Every year the Utah State Bar Association chooses one attorney to get the “Lawyer of the Year” award. This year, Robert Sykes was the recipient. This is not an award that a lawyer gets for winning the most cases, making the most money or for being the most popular; this award goes to lawyers who make a difference for their clients.
Many lawyers and judges submitted nominations. One judge stated:
“I have known Bob Sykes as opposing counsel, advocate in my courtroom, and as a lawyer who strives through both the courts and in our community to right wrongs and effect change, for almost thirty years. If this is the year of the dogged advocate who spares neither himself nor his resources in representation of his clients, Bob Sykes is a worthy nominee … I have been opposing counsel to Bob Sykes, and his qualities can make him a difficult opponent. Nevertheless, seeing what he does and how dedicated he is to the zealous representation of his clients, even at great personal cost, I wouldn't change him.”
This judge also mentioned two cases that stood out in Robert’s career:
In 1995, Robert was approached to take over the Houghton case, a class action against Medicaid where the state failed to pay the class member’s legal fees when they sought to get Medicaid liens reimbursed. Robert fought tirelessly without pay to win this case on behalf of the class.
In the other case, he was defending seven widows of Chinese educators who were killed in a car accident years earlier. The settlement was not large by our standards, but it changed the lives of these widows. This is another case that another lawyer may have given up on, but Robert did not. At the end of the trial, the widows, lawyers (on both sides), staff and jurors were all hugging and crying because of the victory.
Lawyers don’t simply get this award for being good businessmen; they get it for being a lawyer who works hard, cares about their clients and makes a difference. Rodney G. Snow, the president of the Utah State Bar had said that Robert is not a business lawyer, he is a peoples' lawyer. You can be assured that Robert does not give up on his cases; he sees them through to the end and makes sure his clients get a good result.
Congratulations to Robert for receiving this well-deserved award.