In Dave Letterman-like fashion, for my final “President’s Message,” I would like to share ten great things about being a Utah lawyer. It’s good to remind ourselves about the positive side of our profession.
10. The attorney-to-population ratio is (slightly) higher in Utah than the teacher-to-student ratio and higher than the national average.
As of May 31, 2015, there were 11,838 licensed attorneys in Utah (9,148 active; 2,690 inactive). This is an increase of 201 from May 31, 2014. The population in Utah is about 3 million. So, there is approximately one Utah lawyer for every 253 Utah residents. There are approximately 1,294,000 lawyers in the
United States, with a national population of 319 million (1 to 247 ratio).
9. Utah is the only state where you can try a case and be related to both the plaintiff and the defendant, opposing counsel, the judge, the bailiff, and half the jury pool.
Okay, this point (from Bar Commissioner Susanne Gustin) may be a slight exaggeration, especially in Salt Lake County. But if you try a case in a rural county, it often takes a while to pick a jury because so many people either know each other or are related. (Those aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive categories; many don’t know their relatives.)
8. Two excellent law schools.
We are very fortunate and can be proud of our two top ranked Utah law schools. The Bar enjoys a very positive working relationship with both law schools. Dean Bob Adler of the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah and Dean Jim Rasband of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University are both great assets and are active ex-officio members of the Bar Commission.
7. Great public outreach programs such as Wills for Heroes, And Justice for All, Tuesday Night Bar, the Pro Bono Commission, and the Modest Means Lawyer Referral Program.
We have a great tradition in our Bar of being generous with our time and money to help provide legal services to those who can’t afford to hire counsel. Mike Walch put it this way: “Utah lawyers are more concerned with clients and community and less concerned with themselves than lawyers from the other two states where I’m licensed.” Lou Callister gave this reflection after fifty-four years of practicing law in Utah: “Because of the legal training we receive in law school we are better able to make contributions to society, outside the practice of law, that benefit the community at large and people in particular.”
6. Wonderful clients.
Utah Lawyers get to meet and interact with some amazing people in challenging problem-solving situations. Brian Burnett observed that we have the “opportunity to evaluate life in six-minute increments.” Most clients exhibit great courage and dignity when facing their legal troubles. It’s a privilege to help clients resolve their problems. It’s inspiring to watch them do so with their head held high. As problem-solving partners with our clients, we share ownership in their legal problems, victories, and defeats. Being an advocate may add gray hairs, but observing firsthand the positive traits of our clients makes it worthwhile.