Kulani and I experienced yet again one of our favorite nights of the year, the annual J. Reuben Clark Law School's Founder's Day Dinner. This would make it our tenth year of attending. It's a night dedicated to remembering why it was that more than 30 years ago, the LDS church authorities thought it important enough that BYU have a law school.
Seems rather strange to some that the LDS church would be encouraging "more" of its followers to become lawyers. If you are to believe as a sister-in-law of mine believes, all lawyers are going straight to hell. But at the Founder's Day Dinner, you get a glimpse into that vision, and it makes you so excited and proud to be part of it. And it always leaves me wanting to be a better person.
They always give an award to a distinguished alumni. This year they gave an award to an R. Keith Perkins, class of '93. Perkins is a lawyer in Arizona who founded the Never Again Foundation, which provides free civil representation for women, children, and senior citizens who have been victims of physical or sexual abuse in civil actions directly against their abusers. The Foundation has collected more than $170 million in verdict awards on behalf of its clients. The services are free to the victims, and 100% of all judgments that are actually collected are provided to the victims to help them rebuild their lives.
Perkins was present to accept the award that night, and he started his speech by getting choked up over his love for BYU. I, of course, also started to cry, because that's who I am. Kulani again reminded me that I was a big ball baby. In vintage Kulani speak, he says to me: "What's wrong with you, Larry Miller." This caused me to start laughing pretty hardily. Larry Miller, rest in peace, is a bit of a running joke in our family. My father, who is certifiably probably one of the biggest criers of any man I've ever known, said to Kulani once, "I don't like Larry Miller. He cries too much." Well if that isn't calling the kettle black...
The night also features a speaker with close ties to BYU law school. Last night's speaker was the Honorable Dale A. Kimball. He taught at BYU from 1974-1976. He now serves as a Federal Judge.
It was a great speech sprinkled with funny stories. One story he included was about him and his friend being fired from hoeing sugar beets on his father's farm in Draper because of his poor sugar-beet thinning skills. That hit home for me, as I saw my father fire my two oldest brothers from our family custodial business for "horsing around." He allowed them to come back, however, just as Judge Kimball's dad for him.
The part of his talk I hope to remember and infuse in my life, however, was how in his role as judge, the one character trait more LDS people and people of the world could use is honesty. I don't have the quote with me directly, but it was very powerful and made me want to make sure that honesty was very much a part of my moral fabric.
I'll share one more story, because it's a classic law school story that always makes me very fond of Rex Lee, the law school's first dean and also a huge reason why the law school is such a success today. I've heard this story before, but last night it was shared to us by Elder Bruce C. Hafen, also a past law school dean.
LDS church president Harold B. Lee died in 1978. Soon after, Spencer W. Kimball was called to be president of the church. Judge Kimball called Rex Lee on the phone and said, "The Lees are out, and the Kimballs are taking over."
Years later, after President Spencer W. Kimball died, President Ezra Taft Benson was called to be prophet. Rex Lee called up an old student and now judge, Dee Benson, and asked him to call Judge Kimball and say, "The Kimballs are out, and the Bensons are in." As soon as Dee Benson said that to Judge Kimball, Kimball said, "Benson, Rex put you up to this!"
Just a great night that I thought I would record for history sake. Oh, and this blog got quoted by the BYU Web site, so that was cool: