Young Lawyer Division Archives

July 10, 2012

Estate Planning: A Practice Management Primer

by Matthew L. Mitton

Invest in Yourself
I made a presentation last year to the Young Lawyers Division on practice management tips for new estate planning attorneys. I decided to tailor the presentation around practice management issues rather than to attempt to present a comprehensive primer on estate planning.

I mentioned to this group of new lawyers that the most rewarding thing I do as an estate planning attorney is meet with people with diverse, interesting and challenging needs and objectives. Like many of my colleagues, I am privileged to meet fascinating people who are happy to engage my services. I can’t think of a better way to practice law. I spend most of my days in consultations with clients that range from two to three hours. Why bring this up? I believe it’s critical to understand early in your practice what your strengths and weaknesses are before you find yourself in a state of torment. I know attorneys who don’t enjoy spending hour after hour in consultations with clients; they would rather spend hours in front of the computer drafting estate planning provisions or researching complex tax matters. If you are a technician, find a practice area where those talents and strengths are needed, and where appropriate, find colleagues that can add other dimensions to your practice where you lack.

The greatest complaint clients have expressed to me as they meet with attorneys is the inability to communicate complex legal terms and ideas in a “language” they understand. The estate planning experience can be emotionally charged and complicated to begin with. If the client doesn’t understand how their attorney and counselor at law can solve their legal challenges, the attorney-client relationship will fail and the efficacy of the plan will be at risk over time.

One of the best things that ever happened in my early practice was the opportunity I had to present estate planning topics to countless associations and groups throughout the state. Take every opportunity in your new legal career to speak and teach. Make certain you practice and hone the craft of effective communication. This skill may serve you better than any other skill I know. The other skill new lawyers must fight to develop is the ability to listen when you need to listen. After three years of law school, we are anxious to tell people what we know. In my opinion, the key to every successful estate planning engagement is rooted in your ability to be an empathetic listener and effective communicator. Don’t be afraid to discuss these skills with and solicit honest and constructive feedback from friends and family, or other colleagues.

Invest in Good Forms and CLE
If you are in a well-established firm with an existing estate planning practice group, you probably have great forms at your disposal; however, even the best forms can become outdated over time. Make it a point to review and update forms as a practice group at least once a year, if not more frequently.

In a small firm or solo practice, one of the most critical “practice management” decisions an estate planning attorney will make is choosing solid estate planning software and forms. In a recent conversation I had with a local banker, he remarked that most attorneys in the same geographic area would ultimately draft a “common” or “shared” trust agreement. While that might have been the case years ago, the proliferation of estate planning documents through myriad internet and publishing sources has led to a very robust “forms menu” for lawyers in every imaginable practice. The American Bar Association routinely sells estate planning documents and conducts CLE workshops in this area of practice. Practice management groups like WealthCounsel ( and the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys ( cater to lawyers and firms who not only want forms, but are also willing to pay for assistance in other practice management areas. These companies provide marketing assistance, law firm profitability analysis, case mentoring, and assistance with staffing and ongoing education support. It is not inexpensive to join and pay the monthly dues for this type of service, but each lawyer needs to decide how the “business” of their practice will operate.

The American Bar Association is a great resource for estate planning forms and CLE. You can purchase materials to assist with drafting trusts, wills, powers of attorney, and other estate planning-related documents. I recently discovered a website that “links” together estate planning web sites from around the country ( It was through this website that I found several great estate planning resources that I use almost daily in my practice. Whether I need May’s applicable federal rate or an estate planning contact in Maine, and other websites provide tremendous assistance.

Your ability to stay current, relevant, and educated in this practice area is largely based, in my opinion, on your participation in CLE events. The Salt Lake Estate Planning Council meetings take place the third Wednesday of every month and the Estate Planning Section of the Utah State Bar meets the second Tuesday of each month. Well-established attorneys in this practice area generously share with their colleagues invaluable information that you may not be able to find from any other source. ALI-ABA, NBI, Lorman, and others offer classroom and online CLE events. These sources are fairly expensive, but may offer, in certain circumstances, important information for a complicated case or unique estate planning topics.

Invest in and Design a System
While it’s a cliché to say that we never learned “this or that” in law school, we have the ability to forge our own unique law-practice course. It’s perhaps just as well that no one formula for practicing law is presented in law school. As a new attorney, I was fortunate enough to learn from dozens of seasoned lawyers what it meant to create a “systems-based” practice. In a traditional business environment, a system is typically an unflinching course all employees and management pursue to send a product or service out the front doors. Why should it be any different in a law practice? As a service-oriented practice, an estate planning attorney should create and manage a system that provides a predictable service and product for a client. While every system is different, there are fundamental components that should never be ignored. Another way to approach this is to put ourselves in the client’s shoes and analyze if they have questions like these: After our first consultation, I’m still wondering what’s next? The meeting with the attorney went well, but I am still not sure what it will cost or how long it will take to complete the documents. Should I call the attorney to ask these questions or will a staff member call me to follow up? Once a client begins to ask these and other questions about the engagement, the level of confidence drops and the attorney’s ability to keep a happy client begins to disintegrate.

Creating a system around the entire client relationship not only holds the attorney accountable for the client experience, but just as importantly, it holds the client accountable to participate in a confident and purposeful way. A good system should clearly address questions about fees, how estate planning forms are delivered and completed, the amount of time to complete the project, client-staff interaction, and more. I will say it again, if the client is asking, “I just don’t know what happens next,” the system is broken, or no system exists.

Decide how you will charge your clients. Will you offer a free initial consultation, conduct annual reviews, or bill for phone calls and e-mails? Whatever you decide, make sure you have a clear understanding with your clients, and when appropriate, put it in writing.

Invest in Your Staff
If Kathy or Carie ever leaves my practice, I will retire immediately. Kathy and Carie are members of my staff; however, I view them as my practice partners. My law practice success is directly correlated to the interaction they have with my clients. I spoke earlier about business systems in this article. Kathy and Carie continually guide clients though our estate planning “system” and remind me when I stray from the system we work hard to implement and follow. They have been critical in shaping and changing, as needed, the systems that guide our clients through the estate planning process.

As I mentioned above, the members of your estate planning practice should be performing duties that correspond to their strengths and talents. In other words, let the technician do the technical work in your practice.

While this goes without saying, never, ever forget to offer thanks and words of encouragement to those who make your practice successful. Whether it’s a bonus that was expected or unexpected, flowers during professional assistants’ week, or a sincere expression of gratitude, we need our team members’ help more than they need our help. The respect and appreciation present within a successful practice group will always translate into better client-attorney relationships, practice efficiency and firm profitability.

Finally, I can’t think of a better way to make a living and I certainly can’t think of a better practice area. Good luck.

Young Lawyer of the Year 2011-2012: Gabriel K. White
Each year, the Young Lawyers Division has the difficult job of choosing one recipient from a stack of letters nominating outstanding and deserving candidates for the Young Lawyer of the Year Award. It is inspiring (and humbling) to read about the accomplishments that young lawyers have achieved early in their careers. This year Gabriel (ÒGabeÓ) K. WhiteÕs nomination stood out from the competition. Gabe is one of those rare individuals who has taken to heart the motto ÒSuccess comes to the person who does today what others were thinking about doing tomorrow.Ó Seeing a need go unmet, Gabe acts quickly to address it regardless of any obstacles.

Shortly after graduating from the S.J. Quinney College of Law in 2007, Gabe joined the law firm of Christensen & Jensen. He quickly became a rising star as one of the firmÕs litigation and trial lawyers.

Despite his thriving practice and heavy workload, Gabe has gone out of his way to serve young lawyers and underrepresented minorities. Among his other accomplishments, Gabe single-handedly created the Wednesday Night Bar program through Young Lawyers Division in 2009. Wednesday Night Bar is a semi-monthly legal clinic that provides low-income, Spanish-speaking Utahans with free legal advice. Gabe persisted in holding Wednesday Night Bar even when he was its only volunteer, and he is still a constant presence at the clinic. Under GabeÕs leadership, the program has expanded from the Salt Lake Valley to include hundreds of Utahns throughout Northern and Central Utah. Gabe hopes to eventually grow the program to serve Southern Utah too.

Gabe has also played a pivotal role in bringing the Practice in a Flash CLE Series to Utah. This program is designed to help the record number of young lawyers that are going straight from law school to starting their own practices. In addition to in-person and online free CLE training covering a variety of basic legal issues that young lawyers commonly encounter, Practice in a Flash participants will have access to an online database and flash drives donated by Lexis. The database and flash drive will contain practice forms, practice area specific training, and practical business advice for the small business entrepreneur.

When Gabe is not busy with his practice or saving the world, he loves to spend time with his wife, Wendy, and their daughter, Percy. Together they enjoy traveling.
Thank you Gabe for your service and example.

May 10, 2012

Wills for Heroes: Protecting Those Who Protect Us

by R. Blake Hamilton

I recently attended the S.J. Quinney College of Law Career Fair on behalf of my firm, Stirba & Associates. While I was there, a first-year law student approached me and asked a surprising question. She, like many others in her class, was looking for opportunities to clerk after her first year of law school. Yet when I asked her if she had any questions about my firm, the first question she asked was: “What type of pro bono work does your firm do?” I responded that all attorneys at my firm are encouraged to find opportunities to contribute to the community by providing pro bono legal work. I then proceeded to tell her about one such opportunity that I have had the privilege of participating in.

On September 11, 2001, more than 400 first responders gave their lives to save their fellow Americans. Out of that tragedy arose an amazing program: Wills for Heroes. The Wills for Heroes program provides free wills, living wills, and healthcare and financial powers of attorneys to first responders and their spouses or domestic partners.

Every day, in towns and cities across the nation, including here in Utah, first responders – firefighters, police, and EMTs – put their lives at risk to protect us. We were reminded of this truth on January 4, 2012, when six police officers were shot and one killed while executing a warrant in Ogden, Utah. The Wills for Heroes program allows us as members of the Bar to provide pro bono legal work as an expression of gratitude to those who sacrifice and put themselves in harm’s way to protect their communities – in our small way “protecting those who protect us.” In doing so we are rewarded.

On December 2, 2011, two first responders from Northern Utah were on hand at the Utah State Bar Commission meeting to thank the Commission for the Bar’s Wills for Heroes program. “Sometimes as first responders we’re so busy helping other people that we forget about ourselves,” said Captain Golden Barrett from the Hill Air Force Base Fire Department. “I want to say thank you very much for everything you’ve done for us. It really does make a difference.”

Utah adopted the Wills for Heroes program in 2006, the twelfth state to do so. Since that time, the program has provided free estate planning to more than 4,000 first responders. Volunteer lawyers in Utah have contributed 10,000-plus hours of pro bono legal work at events from Logan to St. George. Wills for Heroes events are scheduled for the third Saturday of every other month. A calendar of future events and further information about the Wills for Heroes program can be found by visiting the Utah State Bar Young Lawyers Division’s (YLD) informational website at

A Wills for Heroes Event is a joint effort between a first responder department and YLD. The first responder department provides a contact person to disseminate information and coordinate appointments. The department also provides a classroom or a conference room with tables and chairs where the event may be held. YLD does the rest.

YLD emails the department contact a Wills for Heroes invitation to be sent to all first responders in the department. The invitation answers many frequently asked questions about the program. The first responders are asked to review and complete an estate planning questionnaire and an advanced health care directive prior to their appointment. By reviewing the questionnaire and directive ahead of time, all participating individuals are likely to consider the important decisions regarding their estate planning wishes with a loved or trusted individual prior to their appointment.

On the day of the Wills for Heroes event, YLD brings laptop computers that have been preloaded with specialized software that takes the questionnaire information and creates the living wills, and healthcare and financial powers of attorneys (all in about thirty minutes). Prior to the appointments with the first responders, YLD holds a training session in which attorney volunteers from the Bar are trained on everything they need to know to participate in this great volunteer opportunity. This training includes how to use the software and a primer on basic estate planning. It also qualifies for one hour of CLE credit (for first-time volunteers). YLD coordinates with the Paralegal Division of the Utah State Bar which ensures that all of the first responders’ estate plans are witnessed and notarized on the day of the event. YLD also provides the printers, paper, and all of the materials needed for the first responders to be able to walk out of their appointments with fully executed legal estate plans.

YLD thanks all those attorneys, paralegals, and the many first responder departments around the state who have made the Wills for Heroes program a success. YLD also looks forward to many years of Wills for Heroes events in the future based on the expressed interest in the program. If you haven’t had an opportunity to participate in the Wills for Heroes program, please find some time to do so. Let us not lose the ideals we had in our first year of law school, for, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

March 6, 2012

Young Lawyers Division

The Green Utah Pledge

by Jon Clyde, Kelly J. Latimer, and Kallie A. Smith

One million two hundred thousand! This is the number of sheets of paper used by Clyde Snow on a yearly basis. This equates to 100,000 sheets of paper each month or 25,000 sheets each week. Lawyers tend to print out everything and rationalize the excessive printing in various ways: “it is just too hard to read double-sided copies” or because “it is easier to edit that way.” Without a doubt, the practice of law is one of the more paper-intensive professions. However, a large number of firms do not purchase recycled paper or recycle used paper. Instead, this paper finds its way to the landfill.

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DUI Law in a Flash

by Philip Wormdahl

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series summarizing CLE presentations given as part of the YLD’s “Practice in a Flash” program.

More than 15,000 DUI arrests were made in Utah during 2010. Roughly two-thirds of those arrests were first-time offenders. With so many citizens facing DUI charges, most lawyers should expect that someone they know will need representation for DUI. Because of the volume of arrests, being able to competently handle a DUI case is a critical skill for attorneys working in criminal defense and a huge asset to attorneys looking to develop and grow their clientele. This article is meant to give a basic overview of the “typical” DUI case by exploring some of the most common procedures, hearings, and issues.

The Offense

Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol and\or Drugs, or “DUI,” is codified at Utah Code section 41-6a-502. See Utah Code Ann. § 41-6a-502 (LexisNexis 2010). The conduct prohibited by the statute is as follows:

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January 12, 2012

Practice in a Flash: Helping Lawyers Hang a Shingle

by Gabriel White

Practice in a Flash is designed to support lawyers moving into solo or small firm practice because of economic circumstances that block traditional avenues of legal employment. It is an electronic platform that will provide new lawyers with basic practice forms, entry level CLE, and other helpful information on how to start and manage a law firm. Once the electronic program is released in the spring of 2012, it will give new lawyers advice on topics such as how to rent and open an office, hire staff, and market themselves to public. Adapted from a similar program in Texas, Practice in a Flash will give young attorneys important resources that can bridge the gap between a law school education and advice from colleagues and mentors.

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September 22, 2009

Young Lawyer Division Celebrates Pro Bono Opportunities

As the Utah State Bar prepares for the upcoming American Bar Association’s (“ABA”) National Pro Bono Celebration October 25-31, 2009,1 I would like to highlight a few of the pro bono and service opportunities offered by the Young Lawyers Division (“YLD”). If you would like to get involved in these or other YLD activities, please visit or contact Michelle Allred at

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July 15, 2009

Thank You to the 2008 - 2009 Young Lawyer Division Executive Council

by Michelle Allred

The Utah State Bar Young Lawyers Division (“YLD”) would like to thank the following attorneys and paralegal liaisons for their tremendous service as volunteer leaders on the YLD Executive
Council during the 2008-2009 bar year. Because of their willingness to devote their time and energy, the YLD offered significant contributions to the Bar and to members of the public through a variety of programs, services, and events.

If you are interested in volunteering with the YLD in the future, please contact Michelle Allred, 2009-2010 YLD President, at For more information about the
YLD, please visit

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May 19, 2008

Wills for Heroes – Providing Valuable Community Service to First Responders

Wills for Heroes – Providing Valuable Community Service to First Responders

The St. George Wills for Heroes Event
On March 14, 2008, members of the Utah State Bar donated their time and talents to create wills and other estate planning documents for police officers, firefighters, and other first responders in the St. George area through a new pro bono program instituted by the Young Lawyers Division and the Wills for Heroes Foundation®.

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November 1, 2007

Young Lawyer’s Division Update

Young Lawyer’s Division Update
by Stephanie Pugsley, Utah YLD President, 2007-2008

The Utah Young Lawyer’s Division has rolled out a sleek new website, and is now offering several new services for its members and the public. The “On Demand Mentor” video presentations, accessed via the website, offer experienced Utah practitioners’ insights on various legal and professional topics. Each ten-minute tutorial provides a concise overview of a selected topic from the presenter’s area of expertise. The new website also links to a YLD Blog that posts current events, upcoming activities, job openings, service projects, and young lawyer achievements. In addition, YLD members, as well as Utah and BYU law students, will receive a concise bi-monthly YLD E-Newsletter designed to keep readers up to date on the latest happenings within the YLD and the Bar.

With the largest membership of any Bar section, the YLD is continually working to assist new lawyers as they begin the practice of law, while keeping important commitments to serve the Utah legal community and the public at large. We invite all members of the Bar to visit and use the new YLD homepage and to join us in our upcoming activities.

April 25, 2007

The Young Lawyer Division in 2007

The Young Lawyer Division in 2007

by David R. Hall

The Young Lawyers Division of the Utah State Bar (the “YLD”) is looking forward to another outstanding year in 2007. With a leadership body made up of five officers, eleven committees, and six liaisons, the YLD continues to make significant contributions to the Bar and the public. The following is a brief overview of the YLD as well as a look at what is planned for the coming year.

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April 4, 2006

2005 Year in Review - Looking Ahead to 2006

2005 Year in Review - Looking Ahead to 2006

2005 was an outstanding year for the Young Lawyers Division of the Utah State Bar ("YLD"). With several committees staffed by capable volunteers, the YLD continues to offer significant contributions to the Bar and the public. Here are some of the 2005 highlights from the YLD committees as well as a look at what is coming up in 2006.

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March 2, 2004

Patrick Tan: The Co-recipient of the 2002-2003 Young Lawyer of the Year Award

Author; Teresa Welch

The Young Lawyer of the Year is awarded annually by the Young Lawyer's Division of the Utah State Bar. One of the most recent recipients of this distinguished award is Patrick Tan, a colleague and friend of mine at the Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association. It is my honor to introduce Patrick Tan to you, and to enlighten you to the various reasons why Patrick is wholly deserving of the 2002-2003 Young Lawyer of the Year award.

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January 2, 2004

Young Lawyers’ Commitment to the Community

Author; Christian W. Clinger, President - Young Lawyers Division

The Young Lawyers Division ("YLD") of the Utah State Bar has had a very productive year in 2003. With its 12 committees, the YLD has given significant contributions to its membership as well as to the public. Here are some of the YLD's highlights since July 2003.

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October 7, 2002

The Young Lawyers' Division Prepares for 2002-2003

The Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the Utah State Bar is gearing up for another year of service to its members and service to the public.

Executive Committee. The executive committee of the YLD has worked hard over the summer, making appointments to chair and co-chair the YLD's various committees, and preparing the handbooks, budgets, directories, and other materials necessary to make the YLD run smoothly. Your officers for 2002-2003 are: Vicky Fitlow, President; Debra Griffiths, Treasurer; Amy Dolce, Secretary; Christian Clinger, President-Elect; Nathan Alder, Past President.

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January 7, 2002

CLE Information for the Regional Conference

In addition to the opportunity of meeting with lawyers from all over the country in a post-Olympic environment that includes the option of world-class snow skiing, this Regional Conference offers a variety of outstanding seminars to meet a wide range of interests, all of which are approved for CLE credit. David Schwendiman, Assistant U.S. Attorney, and author of the Utah Public Safety Command System Book, and Edwin Firmage, professor of law at the University of Utah, a well-known civil rights attorney, will present what is likely to be a lively discussion on the topic of "Public Safety While Protecting Civil Rights and Liberties." The discussion is likely to include, among other things, ideas for implementing additional security in businesses, public areas, and the impacts the tragedies of September 11 have had on security and civil rights.

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November 7, 2001

Utah State Bar Young Lawyers Division 2001 - 2002 Leadership

Utah State Bar Young Lawyers Division 2001 - 2002 Leadership

President: Nate Alder
Treasurer: Christian Clinger
Secretary: Scott Petersen
ABA Rep. Amy Dolce
President Elect: Victoria Coombs Bushnell
Past President: Steve Owens
AOP Co-Chairs:
Stephanie Ames
Mark Quinn

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Join in the YLD

Join in the YLD
by Nate Alder, Young Lawyer Division President

The Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the Utah State Bar is doing great things. The success of the YLD is the result of many volunteers who participate in Ð and direct Ð our Division. It is also a tribute to our history of strong leadership, as well as continued support from the Bar. For a young lawyer, one of the best ways to improve your skills, network, experience leadership, and generally develop as a lawyer is to participate in the YLD.

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August 8, 2001

A Tribute to the Law

EDITOR'S NOTE: Judge Dee Benson is Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Utah. This article was originally delivered as the keynote address at the Law Day luncheon on May 1, 2001, sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division of the Utah State Bar.

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New Young Lawyers Division Officers Elected

Allow me to introduce to you the newly-elected officers of the Bar's Young Lawyers' Division. These five talented individuals will continue the YLD tradition of service to its members, the Bar, and the Community.

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June 8, 2001

A Conversion With Edwin J. Skeen

Editor's Note: In honor of the 70th year of the Utah State Bar, the Bar Journal is presenting brief portraits of some of the most senior members of the Bar, particularly those whose admission to practice law in Utah predates the formation of the Utah State Bar in 1931.

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May 8, 2001

Whaaaaaasuppp With the YLD?

With about 1700 members, the Young Lawyers Division (YLD or "Baby Bar") is the largest and among the most active sections of the Bar. The YLD has been busy this year. Here is an update:

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November 13, 2000

Law Day Address

by Judge Stephen H. Anderson

Two hundred and thirteen years ago the American people solved the problem of reconciling liberty with order by choosing constitutional democracy. That system established a government of laws, including a judicial branch for protecting rights under the law. Ultimate sovereignty remained with the people. The aspirational principles of this system were set out in the Declaration of Independence and the preamble to the Constitution. They claim for each individual the right to life, liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness; and for the nation, a more perfect union, a common defense, domestic tranquility, and promotion of the general welfare. The system rested on our mutual agreement to submit ourselves to the moral authority of the law. Thus, under and by the rule of law, we arranged for a responsible freedom in this nation. The Supreme Court has described this arrangement as ordered liberty.

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Introduction to the Young Lawyers Division

by Stephen W. Owens

Let me introduce you to the Young Lawyers Division (“YLD” or “Baby Bar”) of the Utah State Bar. You are automatically a member of the YLD if you are in your first three years of practice or until you are 36 (whichever is longer). I invite you to become active in the YLD and the Bar in general.

The YLD is the largest and one of the most active divisions of the Utah State Bar. We provide continuing legal education, opportunities for social and professional interaction, and charitable community service. Being active in the YLD is a fun way to get involved in the Bar and to develop as a member of our profession.

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About Young Lawyer Division

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Utah Bar Journal in the Young Lawyer Division category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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