Serving in the Isles of the Sea: An Interview with Area Legal Counsel Arthur Edgson
Brother Edgson received his J.D. from J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1981 and returned to his native Canada to practice law as a barrister and solicitor in Vancouver. He often says “you cannot be any more Canadian than I am,” as he was born on July 1st, Canada Day. Art currently resides in Auckland, New Zealand where he has served as Area Legal Counsel (ALC) over the Pacific Area since 2012.
Brother Edgson is accompanied in New Zealand by his wife, DeEtte, a native of Blackfoot, Idaho, whom he met in college. The Edgsons have four grown children and eight grandchildren. All four children, who hold dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship, are married and live in the United States.
After Brother Edgson retired from law practice at age fifty-eight, he and his wife desired to devote their time and energy to missionary service for the LDS Church. The Edgsons envisioned possibly serving a humanitarian mission somewhere throughout the world. The call to serve, however, was for Brother Edgson, with his wife, to serve a mission for the Office of General Counsel as an Associate Area Legal Counsel (AALC) for the Europe Area. Serving in Solihull, England, the Edgsons fell in love with the United Kingdom and its people, and with missionary service as a couple.
At the conclusion of the Edgsons' service in the United Kingdom, Elder Lance B. Wickman, the Church’s General Counsel, asked them if they would accept an assignment to go to New Zealand where Art would serve as ALC over the Pacific Area. Needless to say, it was a very easy decision for the two of them to make. Brother Edgson notes that living in New Zealand and serving the Lord while there as an ALC, is a cherished, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Description of Area:
Brother Edgson oversees the Church's legal affairs for the Pacific Area which covers 19 countries including Australia and New Zealand. It also includes the islands of Tonga, Samoa, American Samoa, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Nauru, Niue, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna Islands and Vanuatu. The Pacific Area has 10 temples, 17 missions, 133 stakes and 36 districts. Approximately 520,000 members of the LDS Church reside in the Area.
With 19 different countries and a huge geographic area to oversee, Brother Edgson manages a wide range of legal issues. They include ensuring compliance of all Church legal entities, retaining and managing local counsel to advise on legal issues within the various countries, Church humanitarian initiatives, audits, government relations, issues arising from the acquisition of real estate and construction of Church buildings, and matters relating to missionaries, visas, and tax and finance. He is grateful for the opportunity to be involved in such a broad range of stimulating legal work while representing the interests of the Church.
From right to left: Arthur Edgson, Auma Ming Leung Wai (the former Attorney
General of Samoa), Fiti (the Attorney General's wife), and Elder S. Gifford
Nielsen (First Counsellor Area Presidency)
Interfacing with Government Officials:
In his role as ALC, Brother Edgeson interacts with various government officials including prime ministers, heads of state, attorney generals and members of parliament.
Brother Edgson's Canadian background has helped him on several occasions to make personal connections with government officials. In particular, the Samoan Head of State knew the late Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, and Trudeau's son Justin. The Samoan leader conversed with Art about the positive relationship he had had with Trudeau, and discussed the recent election of Justin Trudeau as Canada's newest Prime Minister.
Rewards of Serving as an ALC:
Brother Edgson encourages other lawyers to consider serving as Associate Area Legal Counsel or Area Legal Counsel if given the opportunity.
Through his work as an AALC and ALC, he has been blessed with the opportunity to meet with wonderful and loving members of the Church throughout the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the island nations of the South Pacific.
Brother Edgson advises lawyers to focus on the good that they can do. He was motivated to go to law school in part to help people and to be of service. His service as an AALC and ALC has given him the unique opportunity to combine his professional skills with his desire to serve and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has often felt the hand of the Lord guiding and assisting him with lawyering decisions that needed to be made in the UK and Pacific Area on behalf of the Church. He feels blessed to be trusted by the Lord to serve as an AALC and ALC and associate with the other fine lawyers in the Office of General Counsel who are all, like him, on the Lord's errand. His service as an AALC and ALC has been a soul refining experience that has continued to strengthen his testimony of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For this, he is eternally grateful.
By Wendy F. Jerdon, Media Committee
Posted: May 27, 2016