Winter 2015 President’s Message – Amy Sorenson

“Well, that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

-Garrison Keillor

2014-2015 SLCBA President Amy Sorenson

2014-2015 SLCBA President Amy Sorenson

Come partner-making season, the other offices of my law firm have a tendency to accuse the Salt Lake City office of assessing our partner candidates like Garrison Keillor does the children of Lake Wobegon – that is, all the Salt Lake City office partner candidates are above average.  From my point of view, however, the problem is not that they aren’t, but that they are.  In fact, the math works out just fine, once you dwell for a moment or two on what a special place Salt Lake City is to practice law, and the outsized opportunities it presents for professional development.  Allow me a few examples of the outstanding upcoming events available to those of us lucky enough to live and practice law here.

This week, no less a figure than United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will visit Salt Lake City, and 500 people have signed up to hear her remarks at the Marriott Downtown at City Creek on January 29th. (Take a look herein for Kate Conyers’ excellent review of Justice Sotomayor’s inspiring early life biography, My Beloved World.)  This fall, Salt Lake City will play host to the 2015 Federal Bar Association’s Annual Meeting and Convention at the Little America Hotel, September 10 through 12.  The FBA will welcome hundreds of lawyers and judges from all over the country, and the FBA is actively soliciting local speakers.  If you are interested in being considered as a speaker, please contact Peggy Hunt, President of the Utah Chapter of the FBA, at, for the application form and details.

The next month, October 7 through 11, 2015, Salt Lake City welcomes the 2015 National Association of Women Judges Conference, and hundreds more distinguished jurists and lawyers from throughout the United States and the world will descend on Salt Lake City’s Grand America Hotel.  There are many ways to get involved in this conference.  If you are interested in being a sponsor or in learning about more opportunities to support the NAWJ Conference, or just in attending, please contact Tammy Georgelas,, or Margaret Niver McGann,, for details.  The National Association of Women Judges has been a leader since its founding in issues concerning judicial independence, diversity and fairness in the courts, equal access to justice, and combatting human trafficking.

In the near term, keep an eye out for more outstanding CLE opportunities from your Salt Lake County Bar, including another after work art-meets-law CLE like the one we hosted this past October, the screening of the award-winning Olympic documentary “Ready to Fly” (see Clem Landau’s great summary inside if you missed the event itself), the Trialapalooza/Appealapalooza judicial lunch Q&A CLEs, and much, much more.

In the meantime, and again as Garrison would advise, “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.”

Fall 2014 President’s Message – Amy Sorenson


2014-2015 SLCBA President – Amy Sorenson

Probably like many of you, this past month, I’ve been dropping my kids off at their new school.  The classrooms are sunny and perfectly organized, there are neat rows of hooks for backpacks lining the halls, and inspirational quotations on the walls greet the students every morning.  Walking with them to their classrooms, I am filled not only with gratitude, but with something awfully close to . . . envy.  The rhythm of the school year, its promise of a fresh start, of reunions with old friends and encounters with the new, the take-it-to-the-bank inevitability of growth and change, belonging.  These happy certainties can seem awfully distant at least from law firm life, if not from the life of the law generally.

But perhaps our world, the daily work of lawyers and judges, of attending or conducting hearings, drafting pleadings, and managing client meetings and calls, needn’t be so far removed from the intellectual growth, bright new beginnings, new and old friends, and sense of community associated with the school year.  To me, membership in professional associations — like the Salt Lake County Bar Association – has always provided the working world equivalent.

In this regard, the Salt Lake County Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education Committee – Judge Michele Christiansen, Chris Hogle, Clem Landau, Kristy Larsen, and Rita Cornish – puts together, year after year, an incredible roster of CLE events that do nothing less than expand your substantive knowledge, your perspective, and your connections.  If you don’t believe me, I invite you to join us at our next “Trialapalooza” or “Appealapalooza” CLE for an informal lunch discussion with one of our fine trial or appellate judges seated at each table of attendees.

Of course, there’s more to school than learning, and acknowledging milestones is as important as the knowledge gained throughout the year.  On October 23, the Salt Lake County Bar Association celebrates promising new beginnings with our annual New Lawyers, New Judges reception at The Alta Club.  The event is an outstanding way to welcome our newest colleagues to the profession and to celebrate the accomplishments and dedication of some of our most experienced professional friends, as they take their places as the newest Utah judges.

On December 5, the Salt Lake County Bar Association will host another of our much anticipated annual traditions – the Holiday Party at the beautiful Salt Lake Country Club.  In the hands of the Salt Lake County Bar’s incredibly able Socials Committee – Jonathan Pappasideris, Mark Kitrell, Sam Meziani, and Jennifer Mastrorocco – events like these have become beloved ways to mark the passage of another year with your friends and colleagues and to celebrate the holidays.

Through our Art and the Law program, the Salt Lake County Bar Association promotes public awareness of the rule of law and our system of justice by sponsoring an annual art contest in our local elementary and middle school classes, depicting the ABA’s annual Law Day theme.  Winners are chosen by our state court judges, who volunteer for duty and well appreciate the learning process the students go through in taking an often abstract theme – last year’s was “American Democracy and the Rule of Law:  Why Every Vote Matters” − and conveying it visually.  Jack Nelson and Blakely Denny are heading up the Art and the Law program this year, and we expect another great group of submissions from schools across the county.

There’s a lot more to look forward to in this year of your Salt Lake County Bar membership, of course – we have incredibly dedicated executive committee members committed to keeping our community informed by producing this excellent newsletter and heading up our social media and membership drive efforts, as two more examples − but this course syllabus would be far too long if I tried to capture it all.

Thank you for your membership in the Salt Lake County Bar association, and if I or any of the officers of the Salt Lake County Bar Association can serve you better, please call.  Unlike my kids, I can’t promise you’ll be taller at the end of the year, but we are proud to think we’re a part of your professional growth.  I’ll see you at our next event.

Spring 2014 President’s Message – Anneliese Booher

2013-2014 SLCBA President  - Anneliese Booher

2013-2014 SLCBA President – Anneliese Booher

Serving as President of the Salt Lake County Bar Association over the past year has been an incredibly rewarding experience.  But at times it can also be a daunting one, especially when the time comes to send out a President’s message with some wisdom or perspective that might be useful to others.  With Mother’s Day approaching, I have decided that the best wisdom and perspective to share is the most important wisdom and perspective that was shared with me—the advice my mother often repeated as she raised me and my eight siblings.

  1. “Put on some lipstick and eat a piece of chocolate.” My sisters and I would hear this whenever we were nervous about doing something outside of our comfort zone, whether it was a public speech, a dance competition, or a nerve-racking social event.  Life as an attorney continually presents uneasy situations—meetings with clients, practicing in new areas, dealing with difficult counsel, and drafting a President’s message.  My mother’s point was not to forego preparation, but rather that once we have prepared as much as we can, we need to relax, get some endorphins going, and put our best foot forward.  With my lipstick in place, and chocolate devoured, I will now continue with her advice.
  2. “Think of it as ‘an experience’.” This is what my mother would say when someone in our family faced a disappointing situation, like when the family car broke down during a road trip, a school election was lost, or a date went horribly awry.  Having a long-term perspective when we endure professional failures and losses can be difficult, but those failures can also teach us how to do better (or at least give us entertaining stories).  Few motions or cases constitute our one shot at a gold medal at the law Olympics. Perhaps that’s why we call it the “practice” of law.
  3. “Remember who you are.” It’s easy to let the moment overshadow who you are and what you value.  We have all said of ourselves or another attorney, “that’s just not who she is; she was acting out of character.”  Being a lawyer presents numerous opportunities to depart from who we really are. This is not surprising because lawyers are asked to play roles, not entirely unlike actors on a stage. But we are not actors, and these are our lives.  It is worth asking ourselves from time to time whether how we practice law really reflects who we are.
  4. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” This is advice we have all heard, but its importance should not be lost in its prevalence. It is worth remembering how being nice to opposing counsel and professional in our dealings can sometimes make litigation more pleasant and bolster your credibility.

Fortunately for me, it’s easy to say nice things about those who served on the SLCBA Executive Committee this year.  Our CLE Subcommittee—comprised of Chris Hogle, Judge Michele Christiansen, Kristine Larsen, and Clem Landau—planned well-attended events on timely issues such as gene patents, trial practice tips from current judges, and same-sex marriage.  The Socials Subcommittee—Jonathan Pappasideris, Mark Kittrell, and Sam Meziani—staged an attendance record-breaking New Lawyers and Judges Reception at the Alta Club last fall, a sold-out Holiday Party last winter.  They have planned what will surely be a memorable Spring Dinner and Election of Officers for May 30th at the Country Club.  The Bar & Bench Subcommittee, led by Judge Julie Lund with help from Chandler Thompson, Trystan Smith, Tsutomu Johnson, and Kate Conyers, have revitalized this publication’s layout and produced excellent articles.

Our Art and the Law Subcommittee, Jennifer Mastrorocco and Jack Nelson, ably organized our annual Law Day-centered art competition for area elementary and middle school students, garnering nearly 100 submissions.  Aida Neimarlija and Lauren Shurman continue to do a fantastic job on our Membership, Public Relations and Social Media Subcommittee, keeping our Facebook, Twitter, and web presence up to date.  This year, the SLCBA focused on its history, records, and internal organization.  Rita Cornish went above and beyond as a one-woman Records and History Subcommittee, providing invaluable help evaluating and organizing numerous records and updating our corporate documents.  The efforts of these Subcommittee members, together with the advice and help of past-President Judge Robert Shelby, Vice-President Amy Sorenson, Secretary Shane Hillman, and Treasurer Bart Johnsen have made this year one for the books.

Winter 2013 President’s Message – Anneliese Booher


2013-2014 SLCBA President – Anneliese Booher

“It takes an endless amount of history to make even a little tradition.” ”  Henry James.

I am excited and humbled to lead the Salt Lake County Bar Association this year.  When I wonder how I got here, I think back to the first Salt Lake County Bar event that I attended.  It was the Spring Dinner in 2002, and I was a brand-new lawyer.  It made an impression on me, and not just because it was the best meal I’d had in some time.  What impressed me as a freshly-minted and very nervous litigator was the opportunity it afforded me to rub elbows with the best attorneys in our community.  I watched as those attorneys—undoubtedly fierce competitors at times—laughed, ate, and reminisced with each other.  For many, this event was clearly an annual tradition.  At night’s end, I understood one of the central values of this organization—bringing together competitors and colleagues to make friends and mentors.

These values are embodied in the members, including those serving on our Executive Committee.  Because of their hard work, our organization is in great shape.  This year, we hope to continue the successes seen under leadership of recent Presidents, Judge Robert Shelby, Laura Scott, and Trina Higgins.  Our social events have been filled to capacity.  Our CLE’s provide lively conversation and critical guidance, and we now offer a free annual CLE targeted to newer lawyers.  Our Bar & Bench continues to report on the happenings in our community, and our facebook page, LinkedIn group, and website offer fresh information on our events.

In addition to looking forward, this year we reflect on our history.  Understanding our past honors those who worked to create our now well-loved traditions and renews our own mission. To that end, this year, the Committee will be collecting and compiling stories, photographs, and newsletters from our past.  We will be posting those and providing them on our website ( and using them at our events.  Rita Cornish will help to coordinate this endeavor, with the help of Aida Neimarlija and Lauren Shurman, who tirelessly head our Membership, Public Relations and Social Media subcommittee.  If you have photographs or stories about the Salt Lake County Bar Association, please pass those on to Rita or me.

As we have begun this history project, Craig Adamson lent me a copy of the minutes of the first meeting of the Salt Lake County Bar Association.  That meeting took place on January 23, 1930. Twenty-seven attorneys signed the meeting roster.  Their names included Willis Ritter, E.R. Christensen, Ed Hatch, and Brigham Clegg.  Eighty-three years later, we count nearly 2000 members, and still boast among them the best our legal community has to offer.

This year, Judge Julie Lund continues to lead our Bar & Bench, along with Trystan Smith, Chandler Thompson, Tsutomu Johnson, and new member Kate Conyers.  Chris Hogle once again chairs our CLE subcommittee, with valuable help from Judge Michele Christiansen, Clemens Landau, and Kristine Larsen.

Ever the well-oiled machine, our Socials Committee is led by Jonathan Pappasideris, supported by Sam Meziani and Mark Kittrell.  Mark your calendars for December 6, 2013, which is the date of our annual Holiday Party at the Salt Lake Country Club.

Jennifer Mastrorocco continues to ably lead our Art and the Law subcommittee, and is joined this year by new Committee member, Jack Nelson.  Each year, we look forward to seeing the art submitted by area schoolchildren who participate in this competition, done in conjunction with Law Day.  Take a look at some of the past winners’ art on display in the Matheson Courthouse.  We expect our wonderful volunteer judges from the Third District Court to see some great entries on this year’s theme, “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters.”

Under Lauren Shurman and Aida Neimarlija’s leadership, the Membership, Public Relations and Social Media subcommittee continues to guide us through evolving membership and social media issues.  They provide updated information and photographs on Facebook, networking benefits on LinkedIn, and offer on our website past the Bar & Bench articles, our CLE and social calendar, and other helpful information.  The Salt Lake County Bar is even on Twitter!  As we focus this year on our history, Aida and Lauren have already begun to provide this information on our website under the “SLCBA History” tab.  Watch for this part of our website to grow and improve this year.

This year, Amy Sorenson is serving as our Vice President, Shane Hillman is our Secretary, and Bart Johnsen is our Treasurer.  Judge Robert Shelby remains on the committee as our Past-President. We look forward to seeing you at our events!

Fall 2012 President’s Message – Hon. Robert J. Shelby

“This isn’t good or bad.  It’s just the way of things.  Nothing stays the same.”

-Author Unknown

2012-2013 SLCBA President – Hon. Robert J. Shelby

Service organizations that fail periodically to re-evaluate the services they provide risk becoming irrelevant or obsolete.  Professional bar associations are no exception.  Under the extraordinary leadership of last year’s President, Laura Scott, the officers of your Salt Lake County Bar Association carefully examined virtually every aspect of our operations.  The results of the Utah State Bar 2011 Survey of Members included some surprising information about the current demographics of our Bar, and informed many changes to several of our longstanding programs.

This fully electronic version of our Bar & Bench newsletter provides one example of the changes adopted.  Many of you have been members of the Salt Lake County Bar Association long enough to remember the light blue card stock newsletters that used to arrive with your mail.  In recent years we gradually phased out print copies, and moved to electronic newsletters.  The formatting and functionality of this newsletter reflects further transition to a format we hope you will find more approachable, and easier to navigate.

Given the tremendous popularity of our judicial profiles, the Bar & Bench subcommittee assembled this first of its kind “judges only” version of our newsletter.  Save for this message and some calendar notes of our upcoming events, this entire newsletter is devoted to judges.  Our very own Justice Tongue offers below more wildly popular judicial wisdom, and we offer profiles of 5 (relatively) new judges.  Our members often comment that these profiles are interesting and informative, and we hope you enjoy this compilation.  Like our recent electronic newsletters, it will be available on our website for future reference.

Under the leadership of Judge Julie Lund, our Bar & Bench subcommittee is working on some new content ideas for our upcoming winter and spring newsletters.  Joining Judge Lund on our Bar & Bench committee this year are Trystan Smith, Chandler Thompson, Billie Siddoway and Tomu Johnson.

Continuing Legal Education is another area in which we made some substantial changes, beginning with a summer series of free CLE’s on practical topics many young lawyers confront, particularly when friends and relatives call seeking advice.  Hosted by the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah, programs on family law and criminal law quickly filled to capacity.  Look for two more free basic skills level CLE’s next summer.  In addition, we will continue this year our popular lunch programs with judges on the Third District Court and our State appellate courts.  We’ll also continue to host CLE lunches on relevant, interesting and topical issues, like our most recent CLE on troubling trends in voter rights.  Chris Hogle chairs our CLE subcommittee, with excellent assistance from Judge Michele Christiansen, Mark Kitrell, Rita Cornish and Clem Landau.

One area where our committee made virtually no changes is our social programming.  I am convinced that no bar-related organization hosts better social functions than our own Salt Lake County Bar Association Socials subcommittee.  Our events have been at full capacity for many years.  While tremendously enjoyable, our events serve an important function – they provide perfect occasions for members of our local bar and bench to gather and connect in ways that advance the collegiality and professionalism for which our bar is known.  Our annual Alta Club reception for new lawyers was a huge success, and our upcoming holiday party at the Country Club will sell out again.  Be sure to circle December 7 for that event.  Jonathan Pappasideris continues his outstanding multi-year tenure as chair of our Socials subcommittee, ably supported by Bart Johnsen and Sam Meziani.

Look for information after the first of the year concerning our annual Art and the Law project, led by Jennifer Mastrorocco and Kristine Larsen.  Participation among local schools remains near an all-time high, and our Third District Court judges always demonstrate great enthusiasm for judging the entries (many of which are on display in the Matheson Courthouse).

Our Membership, Public Relations and Social Media Committee is assembling a Survey Monkey questionnaire designed to help us better understand whether there exists among our membership unmet needs or interests for which new membership benefits would be useful.  The Committee is also ensuring that our operations remain transparent.  A calendar of our events, publications like this Bar & Bench Newsletter, and other materials are posted on our website at  Lauren Shurman, Aida Neimarlija, and Laura Scott are constantly working on ways to improve our value proposition for members.

Finally, I wish to express my appreciation to our officers.  Anneliese Booher is serving as our Vice President, Amy Sorenson is our Secretary, and Shane Hillman is our Treasurer.  Laura Scott remains on the committee as our Past-President.  These officers and all the members of our Executive Committee provide countless hours of service every year.  Our Salt Lake County Bar is fortunate to have such talented and dedicated lawyers working on our behalf.

Winter 2012 President’s Message – Laura Scott

“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.”  Robert C. Gallagher.

2011-2012 SLCBA President - Laura Scott

2011-2012 SLCBA President – Laura Scott

A few years ago, the Socials Committee (which I chaired) decided it was time to shake things up at the Holiday Party.  In a bold stroke of genius, we hired a DJ instead of the traditional Joe Muscolino Band.  But as soon as the DJ started playing “Get Ur Freak On,” we knew we had made a terrible mistake.  Shell-shocked, we naively hoped our members did not notice that it was a complete disaster.  We lived in this fantasy world for approximately two weeks.  And then the engraved “thank you” note arrived.  At first I was thrilled.  In all my years on the Socials Committee, I had never received a thank you note.  My excitement, however, quickly faded.  Using such words as “shameful” and “embarrassing” to describe our attempt to liven up the party, we were admonished to “maintain our established traditions into the future,” including the “live orchestra.”  I had two immediate thoughts, the first of which is not printable.  The second was that he was dead wrong.  And exactly right.

The SLCBA has a long tradition of providing valuable educational, charitable, and social opportunities for its members.  Although maintaining these traditions does not necessarily mean that we should never try something new or attempt to improve our events, it does mean that we should keep in mind why we exist, what we hope to accomplish, and how best to foster that sense of collegiality and camaraderie that has been the hallmark of SLCBA.  With that preface, let me tell you about some of the changes we’ve made in the past few years and some of the new initiatives we are implementing this year, all in an effort to broaden our reach, better serve our members, and make the practice a law a little bit more fun.

As you may have guessed from the fact that you’re receiving an electronic copy of the Bar & Bench, the SLCBA has gone “green.”  From CLE announcements to Holiday Party invitations, the SLCBA’s primary mode of communication will now be email.  Instead of spending money on printing and postage, we hope to be able to spend more of our limited resources on fabulous parties, interesting CLE lunches, and informative issues of the Bar & Bench.  Speaking of the Bar & Bench, Kristine Larsen, Phil Dracht, Rita Cornish, Chandler Thompson, and Clemens Landau serve on this Committee and welcome any suggestions that you might have for articles or contests.

We moved our CLE lunches from the Marriott Hotel to the Wasatch Conference Center at the Episcopal Church Center.  While there were some minor glitches with parking last year which (hopefully) have been resolved, we expect that the change will allow us to continue to provide high quality CLE lunches at a low cost our members.  We also believe that this venue is a better fit for our planned CLE lunches this year, which are intended to provide our members with opportunities to interact with, and be educated by, the judiciary in a more interactive and informal setting.  Our CLE Committee is comprised of Shane Hillman, Judge Michele Christiansen, Judge Julie Lund, Chris Hogle, and Trystan Smith.

The SLCBA has also joined the social media revolution.  In addition to our website (, the SLCBA now has a Facebook page and a LinkedIn group.  Please “like us” and “join us” so we can keep you informed of upcoming events.  Also, for those who would like to take a trip down SLCBA memory lane, we’ve got photos from SLCBA events and past editions of Bar & Bench.  Lauren Shurman is leading this effort along with Aida Neimarlija.

Two years ago, the SLCBA discontinued the charity golf tournament and replaced it with a silent auction (aka drunken competitive shopping) at the Spring Dinner and Election of Officers, which we moved back to the Salt Lake Country Club.  Now, instead of getting a triple bogey on the 18th hole, you can get a wine basket or a 2-night stay at a luxurious hotel.  More importantly, as a result of the generosity of our members (with a little assistance from our signature cocktails), we have raised over $6,000 for the Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center.

Our other SLCBA social events have proven the old adage that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  A few weeks ago, the SLCBA hosted its annual New Lawyers Reception at the Alta Club.  Close to 200 judges and practicing lawyers joined us in welcoming our “new admittees” to the Utah State Bar.  What a great way to introduce new lawyers to the practice of law and to our professional community.  Our 2011 Holiday Party “sold out” in a few days and is expected to be “the” event of the holiday season.  The Socials Committee (from which I was immediately banned after the DJ fiasco) is headed by Jonathan Pappasideris with assistance from Mark Kittrell and Bart Johnson.

We’re also implementing some new initiatives in an effort to more fully engage our members and to increase our presence in the Salt Lake community.  This year, we co-hosted a tailgating party at the S.J. Quinney College of Law prior to the Utah v. Washington football game.  It was a great opportunity for law students to meet practicing lawyers in an informal setting and learn more about what the SLCBA has to offer them.  We intend to plan a similar “get to know the SLCBA” event at the J. Reuben Clark Law School in the near future.

We also are exploring ways to expand the reach of our Art & the Law program and make it more educational (and relevant) for students, particularly at-risk junior high students who may have already encountered the court system as a result of their personal circumstances.  We believe that this year’s Law Day theme – “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom” – provides us with a unique opportunity to engage these students in a discussion of the important role courts and lawyers play in assuring access to justice, preventing vigilante justice, and overcoming language, economic and other barriers.  If you are interested in helping us with the Art & the Law program, please contact Rick Ensor or Jennifer Mastrorocco.

Finally, the SLCBA officers this year are Vice President Bob Shelby (, Secretary Anneliese Booher (, and Treasurer Amy Sorenson (  We welcome your comments and suggestions.  We’re even happy to receive your “thank you” notes – just make sure they are addressed to “VP Shelby.”