Full Time Practice

Monday, March 5, 2012

Intrepid WIL Panel at Stanford Tackles Conscience vs. Law

What to do when the law requires an attorney to act contrary to her conscience? Although historically more of a dilemma in developing countries, laws in the areas of religion, abortion, immigration, employment, education, and other fields increasingly intersect with deeply held beliefs.

The Women in the Law-sponsored panel at the JRCLS annual conference at Stanford Law School in February addressed these issues head-on. Professor Ryan Rowberry, Assistant Professor of Law at Georgia State University and recently a U.S. Supreme Court Fellow, described courageous lawyers and judges in three African countries who placed principle above legal and political pressure and bore the consequences of that choice. Cynthia Lange, partner in the San Francisco firm of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, posed the dilemma in the context of the LDS Church's recent statement on immigration, which encourages a lenient interpretation of the law. The room was full and the audience engaged. The question-and-answer session afterwards was particularly lively.

Both panelists were outstanding and gave freely and cheerfully from their hectic schedules. For me, at least, the discussion sparked a re-evaluation of assumptions and a new look at the place of the Savior in our profession.

Eileen Doyle Crane, Pre-law Advisor at Utah Valley University and member of the WIL Committee, was an articulate moderator and tone modulator. I especially appreciated her closing remarks on the fusion of faith and law.

--Elizabeth Shaw Smith, JRCLS WIL Chair

The Q&A session following
was sometimes intense.

Panelists Ryan Rowberry and Cynthia Lange


  1. The panel sounds amazing. So sad to have missed it!

  2. We missed YOU, Kate! Thanks for sparking this panel idea.

  3. Sounds really thought provoking and stimulating! I also wish I could have been there. Was it by any chance videotaped or available to listen to or watch afterward?