Young Lawyers Division

Publication year2014
Young Lawyers Division
Vol. 27 No. 1 Pg. 60
Utah Bar Journal
February, 2014.

January, 2014.


Scott Powers and Patrick Burt.

The Young Lawyers Division is one of the most active and populous sections of the Utah State Bar. Lawyers admitted to practice in Utah are automatically members of the Young Lawyers Division until they have more than five years of experience or they turn thirty-six, whichever is later. For most young lawyers, the first several years of practice are critical because they set the stage for a lawyer's entire career. Now that we are aging out of the Young Lawyers Division, we would like to share some lessons, observations, and recommendations culled from our combined nearly two decades as young lawyers.

1. Know the law.

Few things frustrate practicing attorneys more than young lawyers who are ignorant of the law in their particular field. Not only does this frustrate your peers, it costs your client money. A young lawyer's relative ignorance in the law can be changed into a strength, however, due to the ever-changing nature of legal precedent. Indeed, we have prevailed on several motions where the opposing counsel relied on an outdated, and inaccurate, version of the statute. Similarly, know the rules. Look at the Rules of Civil Procedure before approaching others with questions and expect the first response to any such question to be "What do the Rules say?" You will be surprised how much is covered by existing rules and statutes.

2. Do not take cases personally.

As an attorney you are required to zealously represent, and advocate for your client. However, taking your client's issues personally can lead to incivility when dealing with opposing counsel and stress in your personal life. Like a boxer, you need to "leave the fight in the ring." If you learn to compartmentalize your zeal, you will be able to sleep easier and maintain beneficial relationships with your fellow attorneys.

3. Your reputation is precious.

Utah is a relatively small bar. Judges talk to each other; lawyers talk to each other; and, clients talk to each other. Treat every business or social interaction with care so as not to offend or burn bridges. A reputation for honesty, professionalism, and proficiency will lead to smoother dealings with opposing counsel, more referrals from fellow attorneys and clients, and more respect from the bench.

4. Do not get discouraged.


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