SALT LAKE CITY — Elder Dallin H. Oaks was among friends Thursday afternoon, surrounded by legal professionals at the new home of Utah's largest law firm.
Elder Oaks, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of the Twelve, officially welcomed Kirton McConkie to City Creek Center and offered a dedicatory prayer on the firm's new building at 50 E. South Temple.
"Lawyers and the legal profession have served humanity ably, responsibly and effectively throughout our lifetimes and for many generations before us," Elder Oaks told the lawyers gathered in the new office.
"The continuation of that service, which is essential to the children of God and the work of the Lord, depends on the conscientious performances of lawyers like you and law firms like Kirton McConkie," he said.
It's been 28 years since Elder Oaks has practiced, taught or interpreted law professionally.
"(But) my approach to gathering facts, analyzing problems and proposing action is a product of my legal training and experience," he said. "That is why I still feel a closeness to the legal profession, affection for its greatest traditions and respect for its finest practitioners."
Elder Oaks, who practiced and taught law in Chicago and later served as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, said he was thrilled to learn Kirton McConkie would occupy the lone office building constructed as part of City Creek Center, the $1.5 billion mixed-use development of the LDS Church and partner Taubman Centers Inc.
The building originally was planned as an office tower — known for years as "Tower 4." But officials with City Creek Reserve Inc., a development arm of the LDS Church, determined after construction was under way that the structure would better serve the project as an office building.
"A project of this magnitude is almost always, by nature, a design/build," said Robert C. Hyde, chairman of the Kirton McConkie's board and head legal counsel for work the firm did on City Creek Center. "You're designing as you build it."
As the law firm of the LDS Church, Kirton McConkie was given the first option to lease the building, Hyde said.
"Early on, there were some greedy eyes on this building," he said.
Roughly 40 percent of Kirton McConkie's 129 lawyers now occupy the second through sixth floors of the retro-style building on South Temple. The firm recently was honored by the Associated General Contractors of Utah as 2011's Office Building Project of the Year for tenant improvements on the building.
"We're absolutely thrilled to be in this building, to have our name on it and be part of … City Creek Center," said Lorin C. Barker, Kirton McConkie's president.
During the dedication ceremony, Elder Lance B. Wickman, emeritus general authority and general counsel for the LDS Church, praised Kirton McConkie for the work it has done for the church for nearly 17 years.
"It's not really the building we're dedicating," Elder Wickman said. "It's really us, in our devotion, in our service, giving the best that we have to give in our professional capacity, realizing that in doing so we are not just representing another client, but we are representing the church of Jesus Christ himself."
Kirton McConkie, which also represents Deseret Media Companies — including the Deseret News, was founded in 1964. In addition to the new building, the firm has offices in the Eagle Gate Tower and in the Pinehurst Business Park in Orem.