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President's Corner Archives

July 16, 2009

Twenty Years of Bar Operations

by Nathan D. Alder, President, Utah State Bar

Over the past three years, the Supreme Court, Bar Commission, Bar staff, and certain Bar committees have engaged in extensive reviews of Bar governance, operations, regulatory obligations, financial status and investments, member services, and public programs. At the direction of the Court, the Commission retained the services of Grant Thornton to conduct a non-financial audit of Bar governance and management. That report included several recommendations, one of which was an extensive review of the Bar’s operations. Through Court direction, the Bar then conducted five extensive year-long reviews (management and technology, communications, admissions, access to justice, and member benefits) by July 2008, and will finish five more reviews (professional conduct, continuing legal education, building and property, fee dispute resolution, and client security fund) by this July. As an outside provider, the Grant Thornton review came at a significant financial cost. The remaining two years of operational reviews have been conducted by volunteers, namely Bar Commissioners, key bar leaders and members, in order to ensure that no additional cost would be incurred by the Bar for such reviews. I would like to thank those volunteers for the many thousands of dollars in time donated to this intensive review of the Bar’s finances, assets, operations, and programs.

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January 14, 2009

Challenging Times

Challenging Times
by Nathan D. Alder

The past several months have highlighted the extraordinary challenges we face. It goes without saying, but we have a lot of work ahead of us. The world has tremendous problems. Our nation is in financial turmoil, among many other pressing concerns. We have all been impacted. Locally, we are in a serious budget shortfall at the state level, and many of our clients are facing uncertain outcomes. Foreclosures are at record levels. Unemployment is rising. Retirements have been lost. People are suffering. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels. We are pubic servants, officers of the court, professionals, problem solvers, pro bono lawyers, providers of meaningful and necessary services, and we are community leaders. Let me offer a few thoughts on our role as lawyers and leaders in the context of our current societal challenges.

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November 17, 2008

The Bar is Looking for a Few Good Mentors Actually, We Need Hundreds of You to Step Forward

The Bar is Looking for a Few Good Mentors Actually, We Need Hundreds of You to Step Forward
by Nathan D. Alder

On September 30, 2008, the Bar petitioned the Utah Supreme Court to replace the first year of mandatory New Lawyer Continuing Legal Education (“NLCLE”) with a one-on-one mentoring program called the New Lawyer Training Program (“NLTP”). While we await the Supreme Court’s final action on the petition, as well as Bar members’ comments, the Court has endorsed the mentoring concept and approved the Bar’s recruitment of mentors. Many new lawyers indicate that they do not feel well-prepared for the practical aspects of practicing law. And, adequate on-the-job training too often is subordinated to billable hours and business pressure. The new program matches a newly-admitted lawyer with an experienced attorney to help the new lawyer acquire the practical skills and judgment necessary to practice in a highly competent manner. The mentor can also help the new lawyer to better understand ethical and professional requirements and constraints and to develop networking and long-term relationships within the profession.

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September 26, 2008

Professional Relationships

Professional Relationships
by Nathan D. Alder

“No road is long with good company.”
– Turkish proverb

Good relationships make a big difference in our profession. We benefit from many wonderful, cordial, and professional relationships as lawyers. These professional relationships often lead to friendships that extend well beyond the closing of a file. We have the opportunity to handle matters, even litigation, with lawyers we consider to be good friends. Often, we can resolve cases sooner, and to our client’s improved satisfaction, because of our professional relationships.

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July 16, 2008

Giving Generously

Giving Generously
by V. Lowry Snow

Bar meetings in Salt Lake City usually begin with a 4:30 AM alarm. My wife has become more accepting of my predawn rustling and rushing to shower and dress before heading out the door to catch the early commuter flight to Salt Lake City. Typically, I use the flight time in review of contracts, pleadings or correspondence – the things that I try to keep up with in a busy practice while still devoting a good measure of time to the fulfillment of my presidential duties. Instead this morning, I’m reflecting on the events of the past year and trying to identify what it is about this experience that has been so rewarding.

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January 2, 2008

Lawyer Assistance in Utah – Let Us Help

Lawyer Assistance in Utah – Let Us Help
by V. Lowry Snow

In 2002, Utah Lawyers Helping Lawyers (Utah LHL) invited the ABA Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs to conduct an on-site evaluation of the availability of programs in place to assist Utah lawyers with a range of issues including chemical dependency, stress, depression, and other psychological conditions. The final report the review team issued first addressed the question of whether Utah needed a fully funded assistance program to address these issues. In response, the report offered statistics generated from lawyer assistance programs in other states and frankly, the data are disconcerting. For example, the report highlights the results of a Johns Hopkins study from 1990 that attorneys lead the nation in the incidence of depression. One study indicated that between 15% and 18% of lawyers and judges will suffer from chemical dependency or psychological impairment at some point during their career. Another study estimates that between 50% and 70% of all disciplinary matters are related to substance abuse or other psychological problems. It can be argued that because of Utah’s unique culture, healthy lifestyle, and strong emphasis on family life and support, that these numbers are simply not representative of its lawyers. However, after reviewing additional ABA literature on this matter and after spending considerable time with the leaders from both of our lawyer assistance providers: Utah LHL and Blomquist Hale, I am convinced that these same issues, to some extent, affect our membership.

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November 3, 2007

Professionally Insured…To Be or Not to Be

Professionally Insured…To Be or Not to Be
by V. Lowry Snow

You will recall that the re-licensing process this year included questions regarding Bar member professional malpractice insurance coverage. We appreciate your participation. The purpose for gathering the information was to determine the extent to which professional malpractice coverage is being utilized by our members and to provide a basis for improving the Bar’s effort to facilitate the availability and promote the affordability of coverage. The survey information has been gathered, analyzed, and summarized. The results contain a mix of good news along with some news that could be better. On the positive side, we found that approximately 74% of active lawyers involved in representing private clients (i.e., not government or in-house counsel), carry malpractice coverage. I believe the overall percentage of coverage is better than many had predicted. Firms of 11 lawyers or more enjoy the highest percentage of coverage at nearly 99%. Conversely, the group comprising solo practitioners had the lowest percentage, with only 38% having coverage. Approximately 82% of firms with 2–10 lawyers reported being insured. It is interesting to note the regional differentiation across the State, with the highest percentages of coverage being in the Third Judicial District at almost 80% and the more rural Sixth and Eighth Districts at 38% and 43% respectively. The most widely reported reason for not having insurance coverage was that it was “too expensive,” at 51%. The full results of the survey are posted on the Bar’s web page at www.utahbar.org.

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September 3, 2007

Greetings

Greetings
by V. Lowry Snow

I’d like to begin this first message by simply saying how immensely honored I am to be your President. My past several years of service on the Bar Commission have provided me a greater level of appreciation for the quality of our organization. I readily embrace the office with its responsibilities and I am committed to making it my first professional priority of this 2007 – 2008 annual Bar year. I sincerely thank you for your vote of confidence and also for your expressions of support.

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July 1, 2007

A Few Parting Thoughts

A Few Parting Thoughts
by Gus Chin

Dear Bar Members:

At the May Bar admission ceremony, Senior United States District Judge Bruce S. Jenkins, in his remarks to the new admittees, mentioned how times have changed. He had them stand, look towards their family and friends, and reminded them that their accomplishments, including admission to the practice, were not achieved alone. He also said that ends and means must harmonize and challenged the new admittees to use their skills so that the rule of law continues in all of its revolutionary majesty.

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May 29, 2007

Make a Difference, Be a Mentor

Make a Difference, Be a Mentor
by Gus Chin

Recently, several relatively young lawyers expressed frustration with the profession and told me that they have been considering leaving the practice of law. Among the reasons given were burnout, the demands of the profession, non-enjoyment of their practice, the need for a change, and the need for something less stressful. Further discussion revealed that among other things they have unfulfilled expectations, lack balance between personal and professional commitments, and are burdened by stress due to such things as time constraints, caseload management, income deficiency, and multiple demands.

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April 30, 2007

Access to Justice – We Are Not There Yet

Access to Justice – We Are Not There Yet

by Gus Chin

Over the years as my family and I have pulled out of the driveway for a vacation trip, or to attend one of the Bar conventions, within minutes our children would ask “Are we there yet? When will we get there?” These same questions apply to and Justice for all’s tireless efforts to provide legal services to individuals in need, especially those who are often the most vulnerable.

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April 26, 2007

A Mid-Term Report

A Mid-Term Report

by Gus Chin

The beginning of the new year marks the midpoint of the 2006-2007 Bar Commission year. I am pleased to report that the Bar is financially sound. The purpose of this mid-term report is to make you aware of some of the issues addressed to date.

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March 7, 2007

Civility, the Hallmark of our Profession

Civility, the Hallmark of our Profession
by Gus Chin

At a recent Bar function I visited with several respected veteran lawyers who commented about how the practice of law has changed over the last couple of decades. While applauding the improvement in technology and other areas, they were rather critical of - among other things - the marked increase in un-professionalism, disrespect for the rules, aggressiveness, as well as incivility. Many reminisced about the days of the so-called gentleman's agreement, a warm handshake despite adversarial positions and where "an attorney's word was considered to be golden."

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October 16, 2005

Many Hands Make Light Work

Many Hands Make Light Work
by David R. Bird

'Many hands make light work' was a favorite saying of my grandmother. This has never been truer than it is at the Utah State Bar. I wish to begin my term as President by thanking each of you who give freely of your time and talents to further the Bar and improve our profession. Without you the organization could do little. If each one of us will help where we can, great results will occur.

There are many important things happening in our Bar. As I write, we have just concluded a very successful Annual Meeting at Sun Valley under the direction of Lauren Scholnick and Michael Petrogeorge and their committee. Elaina Maragakis and Christian Clinger and their committee are hard at work planning next yearÕs meeting to be held July 12-15 in Newport Beach. Mark your calendars and plan to attend it as well as the Fall Forum on November 11, 2005 in Salt Lake City and the Spring Convention, March 9-11, 2006 in St. George.

Three hundred and seventeen people recently took the Bar exam; the largest number ever. The admissions process could not work without the Admissions, Character and Fitness, and Bar Examiners Committees and the staff led by Joni Seko. Much of the work of the Bar is done by standing voluntary committees.

We have twenty such committees and over 550 participating members appointed by the Bar Commission:

Admissions; Annual Meeting; Bar Exam Administration; Bar Examiners; Bar Journal; Character and Fitness; CLE Advisory Board; Client Security Fund; Courts And Judges; Ethics Advisory Opinion; Fee Arbitration; Governmental Relations; Law Related Education and Law Day; Law and Technology; Lawyer Benefits; Lawyers Helping Lawyers; Needs of the Elderly; NLCLE; Spring Convention; and Unauthorized Practice of Law.

If you would like to participate in one of these committees please let me know.

In addition there are 32 different Bar Sections covering most areas of practice. Each Section elects its own officers, collects dues and arranges activities for its members. A list of the Sections, their officers and links to their websites can be found on the Bar's web site: www.utahbar.org under 'Utah Bar Directories.' Section participation exceeds 6500 Bar members. There is no better way to interact informally with colleagues in your practice area. Contact the Bar office if you desire information about joining a Section.

Regional and Specialty Bars also provide opportunities for service and personal satisfaction. Please take note of the Utah Minority Bar Association event scheduled for October 15th to honor the first 50 minority members of the Utah Bar. I hope you will plan to attend as the profession honors these trailblazers.

The Bar Commission comprised of 12 elected, 2 Supreme Court appointed, and 10 ex officio members direct the Bar. These men and women spend countless hours in service to the profession. All do so at considerable monetary sacrifice, but great personal satisfaction. I encourage any Bar member to consider running for the Commission.

Lastly, I would like to express my appreciation for our professional staff led by John Baldwin and Richard Dibblee. These 33 people are dedicated individuals who work each day to make sure our Bar functions smoothly.

Please consider my Grandmother's saying. Share your hands. The personal and professional rewards will be incalculable.

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