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BYU Law to address wellness during 2023 Law and Leadership Conference

Legal and wellness scholars and practitioners to discuss the legal profession’s role in industry and community well-being at conference at BYU Law.

“Each year, BYU Law School hosts a Law and Leadership Conference to address an issue of current importance with a focus on how the industry might make the world a better place,” said D. Gordon Smith, Dean, BYU Law. “We are concerned by the prevalence of mental and physical wellness issues in the legal profession. We look forward to convening experts to discuss what the legal profession is doing and how we can do better when it comes to being good stewards for the well-being of legal professionals.”

Dean Smith will kick off the event with opening remarks at 9 a.m. Mountain Time on Friday, January 27. Meera Deo, The Honorable Vaino Spencer Chair and Professor of Law, Southwest Law School, Director of the Law School Survey of Student Engagement will deliver the morning keynote, exploring a range of topics, including the importance of work/life balance. Professor Deo is a national expert on legal education; racial representation; and diversity, equity and inclusion. In her ongoing empirical study, Pandemic Effects on Legal Academia, Professor Deo analyzes how the global pandemic affects scholarly productivity and the career success of vulnerable faculty, including caregivers, women of color and untenured professors.

Martha Knudsen, Executive Director, Utah State Bar Well-Being Committee for the Legal Profession, and Matt Thiese, Associate Professor and Occupational Injury Prevention Director at the University of Utah and Founder of SeafeLane Health, Inc., will participate in a morning panel titled, “What is the Legal Profession Doing?” They will discuss the Bar’s efforts to promote well-being among Utah lawyers and law students.

The conference will also include a discussion on “Community Well-being.” Panelists Lani Taholo, Clinical Director, Child and Empowerment Services; Abby Dizon-Maughan, Associate at Parsons, Behle & Latimer; and Pamela Beatse, Access to Justice Director, Utah State Bar, will discuss the inherent connection between self-care and community care, what that looks like and how it gives us the power to thrive as a collective.

During the lunch session, Jane Mitchell, BYU Law Research Fellow, will speak about “How Law Schools Fuel Student Threat Responses.” Mitchell co-teaches BYU law school’s leadership class alongside Dean Smith. Mitchell is also co-founder and CEO of the Reset Foundation, which identifies promising young people trapped in cycles of poverty, court-involvement and unemployment, and offers them a high-quality residential program where they learn to work, study and live in healthy ways.

The afternoon discussion will focus on “Well-being Among Minorities” with panelists Melinda Bowen, Of Counsel, Snow Christensen & Martineau; Bryan Jackson, Senior Counsel, Office of General Counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; BYU Law and Leadership Fellow Tatenda Makanza; and BYU Law student Daliyah Rudek. They will discuss the unique challenges of racial, ethnic, religious, and disabled minority lawyers.

For more information about the conference, including the schedule and list of speakers, visit:  

About BYU Law School
Founded in 1971 with its inaugural class in 1973, the J. Reuben Clark Law School (BYU Law) has grown into one of the nation’s leading law schools – recognized for innovative research and teaching in social change, transactional design, entrepreneurship, corpus linguistics, criminal justice and religious freedom. The Law School has more than 6,000 alumni serving in communities around the world. In its most recent rankings, National Jurist recognized BYU Law as the #1 best-value law school in its 2021 ranking. BYU Law also earned its highest U.S. news ranking to date, coming in at No. 23 in the U.S. News 2023 Best Graduate School rankings. For more information, visit