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Monday, December 14, 2015

JRCLS International Women in Law Committee Hosts the Third Annual WIL Regional Conference

The JRCLS International Women in Law Committee hosted its 3rd Annual WIL Regional Conference. This fall, the Conference was held at Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law in Orange County, California. In years past, it was held in Phoenix, Arizona (2013) and Washington D.C. (2014). Next year’s Conference is planned to take place in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Participants of this year’s Conference were rewarded for their early morning rise with quality addresses from top-notch speakers.  The opening session was titled The Joyful Lawyer,” by Karen Clemes, General Counsel at Utah Valley University and JRCLS Women in Law Committee Chair. Ms. Clemes urged those in attendance to make joy a focal point of their goals and lives.

Karen Clemes, JRCLS Women in Law Committee Chair
Attendees then had a variety of break-out sessions from which to choose. Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco Firmat (Ret.), a respected negotiator, taught how peace-making skills can improve relationships at home and in the office.  Gayla Sorenson, Senior Fellow for the International Center for Law & Religion Studies and Assistant Dean of Admissions at BYU Law, delineated three ways in which religious freedom has come under attack, and provided instruction as to how attendees could protect it.  Other break-out sessions addressed gender bias; balancing part-time, full-time, and working from home; and exploring careers outside the traditional law firm practice.
Conference Co-Chair, Jenny Wilson and Gayla Sorenson, Religious Liberties Speaker
The Conference concluded with “It’s all Gift:  Stumbling Along the Path of Grace,” by Honorable Nancy Wieben Stock (Ret.) of the Orange County Superior Court. Judge Stock related her story regarding a near death experience, in which a stranger saved her life. That experience allowed for her life perspective to be centered in the fact that life is a gift and that what we are given is through grace. Through that grace, we must be of good to others.
Hon. Nancy Wieben Stock (Ret.)
Those in attendance commented that the conference was “Inspiring!” Many noted that they had “Ah-ha moments!” and that certain presentations “spoke to my soul.” 

By:  Julie Smith

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Updates from the Kansas City Chapter

Kansas City Annual Dinner
Kansas City JRCLS chapter held its annual dinner with guest speakers Brother and Sister Clayton, prior mission president and wife in our area.  They came back to present on work they had done for the church in Africa. 
Angel Zimmerman, Jeremiah Morgan, and Rebecca Morgan
Jeremiah Morgan, immediate past president for JRCLS international, received our Douglas M. Beck award for outstanding servant leadership.  This award was initiated by the Kansas City chapter, by chair Clint Patterson when the international conference was held in Kansas City two years ago.  Recipients have been Amy Hill, John Christensen, and now Jeremiah Morgan. 
Professional Clothing Drive
Kansas City JRCLS Women in Law
The Kansas City JRCLS Women in Law joined forces with the Kansas Women Attorney Association this summer to collect professional clothing to assist women with the interview process and having appropriate clothing for jobs in professional settings. Hundreds of suits, business attire, and shoes were collected. 
This fall the Kansas City JRCLS branched out to not only request women’s clothes but men’s suits as well.  Washburn Law School and UMKC Law School student chapters held a professional clothing drives and members were encouraged to bring professional clothing to the annual dinner. 
Clothing has been distributed to a variety of organizations around the state that have professional clothing banks. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Less Than Two Weeks Until the WIL Regional Conference!


The 3rd Annual JRCLS Women in Law Regional Conference is happening on Saturday, September 19, 2015! Please join us in Orange, California.

Time: 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law
1 University Drive
Orange, CA 92866


Who: All Attorneys, law students, and anyone considering law school, both male and female.

Hear from plenary speakers, Karen M. Clemes (The Joyful Lawyer) and Hon. Nancy Weiben-Stock (It’s All Gift: Stumbling Along the Path of Grace.)


Breakout Sessions include:


·         Negotiations 201: Peace-Making Skills for the Home and Law Office by Hon. Francisco F. Firmat.

·         Lawyers Unleashed: Careers Outside the Traditional Law Firm Practice with panelists: Gisselle M. Amini (Professor at Trinity Law School and Solo Practitioner), Elizabeth Shill Heiner (Leasing Manager at Core Development Services), and Allison G. Belnap (Assistant Dean of Career Services at BYU Law School.)


·         Gender Bias: Does it Still Exist and How to Overcome? Panelists include: Teresa C├ępedes Alarcon (Partner at KAEDIAN LLP), Deborah A. Gubernick (Associate at Call & Jensen), and Michele D. Johnson (Partner at Latham & Watkins.)

·         In Defense of Our First Freedom-An Overview of Current Religious Freedom Issues and What We Can Do by Gayla Sorenson (Senior Fellow for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Assistant Dean of Admissions at BYU Law School.)


·         The Balancing Act: Part-time, Full-time and Working from Home with panelists Sherri Fanger McInnes (Partner at Scott & Whitehead), Richard A. McFarlane (Owner of Law Office of Richard A. McFarlane) and Marin Bradshaw (Associate at Matsen Voorhees Mintz LLP.)

·         The Power and Influence That Comes From a Law Degree with panelists Rick Richmond (Managing Partner at Jenner & Block), Melissa Richmond (Vice President at Running Start), and Catherine Richmond (Associate at Jones Day.)


Register for the conference and find out more information here.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lawyers Unleashed: Careers Outside the Traditional Law Firm Practice

The following women will be speaking on the "Lawyers Unleashed" panel at the JRCLS WIL Regional Conference in Orange, California on September 19, 2015.
Gisselle M. Amini


Gisselle M. Amini has worked several years in the preparation of various legal documents for several distinct legal matters. These matters ranged from probate conservatorship, estate planning, corporate formation, unlawful detainers, and civil litigation. As owner and proprietor of the Law Offices of Gisselle Amini, she offers a Pro Per Servicewhich is a low cost legal document preparation option for families.


Ms. Amini obtained her J.D. in 2008 from Trinity Law School. Since that time, she has been focused on learning more of the legal process, the complexity of the court system, legal document filings, and the efficient and timely preparation of legal documents. She has also learned and experienced personally, and within the legal profession, of the importance of working within the profession with integrity toward all persons needing help with serious matters. Ms. Amini understands that these matters affect a person's life, thus needing special attention to each without compromise to meticulous detail. 


Ms. Amini obtained a B.S. in Health Care Administration from California State University Long Beach in 2003, where she also majored in Pre-Nursing. Ms. Amini strongly believes that the purpose of a law degree is not merely to "become a lawyer" and "make a living," but rather, to use the authority given in that law degree to truly advocate for the needs of those who have difficulty expressing them. Namely, what this world considers "the weak".


Ms. Amini is a fully licensed California Attorney and practices law before the courts of the State of California.  She is fluent in both Spanish and English.



Elizabeth Shill Heiner


Elizabeth Shill Heiner grew up in the Bay Area and attended BYU from 2000 to 2004. In Spring 2004 she graduated with a B.A. in International Studies. After undergrad, Elizabeth moved to Boise, ID with her two children and her then husband. In January 2010, Elizabeth started law school at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. While there, she volunteered at a domestic violence clinic and also assisted clients in drafting and filing temporary restraining orders. She has worked as a research assistant and teaching assistant for two different property law professors and also served as the JRCLS president.

In January 2012, Elizabeth and her family moved to Orange County as she transferred to Chapman University School of Law. While there, she clerked at the City Attorney’s office of Orange, Orange County District Attorney’s Environmental Law and Consumer Protection office, and at the Chapman Elder Law Clinic. In her final year at Chapman, Elizabeth was a research fellow for Dean Bogart researching property case law for use in a publication.


After graduating in May 2014, Elizabeth sat for the July 2014 bar (which she passed), and started work at her current job November 2014. Elizabeth works as a Leasing Manager at Core Development Services.  The main office is in Brea, CA but she is blessed to work from home. Elizabeth represents wireless carriers in acquiring rental space to build new wireless towers. She negotiates the terms and drafts the leases between the wireless carrier and the property owner. Elizabeth has worked on projects for multiple different carriers negotiating both new agreements and amendments.


Elizabeth married her husband in March 2015 and now resides in Pasadena, California.


Allison G. Belnap


Allison G. Belnap holds a B.A. in Acting and a Master's Degree in Theatre for Young Audiences. She also graduated with a J.D. from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University.


​Before graduating from law school, Allison taught acting and dramaturgy in BYU's Department of Theatre and Media Arts for over 10 years. She designed and implemented educational theatre and training programs for the Provo Theatre Company's Youth Theatre Academy, and the Shakespeare Fellowship, where she served as the Education Director. She performed in numerous professional and amateur stage productions as well as various commercials and some film work. ​Allison also directed plays focusing primarily on pieces written for young audiences such as Sarah, Plain and Tall, and The Jungle Book.


After graduating from BYU Law, Allison worked briefly as an attorney for Fillmore Spencer in Provo, then as an oil and gas attorney for Holland & Hart in their Salt Lake City office. Her practice focused on transactional work in North Dakota, Utah, and Colorado. In 2014, Allison became an Assistant Dean at BYU Law. She and her husband, Dean, are the parents of five daughters.

Monday, August 24, 2015

7th Annual WIL Prelaw Event at BYU

Join the JRCLS Women in Law Committee on Wednesday, September 30th for "Women's Perspectives in the Law: Is Law School Right for Me?" The event will be held at BYU Law School and will feature Justice Christine Durham of the Utah Supreme Court as the keynote speaker.  See the flyer below for more information, and please tell your friends!  (Particularly undergraduate women with an interest in law school!)

Orange County WIL Conference: The Power and Influence that Comes from a Law Degree

The 3rd Annual JRCLS WIL Regional Conference is scheduled for September 19, 2015 in Orange, California. Addressing the topic of “The Power and Influence That Comes From a Law Degree” are panelists, Rick Richmond, Melissa Richmond and Catharine Richmond.


Those that wish to attend can find more information at http://jrclswilconference.yolasite.com/


We hope to see you there. #jrclswilca2015


Rick Richmond


Rick Richmond manages the Los Angeles office of the international law firm Jenner & Block. He founded the office in 2009 with one younger attorney. The office is now home to 40 attorneys who litigate cases and handle corporate transactions at the highest levels of quality and sophistication. Jenner & Block has been selected multiple times as one of the 20 elite national firms on the American Lawyer’s “A-List” and has been recognized as the #1 law firm nationwide by the American Lawyer for pro bono efforts in five of the last eight years. Rick represents clients in commercial litigation matters ranging from contracts, class actions, and fraud to intellectual property, employment, and construction defects. He has tried two dozen cases in state and federal courts and in arbitrations and argued nearly 20 appeals.


Prior to Jenner & Block, Rick was an associate and partner at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis for 20 years. He also served for two years on the Appellate Staff of the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and was a law clerk to Judge Harlington Wood Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Rick is an honors graduate of the law school at George Washington University and a cum laude graduate of Brigham Young University.


Rick has served as: Chair, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation; Chair, J. Reuben Clark Law Society (Los Angeles chapter); Chair, Los Angeles Eagle Scout Association; President, George Washington Law Alumni Association; Secretary, California Club; Director, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce; Director, Los Angeles Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America; Advisory Committee Member, Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence; Mormon Studies Council, The Claremont Graduate University; Advisory Board Member, George Washington University Law School; and Advisory Committee Member, The Federalist Society (Los Angeles chapter).


Rick has been married to the former Linda Ann DeGraw for 33 years. They are the parents of Melissa and Catharine, who join Rick on this panel, and a teenage son, David.


Melissa Richmond


Melissa Richmond is the Vice President of Running Start. Running Start is a Washington, DC based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that trains young women to run for political office. In her role as Vice President, Melissa co-leads the organization and oversees Running Start’s five programs that train more than 2,000 young women from around the country to run for office each year. In addition, Melissa regularly speaks to outside groups about the importance of getting more women into elected office.


Prior to joining Running Start, Melissa worked for Governor Mitt Romney over the course of ten years, starting in high school. Melissa worked for Governor Romney in the Massachusetts State House and at both of the PACs of which he was the Honorary Chair, the Commonwealth PAC and the Free & Strong America PAC. Melissa also fundraised for the Super PAC, Restore Our Future, which was formed to support Governor Romney’s second presidential run. Melissa served on both of the Romney for President campaigns, as Assistant to the National Finance Director at Romney for President 2008 and as Deputy Director of Internal Operations and Director of Donor Relations at Romney for President 2012.


Melissa is involved in the BYU Management Society, her local church congregation, Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of Founders & Patriots of America, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, her Home Owners Association Board, and the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and hopes to serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in the fall. Melissa recently authored two articles with her sister, Catharine, which appeared in The Student Appeal on “Why Female Law School Students Should Consider Running for Office” and in the Cardozo Journal of Law & Gender on “The Future of Sex Offense Courts.”


Melissa graduated from the Brigham Young University with a degree in political science, the George Washington University Law School, and the Women’s Campaign School at Yale.   She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her rescued dog, Lady, where she hopes to run for office in the not-too-distant future.


Catharine Richmond


Catharine Richmond practiced at Jones Day, an international law firm, for a year after law school. While at Jones Day, in addition to her litigation practice, Catharine was active in pro bono work. She helped secure asylum for two persecuted clients from Mexico and maintained, through filings and court appearances, a TRO for an abused 90-year-old Holocaust survivor. This summer, she was asked to clerk for the California Court of Appeal by a senior partner after he was reappointed to the bench.  She is currently clerking.


At the University of Virginia School of Law, Catharine served as the Executive Editor of the Virginia Journal of Criminal Law, the Notes Development Editor of the Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, and the Director of Mentoring for UVA’s JRCLS chapter. During law school, she spent a summer working for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in the Major Crimes Division assisting in prosecuting homicides and serial murders. 


Catharine graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University, majoring in philosophy and anthropology. During college, Catharine spent a summer interning for the Learning Rights Law Center, an organization that litigates and advocates pro bono for economically disadvantaged special needs students.  The following summer, she taught in sign language at a Deaf high school in Mampong, Ghana. In her senior year, Catharine was selected to present her senior ethnographic field research, about Deaf education in Los Angeles, at the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies.


Catharine has been published several times, including with the ABA, the Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender, the Student Appeal, and the Brigham Young Pre-Law Review. Catharine remains active in the community, serving as the Women in Law Committee Chair for the Los Angeles JRCLS chapter and as a member of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, and the Federalist Society. 


Catharine loves living in downtown Los Angeles, hiking with her family’s beagle, Duke, and baking for family and friends.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Orange County WIL Conference: Plenary Speakers, Negotiations Seminar, and Religious Freedom Seminar

The 3rd Annual JRCLS WIL Regional Conference is excited to share information on its speakers.  Its two plenary speakers include, Karen M. Clemes and Hon. Nancy Wieben Stock. Ms. Clemes will open the conference and address the topic of “The Joyful Lawyer.” Hon. Nancy Wieben Stock will close the conference and has titled her remarks, “It’s All Gift: Stumbling Along the Path of Grace.”


Also joining the conference in separate break-out sessions are Hon. Francisco Firmat speaking on “Negotiations 201: Peace-Making Skills for Home and Law Office” and Gayla Sorenson addressing “In Defense of Our First Freedom – An Overview of Current Religious Freedom Issues and What We Can Do.”


Those that wish to attend can find more information at http://jrclswilconference.yolasite.com/


We hope to see you there. #jrclswilca2015


Karen M. Clemes


On April 1, 2015, Karen M. Clemes was appointed as Utah Valley University’s first-ever General Counsel, bringing a broad range of in-house and large law firm experience to UVU, with an emphasis in employment law, compliance, and litigation. As a member of UVU President’s Council, she provides legal and strategic counsel to the University on the full gamut of legal issues facing a large public university.

Previous to UVU, Ms. Clemes served as Associate General Counsel for Ancestry.com. She has also been Of Counsel with Ballard Spahr LLP, a national law firm, and was Director of the HR Legal Division and Chief Standards (Ethics) Officer for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For nearly a decade she was an associate and then partner at the California law firm Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP, where she litigated employment and business cases and provided employment law counsel to a variety of clients. Before joining Luce Forward, she clerked for Judge David R. Thompson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Ms. Clemes is also an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, where she teaches Employment Law.  She earned her J.D. at California Western School of Law, where she graduated summa cum laude as first in her class. She completed her M.A. in humanities and B.A. in comparative literature at BYU. 

Ms. Clemes is currently the International Chair of the Women in the Law Committee for the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. In 2011 she received the Association of Corporate Counsel Mountain West Chapter's “Outstanding New Corporate Counsel” Award. 



Hon. Nancy Wieben Stock


Judge Nancy Wieben Stock (Ret.) was appointed to the Orange County Superior Court by Governor George Deukmejian on January 23, 1990. For 24 years she served in family, civil, and felony trial departments. She ultimately served as Presiding Judge of the Court, where she formed the first-ever Superior Family Violence Coordination Committee, tying together a coordinated effort in criminal, juvenile and family court matters. During this period she also achieved full funding for the replication of a model dedicated domestic violence criminal court in each of the courthouses in Orange County and paved the way for a unique video appearance link between the Anaheim Family Justice Center and the Superior Court’s dedicated Domestic Violence Court in family law, affording victims the opportunity to remain in an offsite supportive environment during the restraining order process. She served as Chair of the Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee, comprising all 58 presiding judges in California and was a member of the California Judicial Council and the State-Federal Judicial Council.


Judge Stock is a former federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office, Central District of California.  She served as Chief of Major Crimes and First Assistant to the Chief of the Criminal Division for the second largest office in the nation. During her 12-year tenure, Judge Stock handled several interstate stranger-abduction kidnapping cases.  She has presented at and been recognized by the National Center for Missing & Abused Children.


Judge Stock was a member of the inaugural board of directors for the Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL) Orange County Chapter. In 1997, she was subsequently recognized with an award for “Judicial Integrity” by the statewide 4000-member Consumer Attorneys of California and was awarded the inaugural “Jerrold Oliver award for “Judicial Integrity, Compassion & Courage.” She was the 1997 Judge of the Year for the American Board of Trial Advocates and has been recognized by the American College of Trial Lawyers for Excellence in Advocacy. In 2003 Judge Stock was awarded “Distinguished Jurist Award” by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Southern California Chapter. In 2009 she was given the Franklin G. West award for distinguished lifetime achievement by the Orange County Bar Association.


Judge Stock graduated with a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis in 1973 and followed with a law degree from the same institution. Judge Stock has been a lawyer or a judge for the past 39 years. She serves as a full-time mediator and arbitrator with JAMS. Mother of two adult children and the wife of a retired attorney, Judge Stock’s life and career revolve around family and community issues. She serves on the Secretariat of the Los Angeles Episcopal Cursillo, and is past First Vice President of the Board, Y.W.C.A. North Orange County. An avid dog-walker, she loves to read biographies because everyone needs a little encouragement now and then. 



Hon. Francisco F. Firmat


Born in Cuba, Judge Francisco F. Firmat (Ret.) immigrated to the United States as a temporary orphan with no knowledge of English when his father—a jurist himself—realized that there was no hope for their family under the communist regime. Judge Firmat began his legal career in 1976 as a sole practitioner in Fullerton, California, following his graduation from Western State University School of Law. He was appointed to the North Orange County Municipal Court in 1985 and elevated to the Superior Court in 1990, where he has served on both the Civil and Family Law Panels. After entering into a full-time Family Law assignment, Judge Firmat quickly rose to become the Supervising Judge of the Family Law Panel, in which capacity he used his position to foster significant institutional change to improve access to justice for litigants who are at risk of being marginalized by the justice system. Judge Firmat is a speaker at churches and retreats and teaches workshops on contemplative prayer.  He also facilitates the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, a nine-month small group journey in prayer.


His accolades are numerous, including the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers’ Distinguished Jurist Award (2009); the Judicial Council of California’s Aranda Access to Justice Award (2008), which is awarded to a judge who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to improving access to the courts and who has significantly improved access for low- and moderate-income Californians; the Orange County Women Lawyers Association’s Judge of the Year Award (2007); the OCBA Family Law Section’s J.E.T. Rutter Judge of the Year Award (2005); the OCBA Harmon G. Scoville Award (1992), which honors a member of the Orange County legal community whose career exemplifies the highest standards of the profession and who has contributed to the Bar while championing our constitutional system of justice; among others; and the Franklin G. West Award (2013), which is the highest honor awarded by the Orange County Bar Association.


Although Judge Firmat retired from full-time public service in 2013, he leaves behind an extensive legacy of improvements to the bench and bar, including an interpreter intern program to assist family law litigants through a collaboration with California State University, Los Angeles; a non-litigation track that enabled OCBA Family Law attorneys and the Court to reduce rejected judgments by 26 percent in a single year; a self-help forum involving quarterly meetings between the Public Law Center, the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, local law school clinics, and others to share information and strategies to improve access to self-help for litigants; town hall meetings designed to allow stakeholders to discuss changes in the legal system in a non-intimidating environment; mediation training at the Strauss Institute for Family Law judicial officers; expedited judgments in family law cases to benefit both children and the families’ financial welfare; and more. Judge Firmat’s innovative programs have made a difference and will undoubtedly leave a lasting legacy in the Orange County community.  Judge Firmat’s personal background and experiences have informed his values and produced a courageous, compassionate, and extraordinary lawyer and judge.



Gayla Sorenson


Gayla Moss Sorenson (BYU J.D. '85) recently returned to BYU Law School as Dean of Admissions to enjoy another phase in an exciting career that has spanned a variety of law firm and in-house experiences. She spent four years with Lewis & Roca in Phoenix and then twenty years with Motorola—first as a litigator, followed by extensive experience as a commercial attorney supporting global transactions, and ending her time there as a Vice President and senior legal advisor. Just prior to assuming her role at BYU Law, she was the Director of Global Compliance Operations for Biomet, Inc., a global medical device company based in Warsaw, Indiana. She has been actively involved in the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, including having served on the Events Committee and as Chair of the Finance Committee. 


Ms. Sorenson has served as a Senior Fellow for the International Center for Law and Religion Studies, where she played a key role in launching a volunteer network of individuals who researched religion and law frameworks on a global basis, helped develop content for one of the Center's websites and worked with contributors to the treatise Religious Organizations and the Law. Ms. Sorenson has spoken on religious freedom in a variety of setting and is passionate about the need for all concerned citizens, and particularly those with legal training, to be aware and involved in protecting this critical right. Ms. Sorenson is a member of the Arizona and Indiana bars.