President's Message, 1019 UTBJ, Vol. 32, No. 5. 8

AuthorHerm Olsen, J.
PositionVol. 32 5 Pg. 8

President's Message

No. Vol. 32 No. 5 Pg. 8

Utah Bar Journal

October, 2019

September, 2019


Herm Olsen, J.

All of us stand on the shoulders of giants in one form or another. As I assume the responsibility of serving fellow Bar members throughout the state, I reflect on the guidance and accomplishments of those who preceded me.

Take a moment. No. Really. Take a moment and consider who grew your soul, who built your heart and character throughout your life. On whose shoulders do you stand, even now? In my world, it was Miss Veda Sorenson, my second grade teacher at Wilson Elementary School in Logan. She was kind and trusted me. She believed in me and helped me believe in myself. It was also a gentle (and terribly patient) wife, Norma, who tolerated my eccentricities over the decades. And it was, more distantly, Abraham Lincoln.

In a letter of censure to a young officer accused of quarreling with another, President Lincoln wrote:

Quarrel not at all. No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention. Still less can he afford to take all the consequences including the [corrupting] of his temper, and the loss of self-control. Better to give your path to a dog than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite.

Wait, what? Give in? Even if you're right? How does that square with our duty and moral obligation to zealously protect the rights of our client? Didn't ole Abe know about such duties?

I think he did. And I think he was saying that as to the petty stuff, on the inconsequential matters of a dispute between parties, holding bull-dog tight on the minor issues, an attorney can damage the clients' position (and certainly the clients' pocketbook) more by contesting small matters than conceding them.

I remain amazed at this man Lincoln. He spent his career as an attorney, jockeying and jostling in the legal arena. He rose in the rough and tumble world of politics where personal attacks were utterly vicious - dwarfing even the nastiness and attacks which are traded these days in Washington D.C. as daily fare. Yet, he counseled forbearance, compassion, and personal decency.

I'm reminded of an attorney in Logan, one in Ogden, and another in South Salt Lake City, and another..., who would spend $ 100 of their clients' money on a $10 issue. The attorney would then...

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