Mormon Newsroom
News Release

Church-affiliated Law Society Gathers Attorneys to Discuss Moral Obligations to Society

Thirty four lawyers and law students from Nigeria and Ghana gathered in Accra to discuss the tie between moral obligations and law practices at the fourth annual meeting of the Africa West Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society in early September.

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society is an international association of lawyers committed to strengthening the legal profession by their personal religious convictions. The society was founded in 1988 at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, which is part of Brigham Young University in Utah. BYU is a private institution owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; it is the largest religious university and third-largest private university in the U.S.

The two-day meeting, under the direction of chapter-chair Edward Goh, hosted prominent law professionals including International chair-elect Jeremiah Morgan, a deputy solicitor general for the U.S. State of Missouri and Arlen Woffinden, regional legal counsel for the Church.

The key-note speaker was Rev. Dr. Fred Deegbe, lawyer and now pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Accra. He also served as the general secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana.

“The formal rules of conduct – the rules of court and the ethical rules of the legal profession – are the minimum standard of behavior for lawyers,” Deegbe said. “If lawyers are to be true to their religious convictions in relation to their profession, they must go beyond the formal rules.”

Deegbe said religious convictions must lead lawyers to a higher level of fidelity and commitment to the needs of their clients and society, and to peaceful and harmonious conduct even when working through conflicts.

“Christian lawyers therefore must train themselves to be loving, gracious, forgiving and cheerful, thankful to God and humble,” he said. “We may be called as lawyers, but we are first called by a King to serve His message of forgiveness.”

Martin Slater, area legal counsel for the Church, spoke on the need for civility. Slater particularly noted the Apostle Paul’s admonitions in Ephesians, Chapter 4, regarding the nature of true Christian conversation.

‘The practice of law does not require improper conversational strategies criticized by Paul,” Slater said. “Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour and evil speaking should be put away, along with all malice. Rather, speaking styles that involve kindness should be adopted as Paul admonished.”

Following a discussion on higher obligations owed to the practice of law, chair-elect Morgan was asked what he considered the most pressing issues of the day. He provided two current developments: challenges to freedom of religion and people avoiding responsibility for their actions. His response resonated with the lawyers in attendance.

The J. Reuben Clark Law Society has more than 10,000 lawyers involved in chapters throughout the U.S. and twenty-seven international locations. The society and the Church are also active participants in efforts around the world to preserve individuals’ rights to freedom of religion. The Church has recently launched new online resources to assist in highlighting the importance of the individual right to freedom of religion. Visit mormonnewsroom.org or the Facebook page, “Support Religious Freedom,” for more information.

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