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.
Patrick’s choice to be an attorney stems from personal and emotional experiences. Patrick grew up speaking English, Cantonese, and Mandarin, and although he is fluent in all of these languages, Patrick has witnessed the struggles of family members and friends who are not as well versed in the English language. Specifically, Patrick remembers an incident in which a couple of close family members found themselves in a legal quagmire because they had signed what they thought was a guest book, only to find out that their signatures committed them to a steep financial obligation. The misunderstanding was eventually cleared up, but the impact of it on Patrick was the beginning of a new focus in life for him. From this experience, Patrick realized that not only is our legal system very complicated, but it is twice as complicated if English is one’s second language. He decided at that point that he wanted to spend his life in a career in which he could help out the “underdogs” in life.
Patrick attended the University of Utah where he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and obtained his Juris Doctorate Degree. While in law school, Patrick worked for a handful of nonprofit legal agencies, including the Multi-Cultural Legal Center, the Disability Law Center, and Utah Legal Services. In 1999, Patrick was awarded the Utah Legal Services Law Student Volunteer of the Year. During law school, Patrick also spent time working at the United States Attorneys’ Office and the South Salt Lake City Attorneys’ Office. Working at these various places allowed Patrick to assist an ethnically diverse pool of clients in issues related to disability law, housing and public benefit law, criminal law, employment law, disability law, and immigration law.
Upon graduating from law school, Patrick was employed at Utah Legal Services (ULS). While working at ULS, Patrick handled a case load of public benefit cases and assisted in the housing unit when requested. He participated in possession bond eviction hearings and public benefit administrative hearings. He also managed the street law (legal clinic) sites, and oversaw pro bono attorneys and law students who were working on domestic law cases in conjunction with the Utah State Bar’s Pro Bono Project.
Since July 2003, Patrick has been working as a trial attorney in the misdemeanor division at the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association (LDA). Patrick is happy with this new position as he has always wanted to work in criminal law. Regarding his experiences at LDA, Patrick states: “The spirit of teamwork and cooperation at LDA is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and I am very proud to be a part of it. I attribute this positive chemistry to LDA Executive Director F. John Hill who does the hiring, and to Patrick Anderson who supervises the misdemeanor division. Don’t get me wrong, the job is grueling and the case load is huge, but the rewards of a grateful client or a supportive colleague helping me out at a pretrial calender makes it worthwhile to go to work each day.”
Patrick fills his spare time as an executive board member of both the Asian Association of Utah and the Multi-Cultural Legal Center. He is also co-chair of the Needs of Children committee of the Young Lawyer’s Division under the direction of Christian Clinger, the Young Lawyer’s Division President. Patrick is involved in assisting with public relations for the Utah Indochina Chinese Benevolence Society, and is a trained mediator for the Salt Lake City Corporation Weed and Seed Program. Recently, Tan also assisted as a Judge Pro Tem for the Salt Lake City Justice Court presiding over small claims matters.
In all of his endeavors Patrick is continually committed to helping out the “underdogs” in life. By devoting his energies to people who struggle with financial difficulties, language barriers, and various disabilities, Patrick is devoted to helping out the less fortunate in life. Congratulations to Patrick Tan for being the co-recipient of the 2002-2003 Young Lawyer of the Year award!