Court Beefs Up Website Information to Address Adult Guardianship Matters

June 7, 2013 (801) 578-3994
Cell: (801) 712-4545


Salt Lake City, UT-The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has published more than 30 pages of information on its website about issues relating to adult guardianship and conservatorship. The information is available at www.utcourts under the Self-Help Resources heading/Life Planning and Probate/Guardianships and Conservatorships. The website information covers a broad range of topics including banking, healthcare decisions, and record keeping decisions as well as community resources.

A guardianship matter is when the court appoints an individual or institution to make decisions on behalf of a person who is incapacitated, while a conservator is appointed to handle the financial affairs for someone who is incapacitated. An individual can be appointed in both roles.

The website addition is another effort by the court to protect an individual’s independence despite diminished capacity. In 2011, the Utah Judicial Council established a Court Visitor Volunteer pilot program to protect vulnerable adults from abuse, exploitation, neglect, and selfneglect.

In any given year, there are about 1,500 new adult guardianship and conservatorship petitions filed in Utah. At any given time, there are about 12,000 active cases. These numbers are projected to grow. Utah’s State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias estimates that the number of Utahns with Alzheimer’s disease – about 32,000 in 2010 – will increase by about one-quarter by 2020, and that by 2025 the number will have increased by 56 percent to about 50,000.The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that Utah has the highest per capita increase of Alzheimer’s disease cases in the country. The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget estimates that the number of Utahns age 65 and older – about 250,000 in the 2010 census – will increase by approximately one-third by 2020 and by 2030 the number will more than double.


Notice of Proposed Amendments to Utah Court Rules

The Supreme Court invites comments to proposed amendments to the following court rules. The comment period expires July 31, 2013.

Summary of proposed amendments

Revises the rules to more thoroughly address problems with misleading and inaccurate lawyer advertising, both potential and existing, in order to better protect the public. The changes are designed to help lawyers comply with the new rules, as they are more specific than current requirements. The basic components of the proposed rules provide fuller definitions of what constitutes false and misleading legal service communications. The proposed rules would tie compliance requirements to the Bar’s annual licensing renewal form. The new rules would require the lawyers to annually submit any Universal Resource Locator (URL) they use in advertising and to submit such advertising as mass mailings. There is no requirement for prior review of any advertising.

RPC 07.01. Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services. Amend.

RPC 07.02. Advertising. Amend.

RPC 07.02A. Filing Requirements for Public Advertisements and Written, Recorded, Electronic, or Other Digital Solicitations. New.

RPC 07.02B. Advertising Review Committee; Pre-dissemination Review. New.

How to view redline text of the proposed amendments

To see proposed rule amendments and submit comments, click on this link to: Then click on the rule number.

How to submit comments

You can comment and view the comments of others by clicking on the “comments” link associated with each body of rules. It’s more efficient for us if you submit comments through the website, and we encourage you to do so. After clicking on the comment link, you will be prompted for your name, which we request, and your email address which need not be your real address. This is a public site. Time does not permit us to acknowledge comments, but all will be considered.

After submitting your comment on the webpage, you probably will get an error message, but your comment has been delivered to a buffer, and I will publish it at the earliest opportunity.

Submit comments directly through the website or to:

Tim Shea
Email: Please include the comment in the message text, not in an attachment.
Fax: 801-578-3843
Administrative Office of the Courts
POB 140241
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-0241

One method of submitting a comment is sufficient.

Message from the Chair

by Danielle Davis
As the new Chair of the Paralegal Division, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the 2011-2012 Board of Directors and myself.
Chair-Elect – Thora Searle attended Weber State University and has spent thirty-three years working in the legal field. She worked as a legal assistant to William Thomas Thurman at McKay, Burton & Thurman for twenty-one years and currently works as a Judicial Assistant to Judge Thurman at the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Utah. She has served several terms as a Director of the Legal Assistant Division/Paralegal Division of the Utah State Bar serving several years as the Secretary and the Membership Chair. Thora’s husband of forty-eight years passed away in January of this year so her time outside of work is devoted to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandson. She loves to spend time with them and enjoys watching them participate in soccer, softball, dance, and tumbling.

Region II Director – J. Robyn Dotterer, CP has worked as a paralegal for over twenty years and has been with Strong & Hanni for eleven years. She works with Paul M. Belnap, Stuart H. Schultz, and Andrew D. Wright in the areas of insurance defense in personal injury, insurance bad faith, and legal malpractice litigation. Robyn achieved her Certified Paralegal Degree in 1994 and is a Past President of the Legal Assistants Association of Utah. She has served on the Paralegal Division Board in several different capacities, served as a Director-at-Large, and was co-chair of the Community Service Committee and the Young Lawyer Division (YLD) Liaison for several years. Robyn is excited to be back on the Board and is looking forward to getting to know the new Division and Board members. Robyn has been married to Duane Dotterer for thirty-seven years and lives in Sandy, Utah.
Region III Director (Secretary) – Jennifer Nakai, ACP serves the counties of Juab, Millard, Utah, Wasatch, Duchesne, Uintah, and Daggett. She has worked in the legal field since 1986 and currently works as a paralegal in the Investigations Division at the Utah County Attorney’s Office. Jennifer has an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies and is working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice at Utah Valley University. She is a Certified Paralegal through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and also has an Advanced Certified Paralegal designation in Trial Practice.
Region IV Director – Colleen Wrigley is a paralegal with the firm of Clarkson Draper & Beckstrom in St. George.
Director at Large – Heather Allen is a paralegal at Ray Quinney & Nebeker (RQN). She has been with RQN since August 2010 and prior to that she was a paralegal at Snell & Wilmer since 2005. Heather works in product liability, personal injury/wrongful death actions, both defense and plaintiff. She graduated from Utah Valley University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies and a minor in Psychology. She is also involved in the community as a volunteer at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray for the parent support group associated with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. (more…)

Mission of the Utah State Bar

by Robert L. Jeffs
To represent lawyers in the State of Utah and to serve the public and the legal profession by promoting justice, professional excellence, civility, ethics, respect for and understanding of the law.
As President of the Bar, I have reflected on the Bars Mission almost daily. I dont know which of our Bar leaders had the foresight to pen those words, but I think it captures the essence of the goal I hope we all individually and collectively strive to achieve.

By the time you read this message, my term as President of the Utah State Bar will be coming to a close. I can honestly report to you that I have thoroughly enjoyed serving the Bar and its members. Having experienced Bar staff and dedicated Commissioners to work with makes the job of Bar President manageable. That is not to say I didnt get my share of irritating calls from the public complaining about the questionable pedigree of their lawyer or berating me about the injustice of the justice system and demanding that as Bar President, I need to change the law, remove a judge, or disbar their opposing counsel. I also received my share of calls or e-mails from myopic Bar members who believe the Bar is nothing more than a pestilence, that the Bars Mission is misguided. Instead, they advocate that the Bar should not promote ethics, professionalism, or service to the public. But those calls come with the territory. Nevertheless, I suspect my wife and law partners will appreciate more than I that my term is up. Soon I will turn the reins over to the able leadership of Rod Snow and Lori Nelson.
Like many of the members of the Utah State Bar, I was drawn to the profession not by the prospect of wealth or status, but by a desire to serve society and the public. Of course, I had the advantage of coming from a family of attorneys, so I knew first hand that the practice of law is not a road to riches. In a recent meeting I attended with leaders from the Montana Bar they related to me that median income for attorneys in Montana is between $50,000 and $70,000 and starting salaries average about $36,000. I suspect the economic realities for the attorneys of Utah are not much different. For most of us, the practice of law presents an opportunity to make a modest income while providing a valuable service to the community. As Bar President, I have had the chance to see the myriad hours of service provided to the public and the profession by our members. The service we provide can take many forms, such as traditional pro bono representation, service on committees and sections, as well as service on municipal or state government. I want to thank all of the members who volunteer their time either in Bar service, governmental office, or pro bono service.
The conference I referred to earlier included a report by the ABAs World Justice Project. Part of the work done by the World Justice Project included an assessment of the access to justice in many of the nations of the world. Some of those findings were very disturbing, showing that the United States is not the leader as I would have expected. The U.S. judicial system is still a model for other nations. Unfortunately, the United States ranks last of the eleven nations in its income group in access to civil justice. (more…)

Civility Matters

by Robert L. Jeffs
Sitting in a deposition of an opposing party, I run through the options available to me as opposing counsel makes his tenth speaking objection designed to coach the witness on how he should respond to my question. I have already asked my colleague to limit his objections pursuant to the Rules of Civil Procedure. My options include: 1) reach across the table and constrict opposing counsel’s windpipe so no more sound comes out; 2) inform counsel that if he continues to coach his client, he will do so without his front teeth; 3) comment on opposing counsel’s pedigree and invite him to meet me at the Courthouse to continue our discussion. Recognizing that my list of options may be influenced by my rising temperature, I decide I should take a recess to reconsider my options.

Fortunately, the break gives me the chance to remember that civility is a two-way street. After I calm down, I am able to formulate a more rational response that actually defuses the situation rather than escalating it. Not only did I avoid behavior that might reflect badly on the profession, my client benefitted from not incurring attorneys’ fees in a dispute tangential to the matter being litigated.
Concerns of civility and the tempering of speech that is discordant or contentious have received a substantial amount of both national and local attention in recent months. Highlighted by the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and Federal Judge John Roll, the nation seems truly interested in promoting civility. Locally, Mayor Becker of Salt Lake City and Lt. Governor Greg Bell co-chair the Utah Civility and Community 2011 Initiative. Former Utah Bar President Steve Owens sits on that Initiative on behalf of the Utah State Bar.
As the members of the Bar know, the Utah Courts and the Utah State Bar were on the forefront of the issue, adopting the Utah Standards of Professionalism and Civility several years ago. Lawyers have always held themselves to high standards of professionalism and ethical conduct. The Standards of Professionalism and Civility provide practical guidance for our day-to-day interaction with other attorneys, the Court and the public. The media enjoys portraying attorneys as a caricature, emphasizing aggressive, rude, or unethical behavior. I am proud to report that most of the attorneys I have the pleasure to deal with are defined more by their collegiality, professionalism, courtesy, and ethical conduct.
Many members of the Bar or the Court have written or spoken about those Standards of Professionalism and Civility. Hopefully, all of the members of the Bar are now familiar with the Standards and strive to incorporate the principles into their practice. I wish I were always a model of Professionalism and Civility. Unfortunately, at times I succumb to the pressures of a busy litigation practice and the contention inherent in our work and stray from those principles. I know I am not alone. I have on occasion been on the receiving end of uncivil or unprofessional conduct. But when I reflect on those occasions, I come to the realization that often my own conduct, my frustration, my anger or impatience played a significant role in escalating the problem rather than diffusing the situation. (more…)

The Pro Se Quandary

by Robert L. Jeffs
On October 13, over 300 new attorneys were admitted to practice in Utah. With the economic downturn, many law firms have curtailed hiring and, in some circumstances, laid off attorneys. As a result, the numbers of unemployed and underemployed attorneys, as well as attorneys who are trying to establish a new practice, have swelled.

While the decision of firms to limit their hiring may be due, in part, to decreases in demand for certain types of legal services, the demand for legal services in Utah in areas such as divorce, bankruptcy, etc. is actually increasing, as reflected in the substantial increase in court filings. In addition, the courts are being inundated with pro se litigants. That flood of pro se litigants bogs down the courts as the clerks’ offices and courts try to shepherd cases without the expertise of attorneys. Other areas of practice such as foreclosures, loan workouts and modifications, collections, and business liquidations, to name a few, have also experienced increased demand. Yet, those same potential clients see our services as unattainable and beyond their means.
Programs and services like public defenders, Utah Legal Services, Legal Aid of Utah, the Disability Law Center, and Tuesday Night Bars throughout the state provide some limited legal representation for the poorest members of our community. But, for a large segment of the middle class, obtaining affordable legal services is more difficult. To an increasing segment of society, we are becoming less relevant.
Real or imagined, we are increasingly perceived by consumers as a service only available to the wealthy. I do not believe that the public perceives that attorneys are not needed to access the judicial process. On the contrary, the judicial system, with its abundant rules and procedures, as well as the mass of laws that govern a particular dispute, makes the services of an attorney exceedingly valuable, if not essential. But, therein lies the frustration of the public. Steve Burt, a perceptive public member of the Bar Commission, expresses this frustration well with the observation that the judicial system is the only branch of government that “requires” an attorney for public access. Even if it does not “require” an attorney to access the courts, it is difficult without an attorney. There is a real danger that this frustration may result in changes to allow non-lawyers to represent individuals and businesses in areas currently requiring attorney representation.
I believe that our profession has an obligation to provide a means for the public to obtain more affordable legal services, and to assist the public in accessing the judicial system. Society is better served if our profession provides counsel and direction in the formation of business arrangements, in the formulation of estate plans, and in the myriad of other services that we provide. Our profession will reap long-term benefits by broadening the base of clients that enjoy legal representation. In addition, the efficiency of the courts would be improved if more litigants before them had attorneys representing them. I am not suggesting that the public has a right to legal representation without the obligation to pay a reasonable amount for those services. Rather, if we want to preserve our judicial system, and our right to practice our profession, we should have programs in place that make available reduced-cost legal representation for those with modest or limited means. (more…)

New Lawyer Training Program:First Year of Implementation

by Tracy Gruber
Once again, the Utah State Bar is expanding its membership, admitting over 300 new lawyers in October 2010. Fortunately, these newly-minted members of the bar will not be alone as they embark on the next stage of their professional development. The experienced members of the bar will be there to guide, assist, and mentor the new lawyers through the New Lawyer Training Program (NLTP).

It is difficult for the new lawyer to face the reality that law school does not fully prepare recent graduates to practice law. After all, three years of intensive study, up to $100,000 in expenses, typically in the form of student loans, not to mention the many stressful months of preparing for the bar exam should prepare one for the profession. However, numerous studies continue to demonstrate that despite successfully teaching legal doctrine and analyses, and preparing one to “think like a lawyer,” law schools consistently fall short in providing the skills necessary for new lawyers to practice. The nature of the modern legal education is such that practical legal skills training is not the focus of the law school curriculum. Although this focus is changing with the expansion of law school clinical and externship programs, limited access to these programs for law students has failed to address the problem.
Brigham Young University Professor and member of the Supreme Court Committee on New Lawyer Training, James Backman, recently noted that law students are able to gain access to practical legal training through a variety of avenues, including law school clinical programs, externships, and summer clerkships. See James Backman, Externships and New Lawyer Mentoring: The Practicing Lawyer’s Role in Educating New Lawyers, 24 BYU J. Pub. 65, 73 (2009). However, these experiences are open to a limited number of students due to cost and the exclusive and competitive nature of summer clerkships, where typically only the top twenty percent of students are accepted into these programs. See id. at 73-74.
Although some large national firms attempt to address the training gap by establishing practical legal training programs for new associates, most firms continue to be unwilling to make the financial investment necessary to establish these programs. Moreover, training programs in firms are only open to a small number of new lawyers, particularly during this current economic time when the majority of new lawyers are working in small firms or as solo practitioners with no access to practical legal training. This piecemeal approach to training is insufficient in preparing new lawyers for the practical demands of the profession.
The inadequacy with which the gap in legal training is being addressed has led bars, with the encouragement and support of the judiciary, to develop uniform and regulated mentoring programs for new attorneys. Although there has not been one solution successfully addressing the disconnect between the law school emphasis on legal theory and the skills and experiences needed to handle clients, bars are turning to one-on-one mentoring. Historically, mentoring has been an effective method of training lawyers in the culture, standards, and skills of the profession. (more…)

Mandatory CLE Rule Change

Effective January 1, 2008, the Utah Supreme Court adopted the proposed amendment to Rule 14-404(a) of the Rules and Regulations Governing Mandatory Continuing Legal Education to require that one of the three hours of “ethics or professional responsibility” be in the area of professionalism and civility. Should you have questions regarding your CLE compliance, please contact Sydnie Kuhre, MCLE Board Director at or (801) 297-7035.
Rule 14-404. Active Status Lawyers
(a) Active status lawyers. Commencing with calendar year 2008, each lawyer admitted to practice in Utah shall complete, during each two-calendar year period, a minimum of 24 hours of accredited CLE which shall include a minimum of three hours of accredited ethics or professional responsibility. One of the three hours of ethics or professional responsibility shall
be in the area of professionalism and civility. Lawyers on inactive status are not subject to the requirements of this rule.

Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee Seeks Applicants

The Utah State Bar is currently accepting applications to fill vacancies on the 14-member Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee. Lawyers who have an interest in the Bar’s ongoing efforts to resolve ethical issues are encouraged to apply.
The charge of the Committee is to prepare and issue formal written opinions concerning the ethical issues that face Utah lawyers. Because the written opinions of the Committee have
major and enduring significance to members of the Bar and the general public, the Bar solicits the participation of lawyers who can make a significant commitment to the goals of the Committee and the Bar.

If you are interested in serving on the Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee, please submit an application with the following information, either in résumé or narrative form:
• Basic information, such as years and location of practice,
type of practice (large firm, solo, corporate, government,
etc.) and substantive areas of practice, and
• a brief description of your interest in the Committee, including
relevant experience, ability and commitment to contribute to
well-written, well-researched opinions.
Appointments will be made to maintain a Committee that:
• Is dedicated to carrying out its responsibility to consider ethical
questions in a timely manner and issue well-reasoned and
articulate opinions, and
• includes lawyers with diverse views, experience and background.
If you want to contribute to this important function of the Bar,
please submit a letter and résumé indicating your interest by
September 25, 2009 to:
Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee
C/O Christy J. Abad, Executive Secretary
Utah State Bar
645 South 200 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Utah Tax Review Commission to Meet

On Friday, May 1st, 2009 at 1:00pm the Utah Legislature will be hosing a meeting of the Utah Tax Review Commission. This meeting is currently scheduled to be held in room 445 of the State Capitol. The agenda for the meeting is below.
Utah Tax Review Commission
Utah Legislature
Friday, May 1, 2009 • 1:00 p.m. • Room 445 State Capitol
1. TRC Business

  • Call to Order
  • Approval of minutes of January 15, 2009 and February 18, 2009 meetings
  • Update on Severance Tax Collections and Deposits into the Permanent State Trust Fund
  • 2. Review of Tax Related Legislation Enacted During the 2009 General Session
    3. Review of Study Items for the 2009 Interim

  • Sales and Use Tax Study Required Under Section 59-12-104.5
  • Follow Up on September 2008 Request from Governor Huntsman
  • Request from Chairs of Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee
  • Definition of Business Income
  • Foreign Sales Corporation
  • Clarifying Definition of Residency Under the State Individual Income Tax
  • Other Study Items
  • 4. Overview of Cigarette and Tobacco Products Excise Taxes

  • Overview of Tax Structure, Use of Revenue, and Rate, Base, and Revenue Trends – Phil Dean, Policy Analyst
  • Invited Public Comment
  • TRC Discussion and Direction for Future Action
  • 5. Other Items / Adjourn

  • 2009 Meeting Schedule
  • It is the belief of the Bar leadership that the Professional Services Tax study committee will be included in the ‘Other Study Items’ portion of the agenda. If there are any changes to this agenda they may be found at the Utah Legislature website located at the website below. (Minutes and an audio recording of the meeting will also be uploaded to this location. )
    PDF files that are labeled as supporting information for the meeting may be downloaded from this link
    and a list of Tax Bills passed during the 2009 general session may be found here
    The Utah State Bar has a section of its website dedicated to tracking this issue located at

    The Young Lawyer

    Federal Judge Dee Benson Will Speak at Law Day 2001 Luncheon at the Grand America Hotel
    The Utah State Bar and guests will recognize Law Day 2001 on May 1st, highlighted by a luncheon at 12:00 noon at the new Grand America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.

    The Honorable Chief Judge Dee V. Benson, United States District Court for the District of Utah, will be the key note speaker. Judge Benson has served on the Federal bench since 1991 when he was appointed by President Bush. Prior to that, Judge Benson served as legal counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1984 to 1986, as Senator Orrin Hatch’s Chief of Staff from 1986 to 1988, and as United States Attorney from 1989 to 1991. For Law Day 2001, Judge Benson is expected to speak on the origins of Law Day. Judge Benson is always a popular speaker whose comments are certain to educate as well as entertain.
    The luncheon will be sponsored in part by Lexis-Nexis and held at the soon-to-open Grand America Hotel. The Grand America will be the first five-star hotel in Salt Lake City. Although the hotel will not be fully operational and open until later in the summer, this event will be one of the very first opportunities the public will have to see the hotel.
    Awards will be presented to members of the legal community as well as to high school students chosen as winners of the Law in the Community essay and art competitions.
    Please RSVP by April 25, 2001, by check for $30, made out to the Utah Bar, and mailed to Attn: Richard Dibblee, Utah State Bar Law Day Luncheon, 645 South 200 East, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111.