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IndyBar President’s Message: Bridging the Gap

By Kerry Hyatt Blomquist, 2013 IndyBar President

You have no doubt heard or read about it before—times are a changing and there is a lot of dialogue out there right now about the face of legal education in America, the uncertain economics of the practice of law, and how one affects the other. In 2011, this country cranked out 44,000 new lawyers for just over 21,000 new attorney jobs. There is a glut of lawyers out there joining an economic environment that is not growing to meet them head on.

More still, there is the never-ending concern that graduating and passing the bar does not create lawyers ready to practice, and fully mentoring young lawyers takes time, money and opportunity, all of which can be hard to come by. Those of us who were mentored by outstanding practitioners when we were “coming up” (shout out to Wes Bowers, Paul Black, Jim Lisher and the unforgettable Linda Pence) remember how critical it was to learn those skills in a safe, understanding environment. For many of our unemployed and underemployed brethren out there, that that opportunity has not been within their reach.

So what to do? Really glad you asked that.

Recognizing the impact that the economic downturn has had on our profession and the challenges faced by our peers, in 2012 IndyBar Leadership under President Scott Chinn established the Lawyers Helping Lawyers Task Force. After creating the task force, Scott’s second brilliant move was to ask IndyBar board members Rebecca Geyer and Kathleen Hart to take point on this project. Their great work has resulted in some concrete marching orders designed to provide meaningful opportunities for personal growth and skills training to unemployed and underemployed members of our bar.

To wit:

In March of this year, the IndyBar is launching its first ever Attorney Apprentice Program, a program created to provide substantive knowledge and practical experience to new and less experienced attorneys. Designed to bridge the “knowing-doing gap” often experienced by new practitioners, the program includes practice and role-play to accelerate the learning curve of participants. The result? Quite simply, better lawyers.

The Attorney Apprentice Program is ideal for new associates, those who wish to venture out of their practice comfort zone, or those who want to learn how the practice of law can be very different than learning the law itself. Imagine having the opportunity to spend part of an afternoon on motions practice, depositions and discovery, estate planning, or the ins and outs of the Indiana Trial Rules. How about a seminar on the economic realities of starting your own practice? This is the stuff they don’t teach you in law school. It is both timeless and priceless.

The Attorney Apprentice Program features a core curriculum aimed at developing attorney business and marketing skills as well as substantive programming in a legal track of the participant’s choosing—Civil Litigation, Transactional Practice or Criminal Practice and Procedure. Substantive programming includes a practice component incorporating the tell/show/do model, giving participants the opportunity to apply their newly acquired knowledge on case studies, sample documents and more. Participants will receive a certificate of achievement upon completion of the program.

In keeping with its commitment to supporting attorneys in central Indiana, the Indianapolis Bar Foundation is providing 30 scholarships for the program; so if you haven’t donated to the IBF, please consider doing so because this is indeed “Lawyers Helping Lawyers.”

You will likely become dreadfully tired of hearing me say this, but great things are happening at IndyBar and this is one of them. We are working to create better lawyers, so please consider sending your associates to this program and/or encouraging your colleagues to attend or support this work. For more information, click here and see just what this program has to offer.

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