By Tyler D. Helmond, Voyles Zahn & Paul
He is a graduate of Indiana University and the IU McKinney School of Law. He was a Marion County Deputy Prosecutor before joining Densborn Blachly LLP. He is a 2013 Indiana Lawyer “Up and Coming Lawyer.” He is Eric Schmadeke, and he has been served with interrogatories.
You recently transitioned from prosecuting criminal cases to civil litigation in private practice. What has been the hardest part about that?
Without a doubt – sitting down and typing. Trials and contested hearings were once the routine; now it feels like I am going out for ice cream every time I get to argue on my feet. The rule jockeying which seems to plague civil litigation can become a little arduous at times too. I really believe good outcomes would happen more often for our clients if we all focused on the merits a little more and rules ending in something like (m)(38)(P)(xxi) a little less.
…and the easiest part?
Transitioning from a job where I was surrounded by incredibly talented, hard-working and honest lawyers who would rather be hit by a bus than let down their victims, to a job where I am surrounded by incredibly talented, hard-working and honest lawyers who would rather be hit by a bus than let down their clients.
Your office is now on the north side instead of downtown. What are your feelings about that?
Densborn Blachly LLP built a first-class modern law office as appealing and fun to work in as any other I have ever seen, and it is quite nice to walk into a place like that every day. It also happens to be on the north side where I have grown up and currently reside, along with a lot of our clients too.
On the other hand, I do miss the energy of downtown. There was always just a touch of excitement that came with the uncertainty of what you might see that day, good or bad. Am I going to be accosted by a vagabond whose breath smells like after-shave or see a couple silently and tearfully embrace on the sidewalk after learning their adoption has just been finalized? Or both? You never knew. That is what I miss.
Describe your technology setup.
Smart phone, laptop, and docking station with dual monitors. Big fan of the dual monitors. Densborn Blachly LLP also makes use of cutting-edge practice management technologies that utilize the cloud. The firm decided to make a commitment to staying ahead of the tech curve. So far, that bet has paid off big time for us and our clients.
If you could bring one historically notable dead person back to life, who would it be and why?
Mark Twain. He said of Jane Austen, “Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” If that is how he reviewed a novel about manners, I am dying to know what he would have to say regarding the 113th United States Congress, or TMZ.com. It would also be fun to ask him why he kept reading ‘Pride and Prejudice.’
Who is the most challenging judge you have practiced before?
Tough one. It would be easier to name judges who would describe my practice before them as “most challenging.” By the way, did you choose an adjective that means both inspiring and impudent on purpose? If so, well played – but I am not biting.
You have tried more than 75 juries in a relatively short career, and rumor has it, you are pretty hard to beat. What’s the secret?
First, there is no secret. I am merely the common denominator. It is truly the work of the investigators, paralegals, expert witnesses, administrative staff and co-counsel who have supported, taught and tolerated me over the years who won these cases. Second, I would like to ask my grandmother to stop spreading rumors.
However, imagining for the moment that there is a “secret” recipe to win juries, I suspect it would read something like:
Six parts – good facts;
Five parts – preparation;
Four parts – co-counsel and support staff (only the finest quality);
Three parts – jury selection;
Two parts – persuasive story-telling and the cogent use of analogies to make relevant facts relatable;
One part – Providence, and –
A dash of pluck.
What is your favorite Indiana craft beer?
Sun King: Cream Ale on the golf course or Indians Lager at the ballpark.