President Camille N. Johnson didn’t ways want a career as a lawyer, but now she says she can see how the Lord was guiding her to it.
On a recent episode of the Church News podcast, host Sarah Jane Weaver interviewed President Camille N. Johnson, who will begin her service as Relief Society General President on August 1. Previously, President Johnson served as Primary General President.
President Johnson graduated from the University of Utah in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in English, followed by a law degree from the University of Utah’s S. J. Quinney College of Law in 1989. She and her husband have three sons. In the podcast episode, Weaver asked President Johnson what skills she learned during her law career that aid her Church service.
“As a lawyer, I always saw myself as a problem-solver,” President Johnson said. “If a client came to me and chose me because they wanted somebody to get mean and angry with the opposition, I told them they’d chosen poorly. That wasn’t my aim or objective. My objective was to advocate on behalf of my client in the most persuasive way I could and to help them solve a problem.”
She continued, “I viewed myself as a problem-solver in my law practice, and I hope that that skill translates to my service here in the Church, that we recognize problems and then we draw upon the resources that are available to us, our greatest resource being people, in order to solve problems.”
President Johnson also noted that the best lawyers are the best listeners, another skill she hopes will enable her to bless others in her new calling.
In a recent BYU devotional, President Johnson spoke about how the Lord guided her path to becoming a lawyer. After graduating with her English degree, she wasn’t sure about what she should do next. Her mother’s patriarchal blessing encouraged her to purse a career in nursing, but President Johnson’s blessing offered no such guidance about her career.
“Given my personality, I wanted a plan; I wanted to have ‘next steps.’ But nothing came to me clearly, so I took a step forward in faith and accepted a job in Washington, DC, working for a congressman from California. I hatched a plan to take the LSAT while I was back there—frankly knowing very little about what it would be like to be a lawyer. I was accepted to law school and met my husband while I was in my first year,” she said in her BYU devotional.
President Johnson and her husband, Doug, were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in 1987, and President Johnson soon started working as lawyer at a well-established firm in Salt Lake City in 1989. She continued her career until 2016, when she took a leave of absence to serve as a mission leader with her husband in the Peru Arequipa Mission. Upon returning in 2019, President Johnson went back to her career until her call to the Primary General Presidency in April 2021.
“My life plan was rolled out for me as I lived it, keeping my eye on the prize of eternal life. My patriarchal blessing didn’t tell me what to study, no angel suggested the practice of law, and no vision told me Doug Johnson was who I should marry. (In fact, my confirmation that he was the man for me came after he had proposed and I had prepared a pros-and-cons list.) Yes, I would have liked for it all to have been spelled out for me. But it wasn’t. Instead, the Lord trusted me, and, what is more important, I trusted in the Lord and just kept taking steps forward, believing that if I was off course, the Lord would redirect me,” President Johnson told BYU students.
On the Church News podcast, President Johnson spoke to how important the guidance of the Spirit was as she and her husband both navigated careers and raising their three sons.
“I think sometimes we’re looking for something more definite, and we don’t realize that the Spirit really is attending our every day, our every moment, our every decision. … I think I was guided by the Spirit to pursue the career path that I did. I was blessed to marry a husband whose objective, like mine, was returning to our heavenly home with our children. And along that path of marriage, and then children, and both of us working, and both of us serving in Church callings, we just kept trying to do what we thought was right, and we worked hard to bless the lives of our children. We were equally yoked in sharing the responsibility of providing for our family. We were equally yoked in sharing the responsibility of nurturing our children.”
▶ You may also like: What honoring her late father’s birthday at the temple taught Pres. Johnson