After a particularly challenging election season, the legislative session is now upon us. This means that the Utah State Bar is working hard to ensure that bills affecting the practice of law and access to justice are carefully considered.
Prior to my involvement in the Board of Bar Commissioners, I was unaware of the Utah State Bar’s efforts on behalf of Utah lawyers in this arena. The Utah State Bar has a Governmental Relations Committee, comprised of volunteer attorneys and co-chaired by Sara Bouley and Jaqualin Friend-Peterson.
Each Bar section has a representative on the Committee, and this group meets weekly with lobbyists Douglas Foxley and Frank Pignanelli to evaluate relevant bills and to make recommendations to the Utah State Bar Board of Commissioners.
Commissioners then vote whether to take a position on a bill or whether to allow bar sections to support or oppose a particular bill. As a 501(c)6 organization, the Utah State Bar is a nonpartisan, apolitical organization and can only take a position on bills relating specifically to the practice of law and access to justice issues.
Bar members who are concerned with a proposed bill within this criteria are welcome to contact the Governmental Relations Committee or Board of Bar Commissioners. Further, Bar members are encouraged to contact their representatives directly on concerns outside of these issues.
Some of the bills the Committee is considering are:
• HB0179: Private Cause of Action for Attorney Fees: Creates a cause of action against
attorneys for failure to provide notice to clients of a referral fee. Committee is waiting for
input from the litigation section and bill sponsor to vote on a position.
• HB0021: Stalking Amendments: Changes the definition of “course of conduct” required for
the offense of stalking. Committee is waiting for a reported amended bill prior to taking a
• HB0282: Right of Survivorship Amendments: Amends provisions for rights of survivorship
for joint accounts.
The committee has taken positions supporting a bill addressing expanding the sobriety program (HB0026), a post-conviction remedy bill (HB0100), and a bill amending juvenile penalties (SB0050). Currently, the Committee has no bills they have opposed.