J. Reuben Clark Law Society

30th Anniversary - The Founding of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, 1988-2018

From L-R: Nancy Stevenson Van Slooten, Brent J. Belnap, Joseph I. Bentley, Lew Cramer, William F. Atkin, R. Marshall Tanner, Charles E. Jones, Ralph W. Hardy Jr., Scott W. Cameron

In the Autumn of 1988, Dean Bruce C. Hafen and Ralph W. Hardy, Jr. gathered a group of prominent LDS Lawyers to discuss the formation of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society: Wilford Andersen from Mesa, Arizona; Gary Anderson from San Francisco, California; Everett Bento from Houston, Texas; Joseph Cannon from Provo, Utah; Val Christensen from Salt Lake City, Utah; Paul Gilbert from Phoenix, Arizona; Douglas Higham from Newport Beach, California; William Ingersoll from Washington D.C.; Brent Israelson from Washington D.C.; Dale Kimball from Salt Lake City; Michele Mitchell from Salt Lake City, Utah; William Mussman from San Francisco, California; Nancy Stevenson from Downey, California; Monte Stewart from Las Vegas, Nevada; Judith Thomas from Shaumburg, Illinois; and John S. Welch from Los Angeles, California. Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws were drafted, a decision was made that the Society would be an affiliated organization of Brigham Young University so that it could be covered by the umbrella of BYU’s I.R.C. 501 (c)(3) status. These lawyers started to organize chapters of the fledgling Law Society in their regions of the country.

The largest two initial events were held in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. The dinner in Washington D.C. was held to coincide with the first “Swearing In” Ceremony where graduates and friends of the BYU Law School were sworn in as members of the bar of the United States Supreme Court. Over 300 assembled at the Mayflower Hotel with Rex E. Lee as the featured speaker. Ralph Hardy and Bruce Hafen introduced the J. Reuben Clark Law Society with Ralph Hardy as the first National Chair and Bill Ingersoll as the Mid-Atlantic Chapter chair. In May 1989, John S. Welch, Nancy Stevenson, Douglas Higham and a committee of volunteers in Los Angeles organized an event to commence the Los Angeles Chapter. The event was held at the Los Angeles Hilton. Announcements were made regarding the formal opening of the Los Angeles Chapter and an endowed professorship at the BYU Law School honoring Elder Howard W. Hunter who was the featured speaker.

Within the next two years there were organizing events for local chapters in Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Portland, and Chicago. At the same time an extensive campaign was established to identify LDS attorneys throughout the United States and Canada for the publication of the first Directory of the Society which identified members, their employment addresses, and the areas in which they practiced.    

By Scott Cameron, Executive Director of JRCLS 1989-2013, Associate Dean of J. Reuben Clark Law School 1989-2013, Chair-Elect Clark Society Advisors

Posted: January 31, 2018