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Celebrating the Journey: Reflections on the Bar Leader Series Experience

By Kevin Morrissey, Lewis & Kappes PC

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On May 22, 2013, the 25 members of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series (BLS) Class X gathered at the Skyline Club to cap off another successful iteration of the program. The five sub-groups of BLS X also presented the results of the various community service projects completed as part of BLS X. Overall, the presentations demonstrated that each group dedicated significant time and effort to each of the projects. It was clear that these community service projects were a labor of love for each of the participants.

What’s more, this event was the culmination of a rewarding nine-month long leadership experience for which I know every member of BLS X is extremely grateful to have been part. And so, for my final installment on BLS X, I would like to share some reflections and memories from my classmates about the program as well as our gratitude to the people that made it possible.

“The thing I enjoyed most about the Bar Leader Series was seeing motivated people work with people they have never met before to complete a common goal. Before the Bar Leader Series I did not know anyone in my five-person project group. [O]ur group used our various strengths to come up with a service project that made a difference in the lives of many people. It was great to see the smile on the children’s faces at Damar when they were trying on suits that we had donated for their prom…The families at Washington Community School were very appreciative of the donations that will hopefully give them a slight respite from their challenging day-to-day activities. It would be difficult for one attorney to tackle these projects on his own, but working with other leaders in the bar, we were able to make a large impact.” –Colin Connor, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP

“One theme stood out to me…in order to be an effective leader, you need to be an excellent listener. By nature, attorneys are anxious to start talking and solving problems before they fully understand the issue at hand. Listening is a key component in leadership, practicing law and life.” –Marc Pfleging, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP

“The Bar Leader Series provided me with the opportunity to meet important individuals in our community and to meet and build relationships with attorneys outside of my firm. Also, our female-only team was far superior in the water pour event.” –Kiamesha Colom, Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aranoff LLP

“Our service project involved giving talks on Financial Literacy to Vocational Education students at Ben Davis High School. We gave the talks on two different days. When we arrived for the second day, the classroom teacher had asked the school’s vice-principal to come see the presentations as well. Afterwards, the vice-principal’s reaction was, ‘why aren’t we doing this for all of our kids?’ The teacher told me afterward that out at the construction site, the students were talking about our presentations, and were very interested in the topic.” –Carly Turow, Katz & Korin PC

“Working on the community service project with my team was by far the most rewarding experience of the program. Our team, appropriately named ‘Women helping Women,’ organized an in-kind fundraiser to gather professional accessories for the women served by The Julian Center and Dress for Success. We were able to secure a generous sponsor, the Skyline Club, that provided us with a fantastic venue for the event—‘Give a Little, Get A Little.’ We chose that name since we asked our guests to bring a donation of professional accessories and at the event they were able to make a pair of earrings from the supplies we provided. We held the event in March during one of the worst snow storms of the year, and still so many of our friends and co-workers showed up to support the cause—we were floored. Their generosity and support was truly overwhelming. Presenting the donations to the Julian Center and Dress for Success was an absolute honor and one that would have not been possible without the Bar Leader Series program.” –Kendra Conover, Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman PC

On a personal note, I want to extend my sincere appreciation to Kevin McGoff, John Trimble, David Herzog, and all of the members of the Steering Committee of BLS X for their hard work and dedication to the program. Each of those attorneys made sacrifices to volunteer their time and talents that made the program a resounding success. For that we are extremely grateful. Finally, I am confident I can speak on behalf of each of the members of BLS X in expressing our gratitude to Caren Chopp, Pro Bono and Legal Services Coordinator for the Indianapolis Bar Association, for all she does to organize and execute the Bar Leader Series.

Congrats to my fellow classmates who graduated from BLS X, and many thanks to those who spent time, money, and energy on the program. I know the community looks forward to seeing how the 24 other members of this group continue to emerge as leaders in the Indianapolis area and within the bar.

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