephen West moderated the panel, and Steve Earl, Nancy VanSlooten, and Rick Varner served as panelists. The panel of Law Society leaders observed that the Law Society helps us balance our lives, thereby providing direction and focus even to busy lawyers. We also have opportunities to mentor and strengthen other members of the Law Society. Developing a strong community presence affords the Law Society respect when we speak out on issues important to our mission statement. Increasing membership can be accomplished by extending personal invitations to new members to participate in meaningful ways, forming groups of people eager to revive struggling chapters, developing engaging programs to attract attendees, and honoring members who have served extensively in the community and will promote the public image of the Law Society.

Next, Dr. Warner Woodworth, an expert in microfinance and organizational behavior, spoke on “Building a Passion for Life, Professional Career, and the J. Reuben Clark Law Society.” Dr. Woodworth focused his remarks on how members of the Law Society can become social entrepreneurs and discussed his extensive career developing microfinance programs throughout the world and urged the audience to “tithe their time.” He quoted President Gordon B. Hinckley’s 1998 commencement address at the University of Utah to emphasize his theme: “It is not enough that you get a job, that you get married, that you feverishly work to produce the kind of income which will make possible the luxuries of the world. You may gain some recompense in all of this, but you will not gain the ultimate satisfaction.” President Hinckley pleaded, “with all your getting[,] also give to make the world a little better.”

Conference attendees also met by region with chapters sharing ideas of what has worked well in their areas. Ideas included a “low bono” program that allows people in need to access legal services from JRCLS members for a reduced fee, partnering with law schools and other pro bono clinics to avoid malpractice issues, and coordinating with local church leaders to find referrals for pro bono work. Leaders also discussed characteristics of successful chapters, including utilizing a chair, chair-elect, and other board members; having regular board meetings; and planning an annual calendar.

The regional break-out session was followed by a CLE presentation by BYU Law Professor RonNell Andersen Jones entitled, “What the U.S. Supreme Court Thinks of the Press (and Why It Matters).” Concurrent with the CLE presentation were meetings for the international chapters and committees of the International Board.

Later Thursday evening the conference moved to Aspen Grove where, during dinner, BYU religion professors, Susan Easton Black Durrant and George Durrant, gave a rip-roaring keynote address. The Durrants had the audience in stitches as they told the story of their courtship: according to Susan, only after recommendation letters from President Monson and several apostles and a good-natured threat of incarceration from Chief Justice Matthew Durrant of the Utah Supreme Court (and George’s son) did she accept George’s proposal. George’s remarks were equally entertaining as he used personal stories to illustrate, “If you don’t have any problems it means you got crossed off the Lord’s list.” He spoke about the influence for good we can have on others and instructed, “You don’t have to have self-confidence, you just have to have Christ-confidence.” Susan finished their address with an engaging history of the Prophet Brigham Young’s life and the development of Brigham Young University.

Also at Thursday’s dinner, Ginny Isaacson was announced as the new Chair-Elect of the Law Society. She will begin duties as International Chair in October 2015.

The conference resumed early Friday morning with the tradition of a sunrise hike to Stewart Falls. Special breakfast meetings were held for Women in the Law and first-time conference attendees. In the following plenary session, Jeremiah Morgan, International Chair of the Law Society, addressed the conference theme “Build & Extend.” He urged Law Society leaders to build the kingdom, serve others, defend faith, stand up for those who cannot defend themselves, influence others, and improve by association. He also announced the upcoming Law Society January membership drive discussed in a previous article.

Jeremiah’s remarks were followed by presentations from various committee chairs, including Charles Roberts for the Sections Committee, Karen Clemes for Women in the Law, Tom Isaacson for the Media Committee, and Cory Lee and members of the board for the Student Chapters Board.  The conference was inspiring and encouraged all who attended to strengthen their local chapters throughout the coming year. 

By Megan Needham

Posted: November 7, 2014