40 Years of Influence: Craig Call

August 27, 2020

When Craig Call was 16 years old, his father died. “He was my hero,” Call said. Before his death, Call’s father passed on an idea: “He told me that he thought I was smart enough to go to law school.” This remark caused Call to think about law school.

Despite his interest in law school, Call was reluctant to leave Provo making it seem out of reach. But on March 9, 1971, Call was in attendance when BYU announced the creation of a new law school. Call recalls telling himself, “If I can get into the J. Reuben Clark Law School, then I’ll go to law school.”

Call remembers law school as a time of unprecedented academic growth. “For the most part, it was an accepting community where we all intellectually awakened—awakened to what was going on around us and how many before us had created this [legal] environment. It’s just a wondrous thing to see all the moving parts and how they fit together at that point at time.”

During his last year of law school, Call served as the BYU liaison to the Provo City Council. He was actively involved in attending all city council meetings. Call remembers some people telling him, “You’re focusing on your legal education.” However, Call felt it was important to be involved, even if law school was busy. During the final banquet in law school, the faculty gave Call an award for outstanding service to the community.  “I was deeply touched,” he said. “You can have great, broadening law school experiences full of chances to serve others at the same time.”

Though Call enjoyed many things about law school, he recalls that “it got really hard.” He remembers a specific experience when he called home during Christmas Break in 1974. “I called my mother and I said, ‘You know, this law school thing is great, but I just don’t think I’m cut out for this–it’s awfully hard, and I’ve got these other opportunities, and I don’t think you have to go to law school to succeed.’ I don’t remember exactly what she said, but that decision was unmade immediately, to her everlasting credit. She basically said, ‘That is not what’s going to happen.’”   

Since graduating, Call has used his legal training throughout a diverse career. As a “passionate historic preservationist,” he worked to restore buildings in downtown Provo on Center Street and University Avenue. In addition to historic preservation, Call served in the Utah Legislature and on the Provo City Council. He also entered the business world.

In the last 10 years, Call has worked work as an attorney specializing in land use. “There is hardly anything I have done in my life that hasn't been influenced by my attending law school–the perspective, the vision, the history, and the focus the study of law gives you. The discipline of the law is a tremendous benefit in all areas of life,” he said.

“Law school gave me an incredibly large number of tools in my toolbox,” he said. “My ability to solve problems, to understand the problems, and to offer solutions is dramatically, geometrically expanded by having had a law degree.”