J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Leadership Spotlight: JRCLS Executive Director Gayla Moss Sorenson

Gayla Moss Sorenson grew up in a small-town, cotton-growing
farming community south of Lubbock, Texas. When she attended Brigham Young University as an undergraduate accounting major she already had her sights set on law school. After earning her law degree in 1985 at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, she worked for Lewis Roca Rothberger Christie LLP in Phoenix in their bankruptcy and employment law sections. Sorenson left the law firm life to work as counsel for Motorola where she stayed for twenty years. The in-house path led from Motorola to Axiom to Biomet, then an unexpected career turn led her to become Dean of Admissions at J. Reuben Clark Law Society in 2014 followed by her recent change of position to be the Dean of External Relations.

It was while working for Motorola in Pennsylvania that she became heavily involved with the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. Her friend, Doug Bush, invited her to several Law Society events in Washington, D.C. and she was hooked. “I loved the substance of it, reuniting with people I already knew, meeting new people. I loved working with students, and I just dove in at that point and never really looked back,” Sorenson reflects. She volunteered on the Conference and Events committee and loved every part of the planning and executions of annual and leadership conferences. (She also loved the budget side of it and using her accounting skills: “I’m always very happy when I can use a spreadsheet!”) She found her service particularly rewarding as she got to know other practicing attorneys and worked with the speakers and special guests.

In May 2009 she found herself between jobs and reached out to friend Cole Durham to become involved with the International Center for Law and Religion Studies. Sorenson has served as a senior fellow with the Center since that time, with her primary work having been developing a volunteer network to assist with research and web content. She has scaled back since but is still involved and stays abreast of religious freedom developments. You will often see her as a CLE presenter on the subject.

Gayla married widower Ferril Sorenson and found herself with an insta-family of husband and four children. She tributes Ferril as her central support, enabling her to excel in her already well-established career and to use her skills in a variety of ways. He is especially supportive because she commutes from Indiana to Utah! When together, Gayla and Ferril enjoy entertaining: inviting others over for games, meals, and barbecues. They especially love spending time with their grandchildren across the country.

Sorenson is an avid sports fan, with tennis and softball as her specialties in her more active days. Now you may run into her on a hike, on the golf course, or maybe at the yoga studio. As an avid reader, she can supply you with book recommendations from classics and biographies to mysteries and fiction. Because she got married later in life, Sorenson has a special relationship with her 21 nieces and nephews. In fact, one of her hobbies is to read what literature they are reading to stay in touch with them during their teenage years.

 It is no wonder that Sorenson was invited to bring all these—and more—impressive professional and personal qualities to the position of JRCLS Executive Director. The Executive Director’s main roles are to help the Board, Operations Committee, and committee chairs facilitate the practical, logistical needs of the Law Society and to strengthen the sense of community among our group of faith-based attorneys. “I see myself contributing directly to help shape the vision and expand how we achieve that and live up to our mission statement,” says Sorenson. “What I would like to see as part of my legacy is further strengthening the relationships between experienced attorneys and young attorneys and students.” She recognizes the BYU Law School and the J. Reuben Clark Law Society as being a great benefit to each other “because we bring together people who have a service-oriented, faith-based approach to the law.” Sorenson identifies the JRCLS practice sections and Women in Law as prime areas to share knowledge and provide wise counsel. Additionally, she would like to encourage greater community involvement by our members—on bar associations, school boards, city councils—not to promote a particular point of view, but to be seen as proven and credible thought leaders who can influence their communities for good.

If you don’t run into Gayla globe-trotting with Ferril or adventuring with one of her nieces and nephews, be sure to seek out a conversation with her at the next JRCLS event you attend. You will not be disappointed!

By Danielle Dallas, Media Committee member and Utah Central Chapter Chair

Posted: January 31, 2018