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BYU Studies Quarterly

BYU Studies Quarterly

Abstract

Ernest L. Wilkinson is best known for being the president of Brigham Young University for twenty years (1951–1971). He should also be remembered for his role as catalyst for the existence of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU. Wilkinson's diaries and personal papers tell the story of the J. Reuben Clark Law School founding prior to its March 9, 1971, public announcement. This article discusses the first mention in Wilkinson's papers of a law school at BYU, Wilkinson's work behind the scenes for a year to start it, and his important contributions to the law school's early foundation. Ernest Wilkinson came up with the idea of a Mormon law school, but his "politically flavored model" was quickly set aside by the actual law school founders, who focused on legal competence and religious faithfulness. Despite his disappointment, Wilkinson stayed loyal to the LDS Church, BYU, and the law school, even though he did not get to play a greater role in the development of the BYU Law School.

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