Considering the Practice of Law in Utah
Robert O. Rice, J.
As I assume my new position as President of the Utah State Bar, let me say that we Utah lawyers have a good thing going. Yes, lawyering has its downside, including, inter alia, overuse of archaic Latin phrases, billable hours, the occasional obstreperous counsel, bad facts, and tough deadlines. But please allow me to take you on a short tour around the practice of law in Utah, and let us see if you agree that, in the very least, the glass is half full.
First, consider your colleagues. I suspect if you look around your firm, your government office, the courtroom, and even among your opponents in litigation, you see fast friends and good people. Perhaps this explains why many of you responded favorably in a Utah State Bar survey that asked you to score your colleagues' professional and personal traits. Eighty-three percent of you found that your fellow lawyers were almost always or usually professional. Eighty-one percent of you found your colleagues were almost always or usually ethical. And seventy-eight percent of you found your opponents to be almost always or usually courteous. See Dan Jones & Associates, Utah State Bar 2011 survey of Members, compiled on December 21,2011, http://www.utahbar.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/2011_ DanJones_SurveyOfAttorneys.pdf. Granted, these survey results don't reveal perfection. But in a profession that is in large part founded on the principle of zealous representation, the adversarial process, and hard-fought negotiations, these results show that we tend to get along with one another very well, thank you.
Second, we have an excellent judiciary that is a model of efficiency, service, and fairness. In this day and age, clients demand efficient use of their resources, including their litigation budgets. Utah lawyers can tell their clients that in the last five years, the average age of cases pending in our state district courts has dropped from 337 to 183 days. Chief Justice Matthew Durrant, State of the Judiciary (January 25, 2016) at 10, https://www.utcourts.gov/resources/reports/statejudiciary/ 20 l6-StateOfTheJudiciary.pdf. Those are gigantic steps forward.
Stakeholders surveyed recently about their experiences in our state court system nearly unanimously reported that they are treated with courtesy and respect and that they are satisfied with their...