This is Bob. KLynn asked me to write a little bit explaining what we are doing here. Since June 1, 2010, I have been employed by the Office of General Counsel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka "Mormon Church"). My job title is Area Legal Counsel for the Europe East Area. The Europe East Area comprises the nations of the former Soviet Union, including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan and several other "stans,"as well as Bulgaria and Turkey. My job is to manage the legal affairs of the Church within those countries, and to advise the Area Presidency and other church leaders on legal matters. Technically I'm not practicing law, but serve as "in house counsel" for the Church. I work heavily with local counsel in the various countries and oversee their work. Among other things, my office is responsible for maintaining the legal status of the Church, reviewing and approving contracts, handling legal issues pertaining to real estate acquisition and construction, visas and immigration, import and export, dispute resolution, missionaries, employment and (together with the public affairs department) government relations. The work is varied, challenging, and interesting. At times it can also be very rewarding. The legal environment here is very different from what I was accustomed to as an attorney in private practice in Salt Lake City for thirty years, and I am still in the process of growing into the assignment. For that matter, I think I will continue to grow into the assignment for as long as we will be here.
The Church has been in this part of the world for about twenty years, and the membership is still relatively small. There is one "stake" of the Church, in Kyiv, and the Church is planning to dedicate its first temple here at the end of August, also in Kyiv. I work with two Associate Area Legal Counsels, who are senior attorneys who serve as volunteers without pay for eighteen months. One is in Moscow and the other in Kyiv. There are also two legal coordinators and an office manager who work in our Moscow Office. There are, I think, thirteen missions in the Europe East Area, and roughly a thousand missionaries. There are eleven Area Legal Counsels who are located in various cities throughout the world.
KLynn and I feel very fortunate to be here, and so far it has been a positive experience.