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The Evolution of Law: 50-Year Practitioners Look Back

Fifty years ago, a gallon of gas cost 30 cents, a postage stamp cost five cents and a ticket to the movies was $1.25. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War raged on. The first Ford Mustang was made, Cassius Clay became the World Heavyweight champion and the British and French governments began making plans to build a tunnel under the English Channel.

For 14 IndyBar members, fifty years ago was also when they began practicing law.

To get a better idea of what it means to spend 50 years devoted to the profession, some of these members shared an inside glimpse at some of their best memories in the field. Read on to see what has changed and which experiences have left a lasting impression.

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Hughes

Mr. David B. Hughes

“In all things, finish in style.”

What was it like practicing law when you started compared to now?

Where do I start? If the question were, “What are the biggest similarities?” my answer would be, “N/A!” I think the biggest difference is the fast dwindling ability of regular folks to obtain the services of good lawyers at an affordable price. Close seconds would be the sheer size of the bar now, electronics, specialization and the ungodly expense of litigation.

What is your favorite memory from the last 50 years?

Time spent with my mentors: my dad, Fran Hughes, and Shel Breskow, to name only two. Also, surviving–pretty much unscathed–my three years as chief deputy prosecutor in Saul Rabb’s Criminal Court No. 2 (truth be told, I actually liked Judge Rabb).

Words to live by?

My mother drilled into our brains, “In all things, finish in style.” It comes in very handy in all of life’s endeavors. As to the opposite–words to die by–my sarcophagus at Crown Hill will read, “His motion for enlargement of time was denied!”

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Kassing

Robert P. Kassing, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

“A good friend of mine long retired from the practice once told me, ‘If there is something you want to do, you had better get after it.’ Fifty years fly by so much faster than I would have imagined.”

What is the biggest difference between practicing law in 1964 versus today?

When I started out many years ago, the Indianapolis bar environment was far different, not only because of the great increase in the number of practicing lawyers over the years. There was limited, hardly any, lawyer free agency among law firms of any size. At the beginning of my practice, the number of lawyers in mid to large firms ranged from 10 to the mid-20s. My recollection of the biggest difference between then and now, however, was the culture of the bar in the 60s and 70s. It was much more collegial, which was helped along by a dining room operated by the Indianapolis Bar Association. The food was marginal or worse but the gathering place fostered collegiality, friendships, good relationships and great times.

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Metzger

Mr. Norman P. Metzger, Indiana Legal Services, Inc.

“Perfect is the enemy of good.”

What was it like practicing law when you started compared to now?

First of all, technology has completely changed the practice of law, including everything from word processing to legal research to form practice. Secondly, training and support for attorneys have become the sine qua non, not just for trial practice, but every element of the practice of law. Finally, the practice of law is so diversified that knowledge beyond the law is a requisite to succeed in the practice of law. It’s an advantage for lawyers to be multilingual, to specialize in discrete substantive law areas and to be comfortable when dealing with non-traditional legal issues and clients.

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Reynolds

Mr. Robert H. Reynolds, Barnes & Thornburg LLP

“Do your best to maintain a balanced life, despite heavy pressures from today’s practice. Leave time for your family and your community. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you did.”

What is your favorite memory from the last 50 years?

There are many. First, being in the associate

and partner class with Shirley Shideler, the first female lawyer employed by the firm, was one of the best. She went to what is now the IU McKinney School of Law at night while she worked as an extraordinary secretary during the day. She later became the first female partner in any of the larger firms. We were buddies until her untimely death.

Second, being on the committee to arrange the 1982 merger of Barnes Hickam Pantzer & Boyd with the Thornburg McGill firm of South Bend (then the fourth largest firm in the State) to create Barnes & Thornburg, the first “statewide” law firm. That merger resulted in the Indianapolis firm’s first written partnership agreement. Now Barnes & Thornburg has 12 offices and spans the country. The changes have been breathtaking.

Third, also in 1982, is helping Don Knebel recruit Bill Coffey and the Jenkins Coffey firm, making Barnes & Thornburg the first Indianapolis firm to include a substantial and integrated intellectual property practice.

Finally, fourth, in 1990, the firm joined TerraLex, a worldwide network of leading independent law firms. Working through the TerraLex member firms, the firm’s lawyers were able to serve our United States clients in international matters. Those activities took me to Germany, Japan and China, to name only a few of the special memories my work with TerraLex created. Contrast this with the fact that because international travel was so unusual, firm lawyers who were fortunate enough to travel out of the country in the early years, usually on vacation, were expected to report on their foreign travels at firm meetings.

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Roland

Mr. Paul G. Roland

“Respect, tolerance and perseverance.”

What is your favorite memory from the last 50 years?

I have many, many fond memories of successful jury trials, especially defending members of the Fraternal Order of Police. However, my favorite memory was achieving acquittal prior to jury submission in the trial of my father who had been charged with illegal transportation of lottery tickets in Illinois prior to the time Congress repealed the laws banning sales of lottery tickets countywide.

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Smith

Pearson Smith, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP?

“Keep your eyes on the ball.”

What is the biggest difference between practicing law in 1964 versus today? ?

There was no such thing as email.

What’s your favorite memory of the last 50 years in law??

The standing ovation received by Andy Jacobs Sr. in the late 60s when he entered the IndyBar lunchroom after winning a defamation case against the Star-News.

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Steele

Mr. Sydney L. Steele, Kroger Gardis & Regas LLP

“Do nothing to compromise your reputation.”

What was it like practicing law when you started compared to now?

No voicemail, email or internet. “Cut and paste” was actually “cut and paste.” You had time to breathe between sending a letter and waiting for a response, unlike now when you get an immediate response (sometimes). The practice of law, although tense at times, was a little more leisurely. Also, you knew most of the lawyers in town.

What’s your favorite memory of the last 50 years in law?

There are many, but I fondly remember trying a case before Judge Dillon when he directed the U.S. Marshall to take away in handcuffs a witness I had cross-examined who had clearly lied on the witness stand in the Judge’s court. Yes, there sometimes is justice.

 

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Mr. Stephen W. Sutherlin, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

“The greatest thing a lawyer has is his ego, and the worst thing a lawyer has is his ego.”

What is the biggest difference between practicing law in 1964 versus today?

Technology and the addition of women to the bar. The latter took what was more of a good old boys organization to one with much more integrity and ethics.

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miniBar Talk: This Week’s Top Post!

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‘Tis the Season for Networking: Tips to Make This the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Posted By Andrea L. Ciobanu, Ciobanu Law PC

  1. Always keep one hand free to allow yourself to shake hands with people. This means that you shouldn’t eat and drink at the same time. Remember, you’re there to network, not eat a full-course meal.
  2. Never try to barge into a group of four or more people. Come alongside the group, but do not attempt to enter into the discussion until you’ve made eye contact with everyone and a minimum of two other people in the group have said something.
  3. Initiate conversation with someone who is standing by themselves. They’ll be happy to have someone to talk to them and, as a result, will many times open up with valuable information.
  4. When you meet someone for the first time, you have 48 hours to follow up with them before they will completely forget about meeting you.
  5. A networking event is not a time to see how many business cards you can acquire. Rather, it is a time to develop a few relationships that have potential.
  6. The best location for networking is by a high-traffic area such as a main door, the bar, or near the food.
  7. When receiving a business card from someone, take a moment to write yourself a note on it such as where you met. If you do this while you’re still talking to the person, it will help convey your sense of personal connection.
  8. During the course of a conversation at a networking event, use the other person’s first name two or three times. People always like to hear their own name and it will help you to remember it when the discussion is over.
  9. Rather than telling a new contact all about yourself, spend your time asking them questions. It’s amazing how much you’ll learn!
  10. Prepare an “elevator speech.”  An “elevator speech” gives you an opportunity to provide the most important information about you to everyone you come in contact with.
  11. Show your appreciation by sending thank you notes when appropriate.
  12. Maintain your network by keeping in touch with the people you meet and be sure to update them on important events.

This post was written by Andrea L. Ciobanu, Ciobanu Law PC. If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Indy Attorneys Networking Section, please email Mary Kay Price at mprice@indybar.com.

To subscribe to more Indy Attorneys Network Section news like the article above, click here to update your news subscriptions. Your news subscriptions appear in your bi-weekly E-Bulletin and on your personalized IndyBar homepage.

Keep an eye out for our newest e-newsletter for members, Bar Talk, featuring the top IndyBar posts each month!

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Getting Along is Not Wrong: Friendly Words Speak Volumes About Professionalism

Civility. Courtesy. Respect. Professionalism.

These are words that should be synonymous with “Advocate,” but in a world of high stakes, strong opinions, and a general societal decline in basic manners, how can attorneys fight the good fight while living up to these ideals – especially if the other side doesn’t? We set out to find examples of lawyers who model the way while providing excellent representation.

Getting Along is Not Wrong, an initiative of the IndyBar Standing Committee on Professionalism, is the impressive collection of such positive and compelling behavior. Check out the entry below and continue checking back for future installments.

Courtney S. Figg, Eads Murray & Pugh PC –

The lawyer that has been the biggest mentor to me professionally, even though he does not actively practice law, is Doug Garrison. He is the Chief Communications Officer for the Indiana Department of Correction (DOC) and was my boss when I was a media liaison for the department during law school. Having retired from the FBI prior to joining the DOC, Doug had strong opinions on the criminal justice system and how lawyers fit into that system. Even though I only worked for him for a relatively short time, he was extremely supportive of my law school academics, and he continues to follow up with me now that I am in private practice. Doug left a lasting impression on me by showing that having a pleasant, friendly demeanor and a willingness to talk to the other side, with whom I may disagree, will ultimately make me happier in my life and practice. It will also speak volumes about my professionalism and reputation down the road.

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It’s Dues Renewal Time!

Renew your membership in the only local organization singularly committed to the Indianapolis legal community and its practitioners. Bolstered by more than 5,000 members, the Indianapolis Bar Association and its leaders work tirelessly to provide resources, programming and initiatives to make your career more successful, more efficient, and more satisfying.

Jump online to indybar.org/renew to renew your membership, or simply return the printed renewal statement mailed in early October. Questions or concerns? Contact us at iba@indybar.org.

We’re working for you. These initiatives and much more have launched or are underway to benefit YOU as an IndyBar member:

Adapting to your changing needs. The legal community is constantly evolving. The IndyBar is responding to maximize your success and satisfaction in the practice of law with brand-new initiatives like the Innovation and Research Council and Law Practice Management Task Force.

CLE on your schedule. Learning while earning CLE credits is a breeze with the IndyBar. Visit our conveniently located Education Center, where we host the most one-hour programs in the region, and gain top-notch education from respected practitioners.

Customized, robust communications. With more than 800 articles on 23 different topics posted in the last 11 months alone, IndyBar news subscriptions give you the power to dictate how you receive the news that’s most important to you and your practice.

With you on the go. Accessing the member directory and registering for programs on your phone is a snap with the bar’s mobile-optimized website, plus you can earn CLE credits from the comfort of your couch with more than 150 programs in the Online CLE catalog.

Investment in your business success. Whether through the Lawyer Referral Service, Indy Lawyer Finder or the Modest Means project, we’re working to bring clients to your door. Plus, the IndyBar’s powerful networking opportunities mean business from attorney referrals.

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miniBar Talk: This Week’s Top Post!

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Using Graphics in Litigation Settings

By Timothy F. Devereux, Ladendorf Law

Any litigator in today’s legal environment needs to understand the importance of initially engaging and then keeping the attention of a jury or a judge. We attorneys are faced with exceptionally savvy jurors who have been raised as consumers of multimedia presentations and who expect to be entertained as they learn new information. As noted by Ryan H. Flax of Litigation Consulting, “It is well known and generally accepted by the top performers in the litigation community that you need to use demonstrative evidence, including litigation graphics, to be persuasive at trial.” Studies have shown that when a litigator uses graphics as part of their presentation, jurors believe that the attorney using them was more capable, better prepared and probably more likable.

For more information on this topic, check out this article.

To subscribe to more Litigation Section news like the article above, click here to update your news subscriptions. Your news subscriptions appear in your bi-weekly E-Bulletin and on your personalized IndyBar homepage.

Keep an eye out for our newest e-newsletter for members, Bar Talk, featuring the top IndyBar posts each month!

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Abrams: Leaders and Volunteers Recognized at Annual Luncheon

By Jeffrey A. Abrams, Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP

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If you did not attend the IndyBar Recognition Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 13, you really missed out. We were able to recognize a select group of stellar performers to our profession and the IndyBar during the course of the year. Choices were so very difficult to make since we have had an extraordinary number of volunteers this year go above and beyond what might have been expected of them in their roles.

My President’s Award for Service to the Association was given to John Kautzman of Ruckelshaus Kautzman Blackwell Bemis & Hasbrook, who chairs our Justice Center Committee. John has been involved with this initiative for nearly 20 years as interest ebbed and flowed for this type of project. When the bar learned last fall that the mayor was promoting a Justice Center, we quickly reconvened the committee and John, with many others, spent tireless hours chasing down city representatives and information regarding this project. He recently had to execute a confidentiality agreement as he sat through proposals from prospective bidders which, if thoroughly followed, may have prevented him from disclosing his name, place of employment and residence to his wife and friends. Fortunately, we know where to find him as he perseveres and continues to work diligently as we see how this project evolves.

The President’s Award for Service to the Profession was given to the IndyBar Diversity Job Fair Committee chaired in 2014 by Sara R. Blevins of Lewis & Kappes PC. This project has grown over the past several years to an incredible level of participation this year with over 400 scheduled interviews by 28 firms and companies with 84 registered students and 18 sponsors. Several students have already received and accepted offers for employment. This committee was also recognized this year by the American Bar Association at its annual meeting for its service to the community and our profession.

B. Ronan Johnson with Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP was awarded the Young Lawyer of the Year. As a young attorney, he is already incredibly active in the community with United Way of Central Indiana, Meals on Wheels of Central Indiana, Penrod Society, Leadership Indianapolis and Methodist Health Foundation. Most notably, Ronan created the IndyBar’s Intro to Indy series which provides opportunities for young lawyers to co-host with other organizations around town and learn more about how we can serve the community. He has enlisted the Indianapolis Zoo Associate Council, the Emerging Leaders of United Way, Leadership Indianapolis and Young Professionals of Central Indiana for participation. This creative and innovative project was developed by Ronan while he was sitting at his office looking out the window contemplating his next major transaction for Taft. Congratulations to Ronan and keep up the continued creativity for the profession.

The Board of Directors Award and the IndyBar Pro Bono Law Firm Award went to Richard A. Mann and Richard A. Mann PC. Rick has chaired the Family Law Section in 2014 and was extremely involved in providing input to the Board of Directors and information to its section members regarding HJR-3 and other same-sex marriage developments during the course of the year. Communications to its members has been flawless and the educational seminars extremely well received. On the pro bono front, attorneys from his firm have volunteered as guardians ad litem in juvenile delinquent cases and spent more than 240 hours assisting incapacitated adults and other parties. We truly appreciate Rick being a role model for those in the firm, in the Family Law Section and the entire legal community.

The other IndyBar Pro Bono Awards went to Deborah K. Binkley, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, for paralegals, Tyler J. Smith, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law for law students and Jacqueline Pimentel-Gannon, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, for attorneys aiding individuals.

Debi has served as site coordinator for the Ask A Lawyer Program for several years and helps recruit and train other paralegals for this role. She has used her creativity and ingenuity to make the program better.

Tyler has contributed an incredible 375 pro bono hours through the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic’s expungement help desk at the City-County Building while attending law school in the evening and being a student ambassador for the admissions office. He is an exemplary law student who will become an outstanding attorney.

Jacqueline has contributed over 500 hours of pro bono service in her three years at the law firm. She volunteers for the IndyBar’s Ask A Lawyer Program, the Low Asset Wills Program and the Firm’s EMBRACE Program. She has prepared wills and advanced directives for a Lilly/Faegre clinic held at Eskenazi Health and for the recent Wills For Heroes Program. Her efforts have been tireless while continuing to practice law on the side.

Ian Goodman provided accolades for the law firms who have worked diligently to practice law in ways that are environmentally safe and sustainable. Over 20 firms and businesses were recognized as 2014 Green Legal Initiative members, and the list can be found on the IndyBar website.

Over 40 attorneys were selected to participate in the Indianapolis Bar Foundation Class of Distinguished Fellows and over 25 “seasoned” attorneys were selected to the Indianapolis Bar Foundation Class of Distinguished Seniors Fellows. We were also blessed to have 14 attorneys honored for having achieved 50 years of practice, which is an incredibly noteworthy achievement. Syd Steele, one of our 50-year practitioners, was sitting at our table and was anxiously awaiting the conclusion of the lunch so that he could rush out to a deposition that he needed to attend for one of his clients. So many of these attorneys are still actively practicing in our community, enjoying the profession they have served for 50 years.

I can’t think of a better way to spend an hour with fellow attorneys than to recognize those who have sacrificed time with family, friends and clients in advancing justice and service to our profession and community. Congratulations to all those honorees and everyone else who gives so freely of their time. It makes my job so much easier.

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Event Connects Pro Bono Providers and Social Service Agencies

Among community-focused organizations in Indianapolis, the mission is often the same—assisting neighbors in need. But what happens when a question or situation arises that is outside of the scope or expertise of an agency or organization?

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“Legal Connect,” an open house hosted by the IndyBar Pro Bono Standing Committee on Nov. 6, set out to solve that problem by connecting social service agencies, government agencies and not-for-profit organizations—many of which may often field questions dealing with legal issues—with entities that provide free or reduced-fee legal services to low income populations.

Attendees learned about IndyBar-sponsored pro bono programs and met with representatives from several of the city’s legal service providers, including the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society, Indiana Legal Services and the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic. Attendees were also able to find out what types of services these organizations provide, which individuals qualify for assistance and how they can guide members of the public in need to the most appropriate legal advice program or representation.

Do you know of an agency or organization that would benefit from learning about pro bono and legal services options offered by the IndyBar or local providers? Contact Caren Chopp at cchopp@indybar.org.
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“The Legal Connect event was an excellent way to connect with providers working with individuals in the community who might need our legal services. It was by far one of the most practical and helpful networking events I have attended this year.”

Erin Houghland, Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic
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“The event was a great way to connect with people that work with those in the community that need legal resources, but don’t where to find them. …As an exhibitor, I learned a lot too–where there is need and how my organization, Kids’ Voice of Indiana and The Children’s Law Center, can help educate people, especially regarding legal issues with children.”

Lindsay Faulkenberg, Kids’ Voice of Indiana
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“Legal Connect was a great way to see what else is going on in the Indianapolis community and to imagine how my agency might connect with others.”

Tim Winn, Catholic Charities Indianapolis

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IndyBar Member Headlines: Thursday, November 20

Share your news with the IndyBar by contacting Mary Kay Price, Director of Marketing & Communications, at mprice@indybar.org.

Heather L. Wilson of Frost Brown Todd LLC has received the Indiana Chamber of Commerce 2014 Volunteer of the Year award.

Brenda A. Roper, managing attorney of B.A. Roper & Associates LLC, has been elected through party caucus as judge of Center Township Small Claims Court of Marion County.

Dick Freije, partner at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, has been elected to the District 2 seat on the Lawrence Township School Board.

Deborah J. Daniels has been elected as Krieg DeVault’s new Managing Partner.

Randall T. Shepard, professor at Indiana University McKinney School of Law, was chosen for the National Jurist’s list of the Most Influential People in Legal Education.

Andrew Mallor of Mallor Grodner LLP is the first Indiana attorney selected for membership in the American College of Family Trial Lawyers.

Angela Green of Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP has been selected as co-chair of the Insurance Subcommittee of the ABA’s Environmental Litigation Section.

Jon Laramore, partner at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, has been elected as chair of the Indiana Legal Foundation’s legal advisory committee.

Peter J. Prettyman has joined Indiana Municipal Power Agency as vice president and general counsel. He previously was at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP in Indianapolis.

Matthew Burkhart has joined Faegre Baker Daniels LLP’s business litigation team.

Daniel Lewallen has joined Faegre Baker Daniel LLP’s insurance team.

Jessica Hockemeyer has joined Faegre Baker Daniels LLP and is a member of the firm’s finance and restructuring practice.

Abrahim J. Shanehsaz has joined Krieg DeVault LLP as an associate in the firm’s intellectual property, creditors’ rights and bankruptcy practice groups.

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Getting Along is Not Wrong: Role Models from the Bench and Bar

Civility. Courtesy. Respect. Professionalism. These are words that should be synonymous with “Advocate” but in a world of high stakes, strong opinions, and a general, societal decline in basic manners, how can attorneys fight the good fight while living up to these ideals – especially if the other side doesn’t? We set out to find examples of lawyers who model the way while providing excellent representation.

Getting Along is Not Wrong, an initiative of the IndyBar Standing Committee on Professionalism, is the impressive collection of such positive and compelling behavior. Check out the newest entry below.

Mr. John R. Maley, Barnes & Thornburg LLP

I was fortunate to have a father/mentor, Bob Maley, who epitomized all that is good about the bar. I learned from him primarily by being around him every day growing up, seeing how he treated people, and on occasion, watching him in court. He knew everyone by first name wherever he went and was kind to all. He took his work and clients seriously but not himself. Since he passed away several years ago, I have learned more about him from those in the community that he quietly served, including many pro bono clients. If I can be half the gentleman, advocate and counselor that he was, I will have done him proud.

I was also fortunate to clerk for Judge Larry J. McKinney at the start of my career. I learned from him that the work we do is serious but that we should not take ourselves too seriously. I also learned from Judge McKinney that lawyer civility is essential. He expected this from all in his court, and he treats counsel with respect.

While clerking I was able to observe and get to know Neil Shook during lengthy proceedings in Judge McKinney’s court. He was the consummate professional even in challenging situations. Thereafter, I came to know him better through bar association service, including his years as an IndyBar leader and eventual president. Neil served as a great example for all lawyers. I remember him often and am thankful for having learned from him.

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IndyBar Hosts Largest Pro Bono Event in its History

By The Hon. Mark D. Stoner, Marion Superior Court; 2014 IndyBar Pro Bono Standing Committee Chair

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I had an opportunity to witness history the other day. The morning of Oct. 14 started ominously enough, with dark thunderclouds surrounding the city. At noon, it looked like we could even have a tornado. By 2 o’clock, however, the clouds moved off and a glorious, warm sunshine emerged. It was a perfect day for the IndyBar’s semi-annual Ask a Lawyer (AAL) event and, by day’s end, volunteer lawyers, paralegals, and various support staff had provided free legal advice to more than 760 Indianapolis residents.

The IndyBar has hosted this event twice a year for over 15 years. The current Pro Bono Standing Committee has greatly expanded this program in recent years. Five years ago, the program routinely served less than 350 persons. With this year’s success, we have doubled that effort and believe we can accomplish even more.

To achieve this success involves a substantial amount of work. First, everything runs through Caren Chopp, the IndyBar staff liaison to the committee. As with other IndyBar staff members, Caren provides outstanding organizational and logistical support. It is through her contacts, mailing lists and other resources that we have over 120 lawyers and approximately 20 paralegals and law students who volunteer for this event. In addition, there are flyers, posters, information sheets, and, most importantly, the constantly updated subject matter summaries that supply the volunteers with basic information for their consultations. Caren oversees this project, as well as all other pro bono projects throughout the year, and constantly improvises when the committee makes changes to the program.

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Attorney volunteer John Cross, Mercer Belanger PC, talks with a member of the public at the Glendale branch of the Indianapolis Public Library during the Oct. 2014 Ask a Lawyer event.

Along with these organizational skills, this year’s AAL had tremendous support as the event’s former co-chairs Stephanie Chaudhary, Riley Bennett & Egloff LLP, and Ned Mulligan, Cohen & Malad LLP, passed the torch to Melissa De Groff, Kroger Gardis & Regas LLP, and James Carter, Thrasher Buschmann & Voelkel PC. The chairs visited numerous organizations and distributed information and materials to promote the event. In addition, they provided interviews to all the major local television stations, wrote letters to newspapers and made this the best publicized IndyBar media event in recent memory. It didn’t matter if the interview was in the early morning hours on Sunday or in prime time, these chairs and other committee members were pushing AAL and the IndyBar’s other pro bono programs into the public eye.

One of the things I do during each Ask a Lawyer event is drive throughout the county, visiting as many sites as possible. For an elected official, it is almost like visiting the polls on Election Day. It gives me the opportunity to personally thank all the lawyers, librarians, site coordinators and other volunteers who make this event such a success. Stephanie Chaudhary, who will chair the Pro Bono Standing Committee next year, accompanied me and survived my driving skills (or lack thereof) and constant shortcuts. Hopefully, she has recovered by now. It is impossible to cover all the sites, as we are constantly expanding. This year we added the Veterans Administration headquarters and the Beech Grove Senior Center. Stephanie and I made all but two of the 13 locations.

These visits gave us an opportunity to acknowledge the library staff who graciously make their rooms available and help publicize these events. The Indianapolis Public Library system is an invaluable community resource. It is always fascinating to see how many different forms our libraries take: there are the traditional Carnegie buildings with their grandeur and history, but there are also libraries in modern buildings, strip malls and other facilities. They all have community rooms where our lawyers do their consultations in semi- private settings. Perhaps the most encouraging thing about the libraries is they are almost always full when we visit mid-day. For lawyers, who value the power of books, education and learning so much, this is a gratifying experience. Amazon, Kindle and e-books continue to provide new forms of expanding the printed word, but our libraries still provide the physical location and resources where everyone can gather, learn and participate in community events. That is why we rely so heavily on them for AAL and are so thankful for the support of Indianapolis Public Library CEO Jackie Nytes, the library board, and the librarians themselves.

I cannot overemphasize how grateful the public is for this event and for the lawyers who give so freely of their time and advice. When Stephanie and I would interrupt their consultations to thank the lawyers, we were met with smiles and polite “thank yous” from almost everyone. One person remarked, “It means a lot that you care.” Another said, “We really love this program and all that the lawyers do.”

Some folks were having simple conversations with the lawyers, but others brought mounds of paperwork and really prepared for this event. Everyone knows the lawyer cannot completely solve their problems, but they are grateful for any assistance we can provide. One librarian shared with me that she had consulted an AAL attorney several years ago and used that advice to start a small publishing business. As a result, she had published her first books earlier this spring. Truly, you never know what a difference you can make in someone’s life until you reach out and help.

Finally, the real stars of this event are the lawyers themselves. Some of them were doing it for the first time; there were several just weeks from graduation and passing the bar. A large number of the lawyers and paralegals, however, have done this year after year after year. Almost without exception, everyone was happy to provide this service and recognized the smiles and recognition from the public. Many of them have jobs that do not provide much client contact, while others specialize in legal areas far removed from basic landlord-tenant, employment and contract questions. The lawyers themselves were genuinely grateful for the contact with the public and to hear so much praise for lawyers in return. Special recognition goes to the lawyers and site coordinators serving the Glendale library who stayed an hour past closing time to ensure every citizen who was there received assistance.

The last thing I want to mention is the continuing support of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation. Without the IBF’s generous financial support, none of this could be possible. This crucial support is why we need to support the annual Evening Under the Stars Dinner and Auction, as well as other IBF fundraisers. We get the chance to dress up, share stories, enjoy each other’s company, and spend and raise money so the less glamorous but equally important work of serving the public in providing community leadership can occur with our pro bono services. For that we can all be grateful.

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