2024 Annual Conference: Go and Do Likewise

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society’s 2024 Annual Conference inspired attendees to "Go and Do Likewise."  Held in Las Vegas, Nevada, March 21 - 23, 2024, speakers included Judge Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit, and Judge Denise Lindberg, Senior District Judge, State of Utah; Judge Thomas B. Griffith, formerly of District of Columbia Court of Appeals; and Kevin J. Worthen, former BYU president. Each speaker addressed how lawyers can change the world by emulating the good Samaritan and “go and do likewise”.


Speaking during the Friday morning plenary session, Judge Griffith explained that lawyers are in a unique position to build bridges in this time of political and social division.  He observed that loving your neighbor and reaching out to others that might think differently has never been more important.  He also warned that our democracy is being threatened by these divisions and urged Law Society members to be instruments to help rebuild trust.  Judge Griffith additionally encouraged JRCLS members to build trust in our respective legal and democratic systems.  In the U.S., members of the Law Society should build trust in their electoral process, in the U.S. Supreme court and other democratic institutions.  He cited Dallin H. Oaks when he encouraged people to seek to moderate and to unify on contested issues.  Judge Griffith reminded attendees that President Russell M. Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught that peacemakers are needed. JRCLS members should remember that “our passion for justice is evidence of a moral order.”


During his Saturday morning plenary presentation, President Worthen rallied JRCLS members to help resolve differences and love our fellowmen.   America has an anger problem, he said, and anger never resolves issues.  Quoting President Russell M. Nelson, President Worthen said: “Anger never persuades. Hostility builds no one. Contention never leads to inspired solutions.”  “Contention drives away the Spirit—every time. Contention reinforces the false notion that confrontation is the way to resolve differences; but it never is. Contention is a choice. Peacemaking is a choice.” President Worthen encouraged Law Society members to choose to be peacemakers, assume good faith on the part of others, and strive to bridge differences.  He indicated the world will feel the impact of our efforts.


Judge Bybee, one of two keynote speakers on Thursday evening, discussed the historical context of the parable of the Good Samaritan.  He explained that while in our day we have primarily a rights-based system of law, in the Savior’s time, Jewish legal scholars viewed the law as a duty-based system.  Individuals were concerned with knowing their obligations to God and to their fellow man.  Thus the lawyer who questioned Jesus wanted to find the limits to his compassion and obligations.  Judge Bybee pointed out that in contrast, Jesus taught that everyone is our neighbor and we should be compassionate to all.  Jesus’ message was that there are no limits to this obligation to show compassion.  Judge Bybee encouraged attendees to take Jesus’ counsel, follow the example of the Good Samaritan, and go and do likewise.


Judge Lindberg also gave a keynote address on Thursday night, instructing lawyers that the skills we develop through our legal education and practice provide us the opportunity, and the responsibility, to strengthen society and make this a better world. She noted that lawyers build strengths in skills such as analytical reasoning, critical thinking, persuasive advocacy, and priority-setting, as well as listening carefully and communicating clearly.  Judge Lindberg left members of the Law Society with this challenge:  “As people of faith, let us serve our neighbors with love, mercy, and compassion. As lawyers, let us use our skills to smooth out difficulties, relieve stress, correct mistakes, and lift other people’s burdens [and] that by doing so, we will make possible a peaceful life in a peaceful state. Let us answer this challenge in our hearts and our daily conduct, committed “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with [our] God.”


As members of the JRCLS worldwide, we profess an unwavering dedication to our mission. We firmly believe in the unique strength that a lawyer's personal religious conviction brings to the field of law. We hold that personal faith is a cornerstone in the pursuit of justice. This conviction is what unites us from all corners of the globe in our community. Let us 'Go and Do Likewise' in both our legal profession and in the community.


To view the 2024 Annual Conference printed program, review the schedule and sessions topic summary, and view recordings of several plenary sessions, click here: Annual Conference Resources