President’s Message — Fall 2012

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

-Author Unknown

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 www.slcba.net.  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.

Message from SLCBA President Laura Scott

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

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 (www.slcba.net), 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 (rshelby@scmlaw.com), Secretary Anneliese Booher (anneliese.booher@law.utah.edu), and Treasurer Amy Sorenson (asorenson@swlaw.com).  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.”