Elder Snow: the life of a small town lawyer

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Elder Steven E. Snow of the First Quorum of the Seventy related the benefits of being a small-town lawyer at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at the annual Honored Alumni Lecture.

The law school was honoring Snow for his contributions as a lawyer, not for his work as a General Authority.

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Elder Steven R. Snow speaks about the importance of continuing education in this file photo.
“At least consider all of your options before you set in a career that will last 30 or more years,” he said.

Elder Snow worked as a lawyer in St. George. He said small-town life is more supportive of the family and too often, young lawyers sacrifice family for money and a high-paying job.

“Eventually, you will reach a point where time [with your family] means more to you than money,” Elder Snow said.

Even small town lawyers need to be careful about sacrificing family relationships. A lawyer’s job is busy and cluttered.

“If you want a neat, tidy job where chores are completed every day, I recommend being a postal carrier for the United States Postal Service,” he said.

There are more opportunities to make contributions in a small town than in a big city, he said.

“The public service we render is the rent we pay for a place on this earth,” Elder Snow said.

Practicing law in a small town also means that a lawyer can generalize. Elder Snow has spent much time in court arguing many cases.

“When the judge asks the jury foreman to read the verdict, it really is like its fourth and goal with three seconds left or a 30-foot jump shot,” Elder Snow said.

Elder Snow also talked about some of the challenges of practicing law in a small town.

“One half of the town loves you, and the other half hates you — until you sue the other half, and then they all hate you,” Elder Snow said.

Additionally, students interested in practicing in a small town must be prepared to live “lean and mean” for a while.

“I’ve been paid with quilts and produce,” Elder Snow said. “I got a trampoline once on a divorce.”

Prior to his call to serve as a full-time General Authority, Elder Snow was a senior partner in the Utah law firm of Snow Nuffer. He has been actively involved in the support of education. He served as a member and president of his local school board, chairman of the Utah State Board of Regents and Chairman of the Western States Commission of Higher Education.  He graduated in the law school’s second ever graduating class in 1977.

Elder Snow ended with three pieces of advice for students.

“First, always go for the big engine. Live a big life. Don’t be afraid of trying new things,” Elder Snow said. “Second, the early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. In all your planning, plan to be surprised. Third, never, ever underestimate the power of stupid people in a big crowd. Don’t let the crowd define you personally or professionally.”

 

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