2013-01 JRCLS Fireside-Murdock

J. Reuben Clark Law Society 11th Annual Fireside – January 2013

By Karen Son

Thanks to Sister Jennifer Kajiyama’s exceptional efforts, the BYU-Hawaii Prelaw Society once again successfully participated in another J. Reuben Clark Law Society activity. Each year the JRCLS Hawaii Chapter gathers for firesides and events, granting our own BYU-H Prelaw Society students a wonderful opportunity to interact with lawyers, judges, and professors while participating in their various meetings and activities. On January 25, 2013, our Prelaw Society was privileged to join the J. Reuben Clark Law Society (JRCLS) Hawaii Chapter during their annual meeting at the Honolulu Stake Tabernacle for the 11th Annual JRCLS Fireside Broadcast featuring Elder Larry Echohawk, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The J. Reuben Clark Law Society (JRCLS) was named in honor of J. Reuben Clark, the former ambassador to Mexico and an attorney with the Department of State and the Under Secretary of State. Overseeing 65 professional chapters and 125 student chapters throughout the world, the JRCLS exercises considerable influence within the discipline of international law. Anyone with a law degree or attending law school can join the society. It also holds annual conferences and firesides to strengthen connections and to remind the members of the society’s mission statement which reads: We affirm the strength brought to the law by a lawyer’s personal religious conviction. We strive through public service and professional excellence to promote fairness and virtue founded upon the rule of law. Elder Larry Echohawk has served in various positions, including as faculty of the J. Reuben Clark Law School, as the head of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs, as the United States Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, and as a general authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Growing up as a Pawnee Indian and noting the dark chapters facing Indian tribes in American history, Elder Echohawk dedicated his life to advocating Native American progress and rights. It is this higher commitment, he notes, that encouraged him to become a lawyer and strive to improve the lives of the people he loves. As a young man of 17, Echohawk converted to the Church. To fully understand Church beliefs and expand his personal faith, he committed to reading 10 pages of the Book of Mormon each day until he finished. Beginning with the introduction, he found that the scriptures included a special teachings written for the Lamanites, the Jews, and the Gentiles. Discovering that the Lamanites were among the ancestors of the American Indians, he realized that the Book of Mormon and its accounting of God’s dealing with the ancient inhabitants of this Land of Promise, was about his American Indian ancestors. Completing his reading in less than 2 months, Brother Echohawk received a powerful witness that the Book of Mormon was true. Even now, years later, Elder Echohawk still gains strengths by remembering this special experience. After a long and fruitful teaching career at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, Elder Echohawk was nominated by the President of the United States to serve as the Assistant Secretary in the Department of Interior with the responsibility over Indian Affairs. “I hesitated” he noted, “because that means I would become the face of the federal government to the Indian nations.” Remembering the dark chapters in American history and the American government’s poor treatment of American Indians, Elder Echohawk had to consider this offer deeply before making a definite decision. He finally decided to accept the job because he considered it another opportunity to serve. “I realized that it was not just about me, but it was a chance to do a great amount of good to the people in need.” Carrying the responsibility to represent the US President to the 566 tribal nations, Elder Echohawk felt a heavy burden but rejoiced in the chance to serve the people he loved. Elder Echohawk said he was fearless and courageous in doing what was right. His motivation was not only for the First Americans but was for all of America. Passionate about reversing the dark past while creating a bright future, Elder Echohawk worked diligently. Through it all he routinely read the scriptures and gained strength and courage to press through challenging times. Expressing a sincere love and appreciation for his law students, Elder Echohawk exclaimed, “I love BYU; I love JRCLS; I love laws. But most of all, I love association with the students.” Ending his remarks, he encouraged the law students to maintain high standards and to use their talents to fulfill the Lord’s purposes for each of them. “We have the power of His words within us. We have been blessed to have a power of legal education. Where much is given, much is expected.”