Alumni Featured in Inaugural Faith in Practice Forum

By Ashleigh Wilson March 21, 2024

The inaugural Faith in Practice law forum was filled with inspiring remarks from alumni Hutch Fale (‘06), Leslie Gallacher (‘00), and Athelia Graham (‘19). The panel discussed how faith in Christ influences their lives and legal practice.

While sharing her personal story of faith in practice, Athelia Graham, Managing Attorney at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountain, talked about the Law School mission statement, specifically the roles of the Savior “including healer, mediator, counselor, peacemaker, advocate, lawgiver, and judge.” Working as an English as a Second Language teacher in Title I schools in Virginia, Athelia said she learned the importance of working as an advocate, counselor, and healer. She said as an attorney, “You’re helping people make sense of difficult things in their lives, to heal things.” She continued, “Every day there is a new chance to show charity to somebody.”

In her personal faith story, Leslie Gallacher, Partner at Parsons Behle & Latimer, discussed her feelings of unpreparedness and insecurity as she entered law school as a non-traditional student. A recently divorced single mother, Leslie relied on prayer to even walk in the door on the first day of classes. Her prayers were answered when she met a fellow 1L going through similar challenges. Leslie said, “With all of the things I’ve struggled with my faith throughout my lifetime, the one that I haven’t struggled with is prayer.” Speaking to law students, she continued, “The service oriented life that I live through my law degree is to give back for the gift that I was given to go to school here. And I’m here to tell you that if you live that kind of life, success in all forms will come.” She urged students to use their gift of a legal education to serve others. “By virtue of just being an attorney, I have been able to help a lot of people, which really has strengthened my testimony, made me a better lawyer, and a better human being. It has brought me more satisfaction in my career than money or fame has ever brought me.”

Hutch Fale, Attorney/Shareholder at Avery, Burdsal and Fale, asserted that “Faith will impact your practice to the degree that it impacts your life. Everything you do in your life, including your engagement in the practice of law, is infiltrated and influenced by that very same faith.” He continued, “If your faith is based on convenience, if your faith is peripheral in your life, that is the same impact it will have in your practice of law.” His journey to BYU Law was unique. Hutch knew where the Lord needed him to be and unlike his peers, he only applied to one law school – BYU Law. After graduation, he worked at a midsize law firm for only a few months before leaving to start his own firm with fellow BYU Law classmates.

Hutch also talked about how faith impacts his treatment of others. He said, “I need God’s help, I cannot do anything that would chase his spirit away. That affects how you talk to clients, how you build that relationship, how you interact with opposing counsel.” He concluded with, “When you involve your faith in your practice, there is something enabling and powerful that happens where you really feel that the Lord’s hand is assisting you in your journey, not just as a Child of God, but as an attorney, as a counselor, as an advisor, as someone who can offer real healing and guide people toward peace that the world is really seeking.”

Following the initial panel discussion, students were invited to ask questions. Panelists offered inspirational insight when asked about overcoming disappointments in law school and the legal profession. Leslie said that unanswered prayers are still answers, and she had to remember “His time is not my time, His ways are not my ways, and there’s a bigger plan for me.” Athelia said that it is easier to deal with disappointment as her faith deepens. She also emphasized the importance of learning to mourn, but then keep trying, knowing that God wants what’s best for us. Hutch touched on the need to evaluate disappointments and failures. He said to ask yourself “Did I do what I was supposed to do? If there were shortcomings, repent and move on. If you did everything you were supposed to do, believe that there is something better ahead.”

When asked about evolutions of faith, the panelists continued to offer advice. Leslie said that during faith crises, we need to remember that faith is not knowing. When difficulties arise, we need to remember that God’s love goes past all this. Athelia reminded students to “Believe in the principles. Gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned. If I believe that those are virtues that I want to live, those are going to help me.” She also urged students to be patient with themselves, love themselves, and offer that same patience and love to everybody. Hutch said “None of us are here to go to bed tonight with the same faith we had when we woke up,” we are meant to be engaged daily in faith building experiences.

The Faith in Practice forum was the first of a new series coming to the law school where accomplished lawyers will discuss the role faith plays in their daily legal practice. The first of many accomplished attorneys featured were three law school alums. Of the new forum series, Dean Clark Asay said, “An important component of a BYU Law education is to help our students form professional identities that honor their faith and beliefs. This speaker series will provide our students with examples of people who have successfully done so.”