J. Reuben Clark Law Society

A Tribute to Mary Hoagland, Retired JRCLS Executive Director

When I asked Mary what word she would use to describe her family culture she replied, “We value education. One of my sons said he might as well stay at BYU to get a master’s degree after his undergrad—because everyone in the family has a graduate degree.” In fact, Mary didn’t just earn one graduate degree: she earned three! Improvement and edification are defining traits of both her professional and personal life.

Born and raised in Provo Utah, Mary studied English as an undergraduate at both BYU and San Diego State. Shortly after she married Dennis Hoagland, he began law school. Mary had enjoyed participating on the debate team in high school and began thinking about the possibility of law school for herself. Following graduation, Dennis’ employment took the family to Fresno where Mary enrolled at San Joaquin College of Law despite being in the midst of raising three sons. Prior to law school, Mary worked part-time for the San Diego Community College system in their adult education program for seven years while earning a Masters in Educational Technology and Librarianship at San Diego State. During and after law school, she worked in law firms and for judges in Fresno for nine years before returning with her family to Utah.

The day before sitting for the Utah Bar, Mary interviewed for the Career Services Director position at Brigham Young University Law School. Although she only committed to staying for two years, Mary fell in love with the students and the law school faculty and staff and stayed for much longer—23 years. “The job was a great fit and they gave me freedom to create new programs so it was always challenging. I liked the seasonal nature of the work which cycled each year with the semesters. I had a perfect job because I was able to do three different but related things: (1) counsel with and teach students, (2) work with alumni and alumni boards and leaders to support the law school and law students, and (3) work with Law Society members and leaders throughout the world. The personal friendships that have developed from these associations over 23 years have been wonderful. And, I got to work with great people in my departments. You can’t beat that combination.”

During her time at BYU Mary also earned a PhD in Education for “personal satisfaction.” Upon her retirement in December 2016, Mary was Dean of External Relations. “Mary Hoagland is leaving an impressive legacy of service at the law school,” said former dean Jim Rasband.  “She elevated the work of our Career Services and Professional Development Office, initiating regional job fairs, developing relationships with law firms all over the country, and serving in NALP leadership. She also led out in growing the BYU Law School Alumni Association, including its mentoring program. We can all be grateful for her tireless organizational and leadership efforts with so many alumni events: Founders Day, class reunions, the semi-annual General Conference receptions, alumni cruises, Supreme Court Swearing-In Weekends, and the list goes on.”

One of the Mary’s hallmark traits is her poise and diplomacy, which has benefitted every organization and person with which she has worked. Charles Roberts, former BYU Law Alumni president observed, “If there was ever an issue that required a delicate touch, Mary was the one to call. She always seemed to have the right answer to every problem. She was the ultimate diplomat.” He continued,


Mary knew how to take a group of people with varying agendas and personalities and bring them together for a common cause. I saw this first hand in her work with the law school alumni association and with the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. I’m sure she did the same through her work with NALP. She did this while avoiding the spotlight for herself, while ensuring that the right people were in the spotlight. Instead of focusing on her own success, she found success by ensuring the success of those working with her. She quietly worked tirelessly on projects, yet never seemed to care who got the credit for her successes.… My perception is that she truly loves people; thus, it is not surprising that I never heard her say anything negative about anyone. I consider her a great friend and wonderful example of a leader.

Mark Webber, also a past BYU Law Alumni president expressed similar sentiments. “Mary was a leader who had a vision. She was hard working, kind, inclusive, and focused.”

Beth Hansen, a BYU Law colleague of Mary’s since 1999, observed that Mary is much more than “extremely innovative” and visionary as she “instituted many new programs and initiatives.” Mary is also a “good friend, mentor, and colleague.” Beth shared some examples of how Mary has impacted her personal sphere: “After the death of a beloved pet, she wrote me a blank check, literally, to pay for medical expenses. When I found out my mother was terminally ill, Mary was the first and only person I told for many months. On another occasion she gave me her first-class seat on a flight from New York City while she sat in coach. She opened her home each year to the Career Services Staff and their guests for a Holiday dinner, always going all out with decorations and food. … We dressed up each Halloween (witches, bikers, and hippies). I know the Law School Community, and myself in particular, will miss this great lady.”  

Mary’s contributions to the J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Law Society President Virginia Tate Isaacson thanks
Mary Hoagland for her years of service to the Law
Society with a plaque of J. Reuben Clark. Jr
began when she joined the Law School and helped plan and run the annual Law Society Leadership Conferences. Now a dedicated team of volunteers run the conferences and other Law Society events, but Mary has continued to be an integral part of the smooth workings of the Law Society, particularly in her most recent role as Executive Director. Mary has felt satisfaction from being part of an organization that has very active pro bono representation programs on the chapter level to bless surrounding communities, mentoring of new attorneys and students, and the general connectedness through local meetings/events, annual conferences, the fireside, and many forms of electronic communication.  

Now that Mary has retired from BYU Law School and as Executive Director of the JRCLS, we will find her more often in the beauty of nature or enjoying the fine arts (she has already attended 4 operas in a recent, post-retirement trip to New York City!). Or perhaps we can spot her with one or more of her 14 grandchildren at a musical production, ballet, or art gallery, on the ski slopes, or on a camping excursion with their soon-to-be-restored 1981 Vanagon. We will miss your steadiness and poise, Mary, and we know that you will continue to have an incalculable impact on your family as you have had on every person and organization you worked with in your professional career.

By Danielle Dallas, Media Committee


Posted: March 31, 2017