Tips from the “Transition to the Practice of Law” Panel

Last Wednesday, PDO & the Young Lawyers Division of the Utah State Bar co-sponsored a panel featuring recent SJQ alums who gave 3L students tips on studying for the bar exam, transitioning from student to professional life, and the Utah Bar mentor program.  The panelists in attendance were: Phil Wormdahl, Philip Wormdahl PC, Allison Bejhani, Parr Brown Gee & Loveless, Nathanael Swift, SL Prosecutor’s Office & Aida Nemarlija, Burbidge Mitchell & Gross.  

Studying for the Bar Exam:

1.)    Utilize the study methods that what work for you.  You don’t need to change your study habits just because you are taking the bar exam, if it works for you to draw flowcharts or flashcards, do that.  If you like to study with friends, do that.  Find a bar review course that fits your study habits and go with it.

2.)    Don’t blow off studying for the bar until the last minute.  Create and stick to a schedule. Stay relaxed until after you graduate.  If you can, treat bar study like an 8-hour/day job.  This doesn’t mean that you should blow off your family and friends.  Remember to balance your schedule to include family time, social activities and exercise. 

3.)    Don’t “de-brief” during the bar exam.  Don’t spend time looking at your Barbri book during your breaks on the days of the exam.  Bring headphones and listen to music or go have lunch with your classmates and try to talk about something other than your exam responses.  Knowing what you didn’t do can cause stress which may affect your overall performance.

4.)    Go to the Utah Bar and look at old exams.  This shows you the structure of potential questions and how they should be answered.  

Making the Transition from Student to Professional

1.)    If you are unemployed after you take the bar exam, do pro bono work.  This is a great way to demonstrate your work ethic and to network with members of the legal community.

2.)    Network as much as you can.  Attend alumni/Utah bar networking events.  Join a section of the bar.  Support or become involved in the SJQ Young Alumni Association. 

3.)    Meet with & develop your relationship with your Bar mentor.  Your mentor is there to help you with the transition from student to professional life.  Utilize the assistance he/she has to offer.  Keep in touch with them regularly.

4.)    Keep up your self-confidence.  Remember that your employer hired you for a reason, that you have skills and characteristics that will help you succeed in the workplace.  Unless told otherwise by your employer, you’re probably doing just fine.  Try to keep everything in perspective.

Utah Bar: New Lawyer Training Program for Graduates

Attention graduating law students who intend to practice in Utah:  The Utah State Supreme Court and the Utah State Bar developed an important program to help lay the foundation for you to become a skilled and more-respected member of the profession.  The New Lawyer Training Program (“NLTP”) is a twelve-month mentoring program through which you, as a new lawyer, will be paired with an experienced lawyer who will serve as a mentor to you.  You and your mentor will prepare a formal    plan to expose you to an array of legal activities and experiences.  All of the activities and experiences are established with the goal of providing new lawyers with practical training in professionalism, ethics and civility.

Most new Utah lawyers are required to participate in the NLTP for renewal of their law license.  A new lawyer admitted to practice law in October 2010 (i.e., one who took and passed the July Bar exam) is required to participate in the NLTP beginning on January 1, 2011.  All enrollment materials and information will be mailed with all other admission materials upon passage of the Bar Exam.  In the mean time, you can access all relevant information at

If you have any questions regarding the NLTP please email the Utah State Bar at