J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Ready to Retire? Serve as an Associate Area Legal Counsel

In a meeting with the First Presidency of the LDS Church, Elder Lance B. Wickman, Boyd J. Black, and Bill Atkin were asked by President Hinckley for a proposal on how to use retired LDS attorneys to assist with the legal work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The proposal they presented to President Hinckley became the origin of the Associate Area Legal Counsel (“AALC”) missionary program: Assign interested, retired LDS attorneys to work in one of the foreign area legal offices. AALCs are full-time Church service missionaries and are called by the First Presidency to serve in a specific Area Office. They are not assigned to a specific mission or mission president but serve directly under the Area Presidency or their delegate.

In 1999, attorneys Leo Jardine and Gary Theurer were called by the First Presidency as the first AALCs and were assigned to assist Brother Keith Hilbig who was then serving as Area Legal Counsel in Europe. Brother and Sister Jardine were assigned to Moscow, Russia, and Brother and Sister Theurer were assigned to Frankfurt, Germany. These international legal offices handle a broad range of matters on a daily basis from real estate projects to immigration matters to corporate maintenance for the various Church legal entities.

Assignments for AALC spouses will vary. The Office of General Counsel through the assigned Area Legal Counsel works with each couple, once called, to determine the interests, language abilities, skills, and any professional training of the non-attorney spouse. Brother Lane and Sister Chris Archibald were called to serve in Sydney Australia. While Brother Archibald was busy with a variety of cases and matters related to the Pacific Area, Sister Archibald played a vital role in the Sydney North Mission. Together they grew to love the country, the people, and the missionaries and were blessed to be involved with the teaching and baptism of a family from Sri Lanka in October 2014.

Brother Holtkamp, who served from March 2015 to September 2016 in the South America South Area reflected on the AALC experience: “I learned that there are miracles even in legal work when the Lord wants something done, from tax exemption issues for the new temple in Concepción, to facilitating religious leaders in Chile to band together to protect religious freedom in the formation of a new national Constitution. But as much as anything else, being a missionary was an extraordinary experience because we saw the hand of the Lord in our lives each day.” While Brother Holtkamp served as an AALC, Sister Holtkamp found great fulfillment through her calling as an ordinance worker in the Santiago Temple.


Since 1999, more than 60 couples have served as AALC, with 24 couples serving currently, including Sister Eileen Crane, the first retired sister LDS lawyer, and her non-attorney spouse Russ. Additionally, there are four couples who were both attorneys and both served as AALCs. Elizabeth Smith, who returned almost year ago from serving in Russia with her attorney husband, Gary, encourages others to seize the AALC opportunity: “The Lord cares about what AALCs do and needs them. I loved fusing law and the work of the Kingdom. We have particular, atypical skills that are needed. To all retired or about-to-be-retired LDS lawyers, I say, ‘Talk to Bill Atkin. Go—don’t delay! You will not regret it.’”

So, if you are approaching the next phase of your life, please consider using your hard-earned, unique legal skills as an AALC. The process is simple as Elizabeth stated: contact Brother Bill Atkin. You can email him at AtkinWF@ldschurch.org. He will work with you to find the right mission for you and a meaningful missionary assignment for your spouse.

By Danielle Dallas, Media Committee


Posted: March 31, 2017