J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Beautiful Days In Banff: Report of the 5th Annual
JRCLS Canadian Conference, October 28-29

Once again, we were pleased to host the 5th Annual JRCLS Canadian Chapter Conference on October 28-29, 2016 at the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, which is nestled in the majestic Canadian Rockies.

The conference opened with a short networking reception on the Friday night which gave attendees a chance to renew old acquaintances, and make new ones. The event was well attended with many members being accompanied by their spouses.  

Virginia Isaacson, JRCLS International Chair, took a few minutes to speak on the growth of the Law Society globally with regional conferences sprouting up all over the world. She highlighted some of the benefits that come from membership including building faith, providing opportunities to serve, practicing leadership and participating in the defense of religious freedoms.


L-R: Matt Sommerfeldt (Canada Area Assistant Director), Richard Low (Award Recipient),
Bruce Laycock (Canada Area Director), and Virginia Isaacson ( JRCLS Chair)]

This year the Hugh B. Brown Service Award was presented to Richard Low who practices law in Lethbridge, Alberta in recognition of his outstanding service to the legal profession, his family, community and the LDS church. Quality Chapter Awards were also presented to the Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge Chapters of the Law Society.



[44 right justified with caption: From L-R: Casey Smith,Dan England, Jake Robinson,
Elder Tad Callister, Kathy Callister, Michael Low, Christopher Stephan]

This year we were pleased to have Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School General President of the LDS Church, speak.  He was accompanied by his spouse Kathryn. Instead of a traditional keynote speech, Brother and Sister Callister conducted a mock trial as opposing counsel with Brother Callister as the defense and Sister Callister as the prosecution. The Callister’s invited Jake Robinson, a lawyer from Lethbridge, to sit as judge. Jake served as a missionary under Brother Callister when he presided over the Canada Toronto East Mission. At issue within the trial was the LDS statement that “Man can become like God.” The mock trial was thoroughly enjoyed by all in attendance with five witnesses being called in defense: the voice of the scriptures, early Christian writers, noble poets and authors, the voice of history, and finally the power of logic.  All came away with a better understanding of this foundational doctrine within the plan of salvation.


Michael L. Jensen
Michael L. Jensen, Office of the General Counsel of the LDS Church opened our Saturday morning session. His topic covered religious freedom internationally and some of the challenges that exist for the LDS church and its members. He also shared some opportunities that exist for us as lawyers to become more involved in the cause of religious freedom locally and internationally.

Earl Phillips
We next heard from Earl Phillips, Executive Director of TWU Law, Trinity Western University located in Langley, British Columbia. Mr. Phillips, a practicing Christian not of our faith, shared insight on  the recent struggles TWU is having in getting their law school recognized in Canada. TWU is a faith based institution with an honor code similar to BYU. TWU has faced significant opposition from some law societies across Canada because of the school’s community covenant which confines sexual relations to be only expressed “between a man and a woman.” These six words are the substantive reason TWU’s law school has not yet been recognized. Litigation is currently ongoing across the country which will have a direct impact on the cause of religious freedom in Canada.


Justice Kenneth G. Nielsen, Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta addressed the need for civility in the law. Justice Nielsen noted that there has been a decline in civility within the profession and discussed why this is occurring and how we can work toward greater civility.. He shared with us tips for fostering greater civility in our practices and in court.

Dean D. Gordon Smith

Our concluding speaker was D. Gordon Smith, Dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School. Dean Smith’s topic was entitled “Personal Reflections on Law and Leadership.” He suggested that obedience alone is insufficient to allow us to remain on the straight and narrow path. We also need to be willing to improvise as we travel down life’s path. In our practices and in life, we need to address new problems with a spirit of improvisation and be willing to have the courage necessary to act in spite of not having a clear picture of what awaits us. We don’t need to see the end in order to act, we just need to take one step at a time.

With another conference come and gone, steps are already underway for next year’s conference. We wish to extend a sincere expression of gratitude for all of the wonderful speakers that gave of their time to share messages of inspiration to our members. There was much to take away from this conference that has, most definitely, inspired those in attendance to become more active in all aspects of religious liberty and promoting the values we as members of the Law Society treasure.

By Mark Holthe, Chair of the Lethbridge, Alberta chapter

Posted: November 17, 2016