For Immediate Release
"IT’S BEEN A WONDERFUL CAREER"
STEPHEN SCHWENDIMAN RETIRES AFTER 36 YEARS WITH A.G.
For nearly three decades, virtually every major case involving a Utah state employee ended up on the desk of Stephen Schwendiman. As an assistant attorney general, Schwendiman said he took every personnel case personally.
"It was very emotional for me," said Schwendiman. "You are dealing with people’s lives. You’re dealing with people’s jobs and relationships with others and balancing that with the needs of employing agencies."
Schwendiman is retiring at the end of the year after 36 years with the Attorney General’s Office. During that time he worked with six Utah Attorneys General and personally knew and represented nearly every state director and commissioner.
"It’s been a wonderful career," notes Schwendiman. "I love public law as a career. You can look people in the face and know you are doing the public’s work and doing what’s right."
He started as a clerk in February 1974 and passed the state bar a year later. He was initially hired as an attorney to handle child support and paternity cases. Six months into the job he won his first trial against a seasoned and well known defense attorney.
Schwendiman later prosecuted welfare fraud case and says he took great satisfaction in seeking reimbursement and punishment from people who were violating the public’s trust. "I went home at night feeling like I made a real contribution to society."
He is also defended the state’s choice of companies to handle the state’s database for drivers licenses and uninsured motorists. "It was me against a big eastern law firm with six lawyers and paralegals," says Schwendiman. "It was satisfying to know the state could not be outmatched."
"The people of Utah have been fortunate to have the wisdom and keen legal mind of Stephen Schwendiman for nearly four decades," says Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. "Steve loves this office and I, and everyone here, have benefitted having him as a mentor and friend."
Schwendiman remembers his early years when every lawyer at the Attorney General’s Office would meet monthly in the Attorney General’s personal office. "Those were the days when attorneys began making the Attorney General’s Office a career." He says he enjoyed watching the office grow in professionalism and competence. "The state has been and is the recipient of some of the best legal help ever."
During his career, Schwendiman has been general counsel for the Department of Business Regulation (now the Department of Commerce), Department of Human Resource Management and Department of Administrative Services. He handled the personnel cases for all agencies over a 28 year period.
For the last six years and one-half years he has represented the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands and has been co-counsel for the Board of Oil, Gas and Mining in the Department of Natural Resources.
"When I ask Steve to do something it’s done," says Norman Johnson, Division Chief for Natural Resources. "Steve has that priceless gift of absolute dependability."
At home, Schwendiman started a family and raised four children—two sons followed in his footsteps and are practicing law. He also donated years of service to the Boy Scouts of America and was honored with the Silver Beaver Award. "Everybody needs to give to the community and I chose Boy Scouts," says Schwendiman. "That was a marvelous experience to help build the characters of young men."
Even though Schwendiman says he will miss practicing law, he does look forward to finishing four books he has been writing. He also says he has no regrets about spending his entire career at the Utah Attorney General’s Office. "I enjoyed the practice of public law and love the mission of the Attorney General’s Office so much that I never had the desire to seek a position or more money in the private sector. The security and the practice of public law was much more valuable than earning more dollars. For me it was a mission and labor of love. I feel I accomplished what I set out to do and now is the time to step aside and allow others to carry on."