Meryln Clark has been practicing law for more than 52 years, with a list of accomplishments and accolades too long to print here. He’s a household name in Idaho law, but there is one thing that many people don’t know about the 79 year old.
“People don’t know a lot about my competiveness and that I’ve done triathlons and a lot of running,” Clark says.
Clark has been a member of a running club since 1990, and he and the rest of the Boise Bunrunners have competed in long relay races – we’re talking distances of 72 to 200 miles — across the West. That competiveness has showed up in his work since he began practicing in 1964.
“It served me in my career because I don’t like to lose, and I will work especially hard to prepare so I don’t lose,” Clark says. “My client gets the best representation that I can possibly give.”
Clark, a partner at Hawley Troxell Ennis & Hawley in downtown Boise, began his career in private practice in Lewiston before he became Prosecuting Attorney of Nez Perce County. He moved to Boise in 1979 to join his current firm. Along the way, he helped create new rules of evidence that still are in use today. He’s also become one of the best mediators and abitrators, two forms of law that have grown in popularity because of his legal costs.
“Technology has expanded discovery,” Clark says. “We ask for cell phones, computers and all your electronic devices so they can be searched to see where you’ve been, who you communicated with and where your assets are. Thirty years ago, we didn’t do any of that. We might send a private investigator around. Electronics have very much changed how litigation is conducted, and business law as well.”
There have been tough moments, too.
“I’ve seen children taken out of the arms of a mother or parent when I was a county prosecutor,” Clark says. “And it was my job to present the evidence that resulted in that. It was very hard. One of the things you learn is compassion for people because the law is not compassionate.”
Clark also has taught classes at his alma mater, the University of Idaho, something he enjoys and wishes he had could do more often.
“The preparation that is required for teaching day in and day out is just too demanding to try and maintain with a fulltime law practice,” he says. “I have a lot of respect for teachers who show up every day prepared and engaged. If I retire, that’s something I might be able to do.”
In addition, he has worked and volunteered for a number of civic and nonprofit organizations including being on the boards of the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation Inc., Women’s and Children’s Alliance Inc., and Idaho Partners Against Domestic Violence.
Retire? Clark says he is getting some pressure from his family, which includes wife Sandy and six children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
When retirement does finally come, Clark is hoping to become an author.
“I’m thinking about writing a few books about cases that I think would be of interest,” he says. “I’ve engaged an author to mentor me, but I haven’t found the time to do the homework he’s given me.”
When Clark does step down, he’ll be sorely missed in the legal world.
“I have known and worked with and in opposition to Meryln Clark for more than 20 years,” writes former Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles McDevitt. “In each and every instance Meryln performed in a professional manner with great skill. He’s a demonstrated leader in the legal profession.”
To view photos from the 2016 Leaders in Law networking reception and awards event Nov. 17, 2016, visit http://www.idahobusinessreview.smugmug.com/.