Law from a Legal Assistant’s Point of View, Week 1: It’s all new to me

My favorite part of being new at something is that feeling of every aspect being unique and energizing.  

I am experiencing that feeling now in my new job as a legal assistant for Utah Family Law, LC. I have never been a legal assistant before.  

I moved back to Utah in late June after spending a year in Chicago. Much about life in Utah does not feel new to me anymore, but the adventure this time around came about when I needed a place to work.  

I graduated from college in 2020 (Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy). I have been considering going to law school, so I needed a job that would give me experience to help me determine whether it’s a path I want to follow. My particular interest is alternative dispute resolution (ADR), so I started looking for opportunities that were connected to this area of law in any way. 

I did not have an extensive list of connections in the law profession, and I had no idea where to start. I sent out my resumé to some law firms, along with a note explaining how I may want to attend law school and pursue a career in ADR. I did not expect this to work all that quickly (if at all), but by some miracle the next day after I e-mailed Eric Johnson at Utah Family Law, LC.  

Eric and I spoke a few times over the next few days, met for an interview, and he offered me a job as his new legal assistant.  

Eric and I want to share with you an account of my experiences in this job to highlight what I don’t know and what I learn about Utah divorce and family law practice. What confuses and frustrates me. What surprises and disappoints me. What I like about it too.  

This blog post is my first in a series that I will publish each week, tracking with each week since I was hired. That’s right; this first blog post this comes out my first full week on the job. I am a complete neophyte, an innocent looking at this with fresh eyes. Much like many of you who may experience a divorce and family law case. This is why Eric wanted me to share my observations and insights as I go.  

As I stated previously, at the time of my writing this post, I have been working as a legal assistant for just under a week. Already it has been incredibly enlightening (the last time I felt so inundated with new knowledge/out of my depth was when I was learning Hungarian while living in Hungary as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  

In the short span of time I’ve been working here, I have made calls to the Utah Court of Appeals, filed requests for media coverage of public court hearings, and attended a hearing on a motion for temporary orders in a divorce proceeding. 

Now that I think about it, the mission experience and this new legal assistant experience are surprisingly similar. Each requires me to learn a “new language” while I simultaneously complete tasks in that new language. Each demands that I meet new people and establish a relationship right away. I also have needed to rely heavily on the experience of others who are farther down this road, who have more experience and skill, and to be humble and patient in that aspect.  

The most exciting similarity between these two experiences for me is the energy I feel in the work. A mission, while incredibly hard, is an exciting time. The work is exhausting but at the same time fun. Some days more than others, but that is true of everything in life.  

Even being tangentially involved with the practice of law for a week has been immensely rewarding. I feel part of something bigger than myself, which I think is what most of us would like to consider the law to be. The law is supposed to be a noble thing that guides and protects us as citizens. Unfortunately, the law has flaws, but it is still an honor to seek to uphold that ideal and strive to extend that ideal to everyone. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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