I have to say, this evening's dinner was way better. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. There were people of all ages, all races, and from many different parts of the country and the world. There were an equal number of men and women, and I did not feel out of place. The people were genuinely interested in me. When I arrived at the event, I only knew one other person (the professor who invited me). By the time I left, I had exchanged business cards with several lawyers and made friends with the other law students present.
Contrast this with a typical JRCLS event, where I show up surrounded by cliquish old guys from Utah. I'm almost always the only woman present, and I'm usually ignored because the lawyers assume I'm just there tagging along as the spouse of whichever man I happen to be talking to. (I always love seeing the look on their faces when I mention that I'm the vice president of the student chapter. You would think they had seen a unicorn or something.)
Honestly, I was about ready to give up on the JRCLS. What's the point? But after attending this evening's dinner with the Bay Area Association of Muslim Lawyers, I think I'm going to give the JRCLS another try because I've caught the vision of what it could be.
Maybe other chapters are different, but here in the Bay Area, the local JRCLS chapters are really insular. We do devotionals and meetings, but I've never seen any community outreach. (The only exception I'm aware of is the SCU student chapter co-sponsored a faith and the law panel with several other student organizations. It was a great panel.) I would love to see a push for pro bono work in the community. I would love for the organization to be more welcoming to non-LDS attorneys (without attempting to convert them). I would love to partner with other associations of lawyers on issues of mutual concern.
We could be such a force for good in the world if we just go out there and act. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.I'm going to stick with the JRCLS and be the change I wish to see.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Note 1: I'm aware that this evening's dinner was on a Sunday. I don't feel that I was breaking the Sabbath by attending. I wouldn't attend a secular networking dinner on a Sunday, but because this was religious, I think it's fine.
Note 2: I've been pretty hard on the J. Reuben Clark Law Society in this post, so I should add that I have been to some good events. In November, I went to an event where Judge Griffith of the DC Circuit spoke, and he gave one of the most spiritually uplifting talks I've heard in a long time. And he treated me with the same respect as he treated the male guests.