Brian Moore Barnard: A different kind of lawyer

desk with garbage canBrian Moore Barnard was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He worked his way through college as a mail carrier and earned his degree from Claremont Men’s College. Brian attended Loyola Law School and graduated in 1969; with a passion for Constitutional law and social justice. He taught law at George Washington University for a short period after law school. Brian came to Utah on a Reginald Heber Smith fellowship given to young attorneys interested in community-oriented legal work and began working at Utah Legal Services. He was not planning to stay in Utah, but he soon determined he could make a difference here.


Brian opened the doors to his own law office, Utah Legal Clinic, in 1973. He chose the name Utah Legal Clinic rather than a traditional law firm name because he wanted all people to feel as though he was their advocate and his door was open to anyone. Brian was not a stereotypical lawyer, he could be seen walking to and from work picking up garbage or trimming trees that hung in his path. He didn’t have a briefcase but a handmade leather bi-fold that an inmate had made for him. He very seldom wore a tie; if he did it often sported Mickey Mouse. He kept a suit jacket at the office to slip-on for hearings and liked to tell people about the time a judge told him to get a haircut. He often took cases pro bono, on contingent fee or sometimes traded his legal assistance for goods or services.

Utah's Gadfly

Not everyone agreed with every case, even his staff, and some of his clients were unlikable but his unwavering resolve and consistent dedication to the Constitution earned him respect. Many of Brian’s peers as well as politicians and judges respected Brian’s skill and unabashed willingness to take on unpopular causes. Brian took pride in being called Utah’s gadfly after a magazine article assigned him the title. Brian stood up for any person’s rights; a few specific cases are women who wanted access to men’s private clubs, Native Americans whose Oil Trust money was being mismanaged by the State of Utah, people with AIDS who were told their marriages were void, ordinary citizens prosecuted for consensual sex, panhandlers whose free speech was infringed, prayer givers, atheists, animal rights activists, inmates, jailers, polygamists, religious leaders, bar owners and even other attorneys when he sued for the right for attorneys to advertise their services. Yes, you can thank Brian if you are an attorney who advertises. He was not afraid of any establishment. He brought suits against the Utah State Bar, government entities, judges and the LDS Church. Brian was a devoted defender of civil liberties for all, regardless of social, political, ideological or economical standing and treated people with dignity and humanity.

Give Education

Brian believed in education. He did what he could to ensure his staff were able to pay for and attend college or classes that would benefit them. He also established perpetual college scholarships in his parents’ names at their Canadian and California high schools. These scholarships are not given to sterling scholars, they are awarded to the most improved student each year. He also established a scholarship for law students interested in civil rights law at the University of Utah and invested money for the children of his staff for future college expenses. Brian was compassionate and treated his staff like family. Brian was a lover of the arts, he donated to many organizations and supported them by taking his employees on “office outings” to a wide variety of events.

Moving Forward

Brian Barnard officeStuart Ralphs, Executive Director of Utah Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake once said “it will be a long time before another Brian Barnard comes along in our profession.” Brian’s way-of-thinking and his philosophy for his law office is still moving forward at the same humble location where he worked for more than 40 years. He left a significant legacy in Utah and Utah Legal Clinic continues to operate moving his legacy forward.

The Clinic's Foundations support and fund this effort.»