Full Time Practice

Monday, July 15, 2019

Utah Women of the 19th Amendment Series Part 1: Martha Hughes Cannon

As early as the 1770s, women are fighting for the right to vote in the United States. By 1777, the issue is put to a vote in New York, and it is defeated as are state bills in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the 1780s. In New Jersey women are briefly given the right to vote until 1807 when it is revoked. In 1838, Kentucky passes a law that allows women to vote, but only if they are heads of households and live in rural areas. Even then, they are restricted to certain types of elections. After struggling with this national enfranchisement issue for nearly 80 years, in 1848, women form the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, setting off several years of more conventions. The work is brought to a halt by the Civil War but resumes with new focus in 1866 with the creation of the American Equal Rights Association, working for suffrage for both women and African Americans.

On December 10, 1869, the Wyoming Territory extends voting rights to women. But, the next year, Congress passes the 15th amendment granting voting rights to all men regardless of color, and leaves the issue of gender up to the states. Some women’s rights advocates such as Susan B. Anthony are outraged. She states, “It was we, the people, not we, the white male citizens...who formed the Union.

In 1870, Utah becomes the next territory to grant voting rights to women but this right is taken away in 1887 as an attempt by the federal government to eradicate the practice of polygamy.

Into this political environment comes Martha Hughes Cannon. She is an extraordinary woman for her day. Born in Wales in 1857, her parents join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immigrate to the Utah Territory with her as a 4 year-old child. At age 16 she enrolls in the University of Deseret (now the University of Utah) receiving a BS in Chemistry, followed by an MD from the University of Michigan. Martha goes on to the University of Pennsylvania for her post-graduate studies where she is the only woman out of 75 students. After returning to Utah, and while working as a resident at Deseret Hospital, she meets the hospital superintendent, Angus Cannon, and agrees to become his fourth wife at age 25. Polygamy has been outlawed by the federal government by this time, so they choose to keep their marriage secret. For such an independent woman to agree to this marriage, one who had broken many female barriers, seems counter to her character. However, she believes that the arrangement gives her a lot of freedom, only having to spend time with her husband one week out of every month. A proponent of women’s rights, she states, “Somehow I know that women who stay home all the time have the most unpleasant homes there are. You give me a woman who thinks about something besides cook stoves and wash tubs and baby flannels and I'll show you, nine times out of ten, a successful mother."

After her husband is arrested on polygamy charges, Martha travels abroad with her baby daughter. In 1888 after she is no longer in danger of being arrested herself, she returns to Utah and works as a doctor, establishes Utah’s first nursing school, and fights for women's rights. Through these efforts, she becomes a prominent figure and is asked to speak at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago on the subject of women’s suffrage in Utah. The Chicago Record calls her "one of the brightest exponents of women's causes in the US."

In 1896 she is convinced to run for the State Senate and wins, becoming the Nation's first
woman state senator. 
The Utah Senate in 1897. Martha is the woman on the left.
Over the course of her two-terms she introduces legislation to provide education

for disabled children, protect the health of women and young girl employees, improve Utah’s sanitation laws, and finally, she founds the State Board of Health. However, possibly Martha’s most important contribution is helping put women enfranchisement into Utah's constitution when it is granted statehood in 1896. Even after this victory for Utah women, Martha, along with other Utah suffragettes, continues the fight, which eventually results in the passage of the 19th Amendment. 

(Researched and written by Kathryn Latour, member of the JRCLS WIL and Media Committees)

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Spotlight on Julie Stevenson

It is not every day your boss hands you a $10,000 check to give to a good cause. But, at Exelon, a Fortune 100 company and the biggest power company in the nation, that is exactly what JRCLS member Julie Stevenson experienced. With revenues of $33.5 billion in 2017, Exelon could certinaly afford to be generous, but Stevenson was not prepared for how generous Exelon would be.

Exelon regularly encourages its employees to provide service, and it allows those who devote more than 40 hours of service in a given a year to apply for special recognition that could also result in additional funds to their chosen charity. Stevenson, one of a handful of in-house attorneys in the Nuclear Group at Exelon, appreciated the company’s commitment to give back to the community. Although she had regularly assisted at the World Relief for Citizenship clinic and the National Immigration Justice Council’s asylum and refugee clinics located across the street from the Company’s Chicago office, last year was her first opportunity to dedicate 40 hours to one organization. After more than 10 years of volunteering at these local groups, immigration was in her blood.

When Stevenson attended her BYU Law School reunion last yea and learned about JRCLS Women in Law’s upcoming Dilley project, it struck a chord. She spontaneously petitioned Exelon for the time off to work for a week at the South Texas Family Residential Center to help women seeking asylum. Exelon not only allowed her the time, but it paid for her trip and gave her a $500 check to help fund the American Immigration Council (AIC), the financial arm of the Dilley Project organizers. She and Nancy Van Slooten, another JRCLS alum, both helped with Spanish translation.

At Dilley, Stevenson saw first-hand the effects that the government’s separation and detention policies had on women and their children. To experience all they had been through in their native lands and then have their children taken away at the border or be locked away in a jail-like detention center together was heart-wrenching. Stevenson was able to explain asylum law to some detainees and assist them in their first legal steps. She said, “If I could just help one woman and her children, that’s my goal.” Helping women pass their first credible fear interview is only the first step in the asylum process. Unsatisfied that the system did not allow her to help them as much as she had wanted, she said, “At least these women know someone cared.”

Motivated by this life-changing trip, she applied for the Powering Communities Exelon Award Program, which is available for those who have exceeded 40 community hours in a given year. She was one of hundreds of applicants, and one of 24 winners of the award, presented by CEO Christopher Crane at four separate luncheons in their honor across the Exelon companies. She is grateful that the $10,000 will give AIC the opportunity to help more refugees at Dilley.

Julie Stevenson speaking at awards luncheon
L-R: Two AIS board members who received the $10K check; Exelon CEO Chris Crane; Julie; Julie's husband Scott

Her final thoughts? “These were just mothers who were trying to keep their families safe. We are more the same than we are different. I felt a real connection to them, and I continue to feel the pull to try to help with asylum work in whatever small way I am able. I plan to do this full time when I retire.”

(Written by Kathryn Latour, member of WIL and Media Committees)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

2019 JRCLS Annual Conference

The 2019 J. Reuben Clark Law Society Annual Conference was held February 14-16 in Seattle, Washington at the beautiful Bell Harbor Conference Center. 

On Thursday afternoon JRCLS leaders participated in a well-attended Chapter Relations Council Meeting. 

On Friday, the Women in Law Committee (WIL) held its annual breakfast meeting with over 50 women, and a few great men☺, in attendance. The theme for this year’s Annual Conference was “Anxiously Engaged in Good Causes.” Susannah Thomas, the current WIL Chair, shared her thoughts about this theme and then asked each person at the breakfast to introduce themselves and share how he or she had tried to implement this mindset in her life. 
One sister said that she had paid the bar fees for a colleague who was struggling financially. She said this was not a huge hardship for herself but made all the difference to this colleague who was then enabled to begin helping others. Another woman stated that the word “anxious” should not be interpreted as feeling anxious over what we did or failed to do, but that we should strive to be positively seeking for opportunities to better others’ live.  A sister told of just returning from her mission in Russia where conversion efforts are not allowed. She said that those serving in Russia are considered volunteers who do not proselytize but perform community service and support Church members already there; she was anxiously engaged in those efforts. Another woman spoke of putting her legal career on hold so that she could focus her efforts on raising her children to be steadfast members of the Church. Currently, none of her adult children are active nor does she have a career. She questioned how it was possible for women to be anxiously engaged in both raising a family and maintaining a career in the law and ventured the guess that the majority of women who did not attend JRCLS events felt burdened with the same dilemma. One brother spoke of his efforts as chapter chair to encourage non-practicing women attorneys to become a part of JRCLS stating that these women have experiences and insights that are valuable to JRCLS. Susannah Thomas pledged her efforts to draw more non-practicing women to join JRCLS. 
After the breakfast we immediately began the morning plenary session that was sponsored by WIL. The first order of business was awarding the coveted Women in Law Service Award to Eileen Crane.

Angel Zimmerman (WIL Immediate Past Chair), Eileen Crane, Susannah Thomas (WIL Chair)

Following the award ceremony we heard from Debra Norwood, a Certified Laughter Lead and Expert Level Practitioner with the World Laughter Tour. 

Debra Norwood

Debra spoke about her work encouraging victims of crime to have hope.  During her presentation she encouraged all JRCLS participants to learn simple physical movements designed to infuse attorneys and clients alike with positive energy. She also introduced the theory that our brains sometimes lie to us, telling us that we cannot achieve what we desire to. She encouraged us to ignore those lies and forge ahead doing good.  A final activity that Debra asked us to participate in  was to wear red noses with courage and with laughter. 

Everyone got into the spirit of red noses!

The WIL Plenary session was a resounding success, and we are so grateful to Debra Norwood for sharing her time and talents with us as well as Eileen Crane for the amazing service she gives worldwide. 

We are also extremely grateful to the Conference planning committee for another amazing Annual Conference. We encourage everyone to attend the 2020 Annual Conference February 27-29 in Phoenix, Arizona!

(Written by Kathryn Latour, member of WIL and Media Committees)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Women in Law Dilley Pro Bono Project - November 2018

Report from Jennifer Wilson, member of the JRCLS WIL Committee:

Should we build the Wall?

This question is, as we all know, a subject of heated debate at the moment. Most people have an opinion and are generally convinced that their viewpoint is the correct one. Although I do have an opinion on the subject, my strongest feelings regarding the status of immigrants stem from my week at a detention center for women and children in Dilley, Texas, which provided inspiration as to my own role in the ongoing immigration struggle.

The Women in Law Committee of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society sponsored a trip down to the South Texas Family Residential Center in November of 2018. Fifteen lawyers and translators made the journey to assist those inmates of the detention center who were awaiting credible fear interviews and/or relocation in their quest for asylum in the U.S.

Lawyers and translators who provided service at Dilley in November 2018
(author of this post on top row, 2nd from left)

The detainees are women and their children who have made their way from other countries, and who are claiming that they should be granted asylum in the U.S. because they or their children will suffer great harm if they return to their own country.

Most of what the legal volunteers do is to prepare the women to present their stories at their credible fear interview to demonstrate to the interviewer that they have a legitimate reason to request asylum. These women all have a story of fear, but most don’t know how to present their story in any cohesive way, and certainly not in a way to demonstrate that their situation falls within the very specific guidelines which would allow them to seek asylum.

We met with women from countries with the highest murder rates in the world, where domestic and gang violence is pervasive, and where their governments are unwilling or unable to protect their citizens. I met with women who had been beaten and nearly killed by their male partners, who had been controlled and forced into slavery by threats of harm or death to themselves or their children, and who had been regularly raped and prostituted. Many women have been targeted and terrorized by the gangs which effectually run the country.

These situations are fairly typical for the detainees in Dilley, and listening to them day after day convinced me that whatever measures are needed to overhaul our current immigration system, we must keep in mind that many asylum seekers are doing so because of lives which have been unimaginable in their horrors, and that asylum can usher in a new life of hope and purpose, breaking the cycle of violence, poverty and fear. We must have a robust system for controlling immigration, and part of the equation must include generosity and compassion as we open our doors to those who are escaping a hellish existence.

We who attended the outing to Dilley learned that each larger political issue boils down (as always) to individuals--people who have suffered much, who have limited means to protect themselves and their children, and who long for a better life. These people, I believe, deserve to have their stories heard. We were in Dilley to uphold an asylum seeker’s legal rights, as I told one man in Texas who asked if we were in Dilley just to let all the illegals into the country. And ‘legal’ can and should mean a fair and compassionate system for assessing asylum claims, and appointing legal counsel for those who will most likely not be able to navigate the system, as well as ensuring that asylum proceedings are administered in a timely manner.

I was glad to have been part, even if just for a few days, of a project which allowed me to use my training to begin the road to a new life for asylum seekers who have arrived here to escape great suffering in their countries of origin, and who are hoping for a new country of refuge and healing.

Monday, November 26, 2018

New Oral History Collection at Stanford Law School (100 pioneering women lawyers)

We were excited to recently learn of a new oral history collection profiling nearly 100 pioneering women lawyers available at https://abawtp.law.stanford.edu/ or you may browse for alumni by alma mater here  We hope you will all take some time to browse through these amazing histories.  And please spread the word!  Here is the press release issued from Stanford Law School:

Stanford Law School Launches the American Bar Association’s Women Trailblazers in the Law Website

Stanford Law School’s Robert Crown Law Library has launched a new site for the American Bar Association’s (ABA) oral history project entitled “Women Trailblazers in the Law” (WTP). The website offers open access to the oral histories of close to 100 senior women who have made important contributions to the law and have opened opportunities for other women in the profession.

In the last half-century or more, women in law have made huge strides, many of them making history by attending law school, sometimes as the only female in their class, and succeeding in the profession against the odds. Brooksley Born, JD ’64 (BA ’61), and Linda Ferren, WTP Director and Executive Director of the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit, set out to capture the stories of these remarkable women when they initiated the Women Trailblazers in the Law Project, a collaborative research project of the ABA and the American Bar Foundation, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research institute for the study of law."

“By opening opportunities for women in the legal profession and in many cases using their skills to further women’s legal rights, these women made significant contributions to the equality of all women that must not be forgotten,” said Born, chair of the ABA Senior Lawyers Division WTP Committee, whose own story is included in the collection. Born was the first woman president of the Stanford Law Review and went on to have a successful legal career including serving as chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1996 to 1999.

According to Linda Ferren, “Our goal from the start was to turn a spotlight on women who, because of their gender, had to struggle to secure a foothold in the legal community just a few decades ago.”

“We are thrilled to partner with the ABA to capture the oral histories of women pioneers in the legal profession,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean. “It is truly an honor for Stanford Law to preserve this priceless collection and provide access to these rich and inspiring stories of women, in their own voices, who overcame barriers in a male-dominated profession and advanced the interests of all women.”

WTP captures the full-life oral histories of women pioneers in the legal profession nationwide, memorializing their stories in their own voices and preserving their experiences and observations for future generationsIn addition to Born, other Stanford Law alumni in WTP include Judge LaDoris Cordell, JD ’74, Mary Cranston, JD ’75 (BA ’70), Judge Shirley Hufstedler, JD ’49, Judge Fern Smith, JD ’75 (BA ’72), and Judge Miriam Wolff, JD ’40 (BA ’37). A book based on the collection, Lives in the Law: Stories from Trailblazing Women Lawyers, by Jill Norgren, was published last May by New York University Press.

The WTP collection is now housed at the Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford; two other WTP repositories are the Library of Congress and the Schlesinger Library at Harvard. The new WTP website allows easy online access to the collection and resources and will focus on long-term preservation of print and digitized WTP content. In addition, the oral histories have been added to the Stanford Digital Repository.

“The goal of the Stanford Law Library with this project has been to enhance public access to and discoverability of these important oral histories, not just for the benefit of law students and legal scholars, but also for anyone interested in the rich history of these trailblazing women,” said Beth Williams, senior director of the Robert Crown Law Library.

Click here for access to the WTP website: https://abawtp.law.stanford.edu. Learn more about BornHufstedlerand Wolff from their profiles in Stanford Lawyer.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education.  Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business and high technology.  Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.

About the Robert Crown Law Library

The Robert Crown Law Library at Stanford Law School is a friendly, comfortable, and well-equipped legal research library that supports the curriculum, programs and clinics of the law school.

The law library has a print collection of over 500,000 books along with millions of pages of online documents.  The Robert Crown Law Library welcomes Stanford students, faculty, and staff to delve into its rich collection and turn to the Library’s service-oriented staff for help with their research needs.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

JRCLS Leadership Conference 2018

The 2018 JRCLS Leadership Conference was held on October 4 and 5 on BYU Campus and at Aspen Grove. During the dinner on Thursday evening, Angel Zimmerman received a plaque and an enthusiastic ovation in recognition of her work as Chair of the International WIL Committee for the past 2 years, and Susannah Thomas officially became the new Chair of the WIL Committee. 

Susannah Thomas and Angel Zimmerman

On Friday we held our traditional WIL Breakfast where we met with old friends and made new ones. During the breakfast, each attendee introduced themselves and shared an experience when they were anxiously engaged in a good cause. We were especially grateful to our international friends for joining us and for those at our breakfast who were able to translate for them. We have some of the world’s most outstanding women participating in JRCLS. 

During the Leadership Conference we applauded the leaders of outstanding chapters, including Angel Zimmerman on behalf of Kansas City and Jenny Wilson on behalf Orange County. Both Angel and Jenny are members of the WIL Committee. 

We were also privileged and grateful to meet members of the NAACP leadership. 

Angel Zimmerman (center)

We hope everyone will be able to join us for the  2019 JRCLS Annual Conference in Seattle on February 14-16, 2019.  See HERE for more details.

Monday, October 8, 2018

JRCLS WIL Pre-law Conference 2018

On Wednesday, October 3, 2018, the JRCLS Women in Law sponsored its annual Women in Law Pre-law Conference and Networking Event.  We had nearly 140 attendees, which may be a new record!  

We began the evening with a well-attended law school tour.

Following the tour we had a keynote panel with Stephenie Larsen (BYU Law grad; CEO and Founder of Encircle Together); Angel Zimmerman (Washburn Law grad; outgoing WIL Committee Chair; owner of her own law practice); and Lindsay Combs (2L at BYU Law). The panel was moderated by Susannah Thomas (BYU Law Grad; Federal attorney; new Chair of WIL Committee). The panel discussed a variety of issues such as why law school; work-life balance; the intersection of lawyering and parenting; gender bias; and law and religion.

Stephenie Larsen 
Angel Zimmerman
Lindsay Combs

After the panel discussion, we had a Practice Area Networking activity and reception, where students met with female attorneys from different areas of law practice to learn about their experiences.

We are grateful to all of our panelists and other attorneys who took time from their schedules to join us. We also give many thanks to the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Gayla Sorensen, Rachel Stock, and many others who helped to make this possible.