Salt Lake attorney Harold G. Christensen is looking forward to becoming deputy U.S. attorney general, a post to which he will soon be appointed.

Christensen passed his FBI background check Tuesday and was formally nominated by President Ronald Reagan.Christensen said he doesn't yet know when his confirmation hearings will be held. "I'll probably find that out in a day or two," he said. "I look forward to the challenge and am delighted to have this opportunity."

He added, "This comes at a time in my life when I want to serve the public in some manner. My law firm can get along without me now. And my wife passed away a year and a half ago and I'm looking for something different, something new."

Christensen, 61, is a senior partner and chairman of the board of the law firm Snow, Christensen & Martineau. The firm has about 60 attorneys, but Christensen said as deputy attorney general he will oversee about 2,500 attorneys in the Justice Department.

"I've been a trial lawyer all my life. I've handled some significant cases, like the Justice Department handles, but from the other side. I believe I have some management and administrative skills that can be useful," he said.

Christensen will replace Arnold I. Burns, who resigned March 29 in protest of Attorney General Edwin Meese's leadership of the Justice Department. Meese is being investigated for his business dealings.

Christensen said he is confident that Meese will serve out the remainder of the Reagan administration, until the end of this year. He said he has met with Meese twice the past month, but at no time did the question of Meese's problems nor the possibility that Meese may resign come into the conversations.

Commenting on Christensen, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said: "He will do just fine." Hatch recommended Christensen for the job. Christensen will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Hatch sits, for confirmation hearings.

"Hal has a lot to offer the nation," said Hatch. He conceded that the job would bring with it "a lot of headaches" and "vicious and difficult criticism" but told reporters outside the Judiciary Committee hearing room Tuesday that Christensen will be confirmed with dispatch.

"Hal Christensen will bring stability and solidity to the Department," Hatch concluded.

Christensen was born in Springville and graduated from the University of Utah. He received a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1951.

Although a Republican, Christensen once organized a Lawyers for Scott Matheson group to campaign for the former Democratic governor.

He was president of the Salt Lake County Bar Association in 1972, was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1974 and was Utah State Bar president in 1975-76.

Christensen was named the state bar's Lawyer of the Year in 1984 and was appointed chairman of the U.S. Judicial Selection Commission that year.