Best wishes to the Utah State Bar on the occasion of its 75th birthday. Article VIII, Sec. 4 of the state constitution gives the Utah Supreme Court responsibility for governing the practice of law, including admission to practice and the discipline of admitted lawyers. For better or worse, the Court and the Bar are permanently entwined.
Some months back, I received a copy of a publication titled The Utah Bar Bulletin, Official Organ, The Utah State Bar, Vol. 1, October, 1931. This publication appears to be the great-grandfather of our current Bar Journal. As I read the familiar "Message from the President," it was clear that the public image of the legal profession in 1931 was no less ambiguous than it is today. President Dean F. Brayton wrote:
Because it is one of the most essential cogs in the present complicated social, economic and political machine, the profession of the law has come in for more than its share of criticism from the public. This criticism has been directed both at us as individuals and as a class; - at us as individuals because of asserted sharp practices by many of us and at the profession generally because of its alleged failure, and that of our whole judicial structure, properly to function in the development of our civilization.
The writer is one of those who feel that the present Organized State Bar can and will do much to eliminate this criticism and to re-establish the profession, the whole judicial structure, in the public mind, where it rightfully belongs, - as the chief protector, in our form of government, of the public welfare. How will this be done?
First, by the careful scrutiny and examination of applicants for admission to the practice of law;
Second, by enforcing strictly disciplinary rules of conduct among its members; and
Third, by such contact with boards and commissions and with agencies offering service of a legal character as will acquaint them with the ability of the profession and the judicial department within their fields to render, to the public, the best possible service.
The old adage "the more things change, the more they remain the same," comes to mind. Then, as now, the mission of the Utah State Bar is to serve the public and the profession by promoting justice, professional excellence and respect for the law. Professionalism in the practice of law is the essential component in such service. Former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor defines professionalism as follows:
To me, the essence of professionalism is a commitment to develop one's skills to the fullest and to apply that responsibly to the problems at hand. Professionalism requires adherence to the highest ethical standards of conduct and a willingness to subordinate narrow self-interest in pursuit of the more fundamental goal of public service. Because of the tremendous power they wield in our system, lawyers must never forget that their duty to serve their clients fairly and skillfully takes priority over the personal accumulation of wealth. At the same time, lawyers must temper bold advocacy for their clients with a sense of responsibility to the larger legal system which strives, however imperfectly, to provide justice for all.
In this 75th anniversary year, I wish to pay tribute to and sincerely thank those members of the Utah Bar who have served in the past or are serving now on a Supreme Court committee. These lawyers render countless hours of invaluable service to the Court, the profession, and the public with all too little praise or reward. At the current time, there are 72 lawyers serving on six Supreme Court Advisory Rules Committees. There are 20 lawyers painstakingly drafting model civil and criminal jury instructions. There are 28 lawyers serving on the Ethics and Discipline Committee of the Utah Supreme Court. There are 16 lawyers serving on the Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Professionalism. And, there are 129 lawyers presently serving as pro tempore judges. In so many ways, the judiciary cannot function without you. On behalf of the Utah Supreme Court and the Judicial Council, please accept my sincere gratitude for your efforts and my best wishes for the continued success of the partnership between the bench and bar in promoting justice.
The Honorable Christine M. Durham