Utah State Bar March eBulletin
Government Relations Committee and the Bar's Position on Legislation; Bar and Women Lawyers of Utah Conduct Surveys
As you likely know, the Government Relations Committee works it’s figurative head off during the hectic days of the legislature. It meets regularly during the session, and then the Bar Commission meets weekly to review the recommendations of the Committee re: taking a formal Bar position with the Legislature involving various bills.

As a result, the Bar took a position in favor of several bills, and in opposition to several others. And in many cases, the Bar took no position but authorized various sections of the Bar to take a formal position on bills which involved that particular section of the Bar.

The Bar formally opposed SB 206, which would have placed on the ballot involving retention elections for judges a notation as to whether that judge had received a favorable or unfavorable recommendation from the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission (JPEC). The Bar’s opposition was based, among other things, on a concern for the constitutionality of placing a formal notation on the ballot itself suggesting how the public should vote. That information should certainly be considered – but not as direct advice on the ballot itself.

But perhaps the most troubling proposal of the session was the proposal to amend the Utah Constitution to require the Direct Election of Judges – rather than the appointment by the Governor with confirmation from the Senate.

This is ill-advised to say the least. As a Bar, we certainly honor the notions of public input, public participation and public guidance. But not EVERY position should be directly chosen by the populace.

Just last week I was in Texas for meetings. It’s primary election season there, and I saw signs all over Austin telling me to: “Re-elect Judge Judy – Keep Texas straight!” Or “Dan’s the Man – vote Wiggins for Judge”. This just felt unseemly.

A survey (on condition of anonymity, of course) of State Court Judges where direct elections are the norm recently confirmed that judges admitted that it effected their decisions as to whom had supported their campaigns and who had contributed money for their re-election. If we adopt such a measure, Utah attorneys would have to break out their checkbooks in order to not risk the wrath of electioneering judges. In fact, two checks would be needed to assure that you had backed the winning horse. This isn’t right.

This very week I stood in court with a young lady and submitted her fate to the Judge. I am so grateful I didn’t have to explain to my client that I had or had not served on the judges’ re-election committee, and had or had not made a substantial campaign contribution. Such discomfort in the heart of an attorney (and her client) is wrong – but is inevitable if judges run for office like the local dogcatcher.

Lady Justice is blind as to who stand before her. We don’t want her peeking to see who’s signed her newspaper endorsements for her re-election.

The Utah Bar opposes direct elections because what we have works.

We trust the Judicial Nominating Commissions to sift through candidate credentials.

We trust the Governor to thoughtfully nominate the best candidate.

We trust our Senators to only consent to the wisest, most capable nominees – without regard to cute or clever publicity campaigns.

We hear all the time that Utah’s system is the envy of other states because IT WORKS! Let’s not mess it up. 


The Utah State Bar and the Women Lawyers of Utah are conducting surveys to discover more information about the practice of law in Utah. The surveys will provide data for the Bar and Women Lawyers about how to better serve members of the profession and the community. Take the Bar survey and the Women Lawyers of Utah survey and you could win a $100 Amazon gift card!
Ransomware Continues to be a Big Problem for Attorneys and Law Firms
In just the past few weeks, at least 5 law firms have been attacked by a malicious ransomware group known as Maze. This new and unique virus doesn't place a ransom note on your system, they place your firm's name on a public website. Entities that do not comply with ransom demands have portions of their data released until the ransom is paid; two different firms had their data released this past week. Now that you are aware of the situation, we've put together some resources to help you understand it and how to prevent it:

Emisoft has stated that at least 45 companies were the center of attack by Maze in January. They also state that this only accounts for 25% of their hit list. More information about this ransomware attack can be found here.
LAWYER WELL-BEING: The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being
Lawyer Well-Being Week is a good next step we can take together. To align with Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Lawyer Well-Being Week will occur May 4-8, 2020.. Participating organizations include the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Practice Division and its Attorney Well-Being Committee, and the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Program, lawyerwellbeing.net. And don't miss this month's "Well-Being Byte" podcast on Negativity Bias.
Utah State Bar Elections Scheduled
April 1 for President-elect and
Third Division Commissioners
 The Utah State Bar elections are coming April 1. Bar members will choose a President-elect and three Third Division Commissioners.

Heather Thuet is the sole candidate for President-elect, and will run in a retention election according to Bar bylaws. Third Division Commissioner Candidates are Traci Gunderson, Mark Morris, Andrew Morse, Michael Stahler and Brenda Weinberg.

More information on the Candidates can be found here .
Heather Thuet, President-elect Candidate
Traci Gunderson,
Third Division Candidate
Mark Morris,
Third Division Candidate
Andrew Morse,
Third Division Candidate
Michael Stahler,
Third Division Candidate
Brenda Weinberg,
Third Division Candidate
Interactive Calendar Now Available for Legal Events
In order to reduce scheduling conflicts arising too often with so many of the great events and seminars sponsored by groups of lawyers and bar-related affiliates and organizations, the Utah State Bar has now created an online calendar for your use. You can view the calendar here . Lawyer-related groups can review available dates for conflicts and place events directly on the calendar.  Too often in the past different opportunities for socializing and learning have been scheduled over one another by groups simply because they have been unaware of conflicts.  This shared calendar can help eliminate these unfortunate incidents in the future. To get access to the calendar for your group email David Clark.
Utah State Bar Legislative Positions Announced
Positions taken by the Bar during the 2020 Utah Legislative Session and funds expended on public policy issues related to the regulation of the practice of law and the administration of justice are available here . The Bar is authorized by the Utah Supreme Court to engage in legislative and public policies activities related to the regulation of the practice of law and the administration of justice by Supreme Court Rule 14-106 . Lawyers may receive a rebate of the proportion of their annual Bar license fee expended for such activities during April 1, 2019 through March 30, 2020 by notifying Financial Director Lauren Stout .  

The proportional amount of fees provided in the rebate include funds spent for lobbyists and staff time spent lobbying; a breakfast meeting with lawyer legislators; travel for the Bar’s three delegates to the American Bar Association House of Delegates; travel by Bar leadership to lobby in Washington DC with the American Bar Association; the Bar’s contribution to the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion; and Utah legislative lobbyist registration fees for the Bar’s Executive Director and Assistant Executive Director. Prior year rebates have averaged up to approximately $6.10 depending on the license fee paid. The rebate amount will be calculated April 1, 2020 and we expect the amount to be consistent with prior years.
"Banter with the Bench" Event Scheduled for March 26
It’s time for one of WLU’s most popular annual events, Banter with the Bench!
Banter with the Bench is a luncheon where attendees have the opportunity to have a small group discussion at their table with one or two of our female judges. This is a rare opportunity to have meaningful in person interaction with our incredible female members of the bench.
This event is always very well-attended so get your tickets asap!

Event details:
March 26, 2020, Noon-1:15pm
Federal Courthouse
Jury Assembly Room
351 S. West Temple, SLC
Ticket info:
$30 for WLU members
$20 for government/non-profit/students
$40 for non-members
You must register if you want to get CLE credit.
Register here .
If you have questions, email Jen Tomchak and we'll see you there!