Numerous attorneys, students, and friends of the Law Society gathered at the LDS Conference Center on January 20, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah for the J. Reuben Clark Law Society Annual Fireside. Among those in attendance were retired Senator Harry Reid, who received the Law Society’s Distinguished Service Award, and his wife, Mrs. Landra Reid. Sister Ruth Lybbert Renlund and her husband, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also were in attendance. Sister Renlund received the Law Society’s Exemplary Leadership Award and presented the keynote address. Mary Hoagland, Former Executive Director to the Law Society, also received a plaque in honor of her fifteen years of service to the Law Society.
Sister Renlund practiced law in Salt Lake City for over twenty years and is the former president of the law firm Dewsnup, King, and Olsen. She has served on the board of directors for Deseret News and Workers Compensation Fund of Utah, as chair of the Judicial Conduct Commission for the State of Utah, and was the first female president of the Utah Trial Lawyers Association. Sister Renlund was raised in the Salt Lake area and became interested in law at a young age by observing the work of her father—a trial attorney. In her talk, she shared insightful lessons about “law” and “life” that she learned from her father.
The first lesson is to learn to disagree without being disagreeable. She has learned to not take an opposing opinion personally. Even adversaries can be friends. (She noted that one of the reasons her father enjoyed his work is because he felt that he got to work with his friends!) A case will progress faster and results will be better if attorneys can learn to get along. Learning to disagree without being disagreeable makes life more enjoyable.
The second lesson is “the first rule of holes”—when you’re in a hole, stop digging. It may seem difficult to get out of a hole, but digging only makes it worse. Sister Renlund shared real-life examples of the dangers when attorneys attempt to “dig” their way out of “holes” or mistakes instead of owning and fixing them. In her experience, admitting a mistake only reinforces others’ trust in you, rather than destroying it. On this note, she bore testimony of the power of repentance—expressing her belief that God believes in the first rule of holes.
The third lesson that Sister Renlund taught is the importance of reputation: You only have one reputation—work hard, be prepared, and follow the rules. Sister Renlund shared how important each of these elements has been in creating an enriching career in law. She also taught the importance of maintaining a consistent character of integrity—whether at work, church, or elsewhere. According to Sister Renlund, when we settle our hearts and minds on being a disciple of Jesus Christ, a good reputation will follow.
Expressing her belief that these lessons apply to law and to life, she closed with a note of humor and wisdom—hoping that, “with any luck, we will all stop practicing law before we stop practicing life!” As to “life”—and speaking to her own experiences serving with her husband in the Church—she believes that “there is nothing more important in life than preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
If you did not get a chance to view the fireside live, the video of the fireside will soon be available on jrcls.org—with details to follow.
By Megan J. Nelson, Media Committee