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 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.