Judge Paige Petersen: A Rewarding Profession

Paige Petersen
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Attorney at Law Magazine Utah publisher John Marciano sat down with Judge Paige Petersen to discuss her career in the courtroom. 

AALM: What court do you preside over and how long have you held that position?


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Petersen: I have been a district judge in the Third Judicial District for a little over two years. Until recently, I handled both a criminal calendar in Summit County and a civil calendar in Salt Lake County. Currently, I have a civil docket in the Matheson Courthouse.

AALM: Describe your style in the courtroom.

Petersen: I want the lawyers and parties in my courtroom to leave feeling that I treated them fairly, whether they prevailed or not. I do my best to be prepared, patient and impartial. I listen closely and ask questions until I understand both sides.


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AALM: Describe your relationship with your staff .

Petersen: I couldn’t do my job without my judicial assistants, case manager and law clerk. We are a team. Being around these wonderful people brightens my day.

AALM: Do you have any advice for attorneys trying a case before your bench?

Petersen: The Rules of Civility are important to me. I expect counsel to be civil and professional with one another. If counsel is demeaning to his or her opponent in briefing or argument, I find it not just off-putting, but unpersuasive and usually inaccurate.


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AALM: What do you love about your job?

Petersen: Being a judge is even more rewarding than I hoped it would be. Sometimes, I have an opportunity to positively affect a person’s life – whether it is by encouraging a participant in drug court, performing an adoption, or resolving a civil dispute in a way that lets adversaries move on with their lives. When I’m able to help someone, I feel a great sense of satisfaction.

AALM: What do you miss about being a lawyer?

Petersen: I miss the exhilaration of being an advocate in court.

AALM: Are there any challenges that you believe need to be corrected in the legal community?

Petersen: There are many more people who represent themselves in court without a lawyer than I would have ever imagined. Like all litigants these people are involved in cases that are very important to them, but they simply can’t afford a lawyer. They are left to negotiate the legal system on their own. Utah has done much to address the needs of pro se litigants, however, it is still a daunting challenge.

AALM: What do you do in your spare time? Hobbies?

Petersen: I’m a sports fan, and I especially enjoy watching football. I’m a fan of the Utes and the Denver Broncos, and I love to see a good Von Miller sack.

AALM: Tell us a funny story either from your days as a practitioner or from your days on the bench.

Petersen: When I practiced as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, the courthouse was a decent walk from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. I would often walk to the courthouse in comfortable shoes and change into pumps when I arrived. One morning, I was headed to court in the midst of a very long and difficult racketeering trial. I was set to begin the direct examination of an important witness. When I reached the courthouse, I went to change into my pumps and realized I had grabbed one navy shoe and one black shoe, and both were for my left foot. I didn’t have enough time to run back to the office, so I ended up standing at the podium wearing my paralegal’s shoes. Not a good way to start the trial day!

“I want the lawyers and parties in my courtroom to leave feeling that I treated them fairly, whether they prevailed or not.”

Attorney at Law Magazine

Attorney at Law Magazine is a national B2B trade publication for and about private practice attorneys. The magazine focuses on the industry, its events, happenings and the professionals and firms that drive its success. The editorial is a collaboration of interviews with professionals, industry expert penned columns and articles about advancing your legal practice through marketing, practice management and customer service.

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