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Getting Along is Not Wrong: Family Law – Family Style

Getting Along Logo v1Civility. 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.

Family Law—Family Style

Sarah Starkey, Cohen Garelick & Glazier

Working in the area of family law, cases are often highly contentious. I feel extremely lucky to practice in the area of family law in the state of Indiana as I get the opportunity to work with so many great attorneys. It is often very difficult to separate your feelings from those of your client while remaining a strong advocate. I think the good attorneys do just that—they stay professional and civil all while advocating for their clients.

I have had several cases with Sheila Marshall, a highly experienced family law attorney. Not only is Sheila always civil, she goes out of her way to be nice, as does her staff. Sheila and I have been able to settle several cases over the years, and the few times we have not, we have done our job to litigate for our clients, always remaining civil with one another. I think that people believe that for a family law attorney to be considered a “bulldog” he or she has to be nasty and aggressive. That simply is not the case.

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Disruptive Innovation: Lawyers Must Pay Attention

IBA-trimble-john-2015During the recent American Bar Association meeting in Chicago, the National Conference of Bar Presidents presented a panel discussion on the popular subject of Disruptive Innovation. The panel of experts included senior officers of two of the leading online legal providers, Legal Zoom and Avvo. The discussion was eye opening.

To date, more than a million corporations have been incorporated using forms from Legal Zoom. In addition to forms, Legal Zoom now has a network of lawyers who can be called for a flat fee for subject matter or procedural advice on a wide array of issues.

Avvo now has 75,000 legal questions and answers arranged by subject matter for consumers to access free of charge. Avvo’s database has bio pages for tens of thousands of lawyers. Chances are that the majority of readers of this article have an existing bio that they have never seen and didn’t know existed. Avvo lawyer ratings are rapidly overtaking other lawyer rating services for popularity. If you have not checked your Avvo bio and studied your Avvo rating, you should…consumers are seeing it every day. Avvo also provides forms and packages for consumers to represent themselves. Avvo and Legal Zoom forms for divorces and wills are hugely popular.

The leaders of Legal Zoom and Avvo told us that their mission is to make access to justice possible for as many people as possible. They concede that they do not want the top one percent of the legal market, nor do they want the bottom fifteen percent of the hopelessly poor. However, they view the roughly eighty-five percent in between as fair game. Indeed, they cited a recent report by LawMediaLabs, Inc., that estimates that there is an untapped “latent legal market” worth annual fees of $45 billion. This “latent” market consists of the legions of middle-class consumers who do not consume legal services because they believe they cannot afford them or they want to represent themselves.

According to Wikipedia, the term “disruptive innovation” has been loosely defined as “an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.” What it really represents to all of us is the change in our profession that is coming at us as fast as a tsunami. As big as Legal Zoom and Avvo seem, they are merely the tip of the iceberg. Virtually every task we lawyers undertake is being studied by an innovator, and we can expect competition and change in about every practice area.

I would like to tell you that there is no cause for alarm, but to lawyers who handle consumer transactions, family matters, wills, bankruptcies and other staples of solo and small practice firms, the innovations in technology and online offerings are a serious threat.

Everyone who will potentially be impacted by new innovations must study the competition and be prepared to adapt their practice so that competition with the innovators will be possible. Many of you will have to put more information online about your services and how you will charge. Cafeteria menus of services with hourly or flat-fee pricing may need to be posted. All bar associations, including the IndyBar, will have to provide forums for discussion, seminars, and training so that our members can remain viable. This is not something we can put off until tomorrow. The changes are happening today.

We can take some solace in the fact that the proper practice of much law requires educated and informed judgment. Consumers will still need to consult lawyers to help them make choices in many instances. Some consumers will make uninformed choices online and will need lawyers to correct their errors.

However, as the consumer population gets younger, we can expect younger consumers to place trust in the Internet. Innovative Disruption is real and all lawyers must pay attention.

#WillYouBeThere?

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On Tap at the IndyBar: August 10 – 16

Everybody loves a local bar, so check out what yours is serving up this week with upcoming IndyBar events and happenings below!

On the Docket

Appellate Practice Section Baseball Outing
Tuesday, August 11 from 5:30 to 11 p.m.
Victory Field – Left field picnic area
Information and registration can be found here.

Litigation Trial Skills Series: Evidence
Wednesday, August 12 from noon to 1 p.m.
IndyBar Education Center
Information and registration can be found here.

Intro to Indy Series Networking Event with IndyHub
Thursday, August 13 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Georgia Street Boardwalk
Information and registration can be found here.

Check out the full slate of IndyBar events here, and don’t forget to check out the IndyBar on Facebook for the latest event photos.

News You Can Use

  • Free CLE Available at Pro Bono Training – The Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic and the IndyBar have teamed up to offer a free training on August 15 to empower local attorneys to help children who desperately need legal assistance. Click here for more information.
  • Nominations Open for Professionalism Awards - The IndyBar Professionalism Committee is currently soliciting nominations for the 2015 IndyBar Professionalism Award (Attorney) and IndyBar Silver Gavel Award (Judge). Nominations are due by 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 20. Get more information here.
  • Nominations for Board of Directors are Due This Week – The nomination period has begun for the 2016 Board of Directors of the Indianapolis Bar Association. Those interested should forward a letter of interest or nomination form to the IndyBar office by August 13, 2015. Click here to read more about the selection committee and for more information.
  • The Glass is Half Full at the IndyBar! – We have a lot in store for the next six months, and non-members can check it out for HALF PRICE for a limited time. Plus, included with this half price dues offer is six months FREE on Indy Lawyer Finder (a $900 value!).  Check out the details.
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miniBar Talk: This Week’s Top Post

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EEOC Ruling Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination Under Title VII

Provided by the Labor & Employment Law Section Executive Committee

The EEOC is continuing its efforts to ensure the equal employment opportunities of LGBT workers. Here are two articles describing a recent order:

  1. EEOC Declares That Federal Law Prohibits Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation
  2. What Does the Recent EEOC Ruling Prohibiting Sexual Orientation Discrimination Under Title VII Mean for Employers?

Would you like to submit or write content for the Labor & Employment Law Section webpage? It’s easy! To get started, email Rachel Beachy at rbeachy@indybar.org.

To subscribe to more labor and employment law 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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Free CLE Available at Pro Bono Training

The Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic and the IndyBar have teamed up to offer a free training on August 15 to empower local attorneys to help children who desperately need legal assistance.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Visas are designed to protect children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both of their parents. This topic is of particular importance right now because of the number of youth fleeing their home countries and seeking refuge in the United States. The nuts and bolts of this type of visa will be covered during this training and will help prepare attendees to take on Special Immigrant Juvenile Cases.

Speaker Alexandra Fung is the managing attorney for the National Immigrant Justice Center’s Immigrant Children’s Protection Project, which provides legal services to detained and non-detained unaccompanied immigrant children.

This program will take place at the IndyBar Education Center on Thursday, August 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. and is offered at no cost to those who take one case. The cost is $50 for all other attendees. Find additional information and registration online at nclegalclinic.org.

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On Tap at the IndyBar: August 3 – 9

Everybody loves a local bar, so check out what yours is serving up this week with upcoming IndyBar events and happenings below!

On the Docket

Trademarks at the Supreme Court: What Practitioners Need to Know
Tuesday, August 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
IndyBar Education Center
Information and registration can be found here.

Patents at the Supreme Court: What Practitioners Need to Know
Tuesday, August 4 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
IndyBar Education Center
Information and registration can be found here.

United States Supreme Court: A Review (and Preview) of Recent Cases
Wednesday, August 5 from noon to 1 p.m.
IndyBar Education Center
Information and registration can be found here.

MPRE Review Course
Thursday, August 6 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
IndyBar Education Center
Information and registration can be found here.

2015 Diversity Job Fair Reception
Thursday, August 6 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
The Alexander, 333 S. Delaware
Information and registration can be found here.

2015 Diversity and the Law Luncheon
Friday, August 7 from noon to 1 p.m.
Hilton Indianapolis, 120 W. Market St.
Information and registration can be found here.

Women and the Law at the Symphony: Music of the Beatles
Saturday, August 8 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

Check out the full slate of IndyBar events here, and don’t forget to check out the IndyBar on Facebook for the latest event photos.

News You Can Use

  • Implicit Bias: We All Have It - IndyBar President John C. Trimble’s latest article talks about the importance of understanding your own implicit biases in order to be the best lawyer you can be. Read more here.
  • Civility, Courtesy, Respect - Check out the latest Getting Along Is Not Wrong entry to find out how one Indianapolis lawyer left a lasting impression making professionalism a priority.
  • Nominations Open for Professionalism Awards - The IndyBar Professionalism Committee is currently soliciting nominations for the 2015 IndyBar Professionalism Award (Attorney) and IndyBar Silver Gavel Award (Judge). Nominations are due by 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 20. Get more information here.
  • Member Headlines: Thursday, July 30 – IndyBar members finished the month strong. Check out the latest updates on Indy legal professionals here.
  • Nominations Now Accepted for Board of Directors – The nomination period has begun for the 2016 Board of Directors of the Indianapolis Bar Association. Those interested should forward a letter of interest or nomination form to the IndyBar office by August 13, 2015. Click here to read more about the selection committee and for more information.
  • The Glass is Half Full at the IndyBar! – We have a lot in store for the next six months, and non-members can check it out for HALF PRICE for a limited time. Plus, included with this half price dues offer is six months FREE on Indy Lawyer Finder (a $900 value!).  Check out the details.
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Civility, Courtesy, Respect

Getting Along Logo v1Civility. 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.

The Power of a Simple Gesture

Matt Neumann, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP

One anecdote of “professionalism” that comes to mind was a case opposite Travis Jensen of Johnson Jensen LLP. Some heated depositions and contentious discovery in the social media realm made it a unique and challenging case. I would characterize the litigation as hard-fought but civil and professional in all respects.

The case settled before trial, and Travis took a brief moment to call and tell me that he had enjoyed working on the case and commended me and the other lawyers involved in the case on a job well done. To a relatively young attorney, this was a meaningful gesture. It multiplied my respect for Travis, which was not lacking to begin with, and galvanized my opinion that civility and professionalism can be maintained even in contentious litigation.

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miniBar Talk: This Week’s Top Post

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Interstate Medical License Compact Makes it Easier for Multi-State Physicians

By Alao Mayo, Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman PC

Alabama and Minnesota have become the seventh and eight states to adopt model legislation seeking to realize the full potential of telemedicine. With these two states on board, Federation of State Medical Board’s interstate compact becomes a reality making it easier for physicians to become licensed in multiple states and help alleviate physician shortages in rural and underserved regions.Read more here.

This post was written by Alao Mayo of Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman PC. If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Health Care and Life Sciences Section page, please email Rachel Beachy at rbeachy@indybar.org.

To subscribe to more sports and entertainment law 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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Implicit Bias: We All Have It

IBA-trimble-john-2015Imagine for a moment: A senior partner in a law firm is caught in an impromptu partner meeting as a important new client arrives at the firm. The client is placed in a conference room and grows increasingly angry as a short wait turns into 20 minutes. An associate greets the partner as the partner exits the meeting and advises that the new client is irate. As the partner opens the door to the conference room chest pains erupt. The associate sees the pain on the face of the partner and runs immediately to call 911…

Here is the little quiz: As you read the description of the events above, how did you see the characters in your mind’s eye? Is the senior partner male or female? Black or white? Young or old? Is the associate male or female? Black or white? Young or more senior? Is the irate client male or female? Black or white? Young or old?

There are no right or wrong answers to this quiz; the images of the characters in your mind’s eye were not based upon fact because the descriptions were neutral. Your images were a product of what has come to be known as “implicit bias.”

So, what is implicit bias? According to the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University, implicit bias refers to “the attitudes and stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control….[I]mplicit biases are not accessible through introspection.”

Implicit biases are the fabric of who we are. They are the product of our upbringing, education, experiences, neighborhoods, television, social media, and what we have consciously learned or unconsciously learned from our families and friends. Our implicit biases are impacted by the regions of the country where we were raised and by differences between, urban, suburban, and rural living. Almost anything that has touched our life during our formative years has had an impact on our implicit bias.

Clearly, your implicit bias impacts how you interact with anyone who may be different from you. Your implicit bias also impacts how you react to everyday situations, to news stories, to politics, and to co-workers and friends. It also impacts how judges judge, how lawyers represent clients, and how juries decide cases.

Psychologists and social scientists will tell you that implicit bias impacts where you will sit in the waiting room of your doctor’s office. It will impact how you feel if you are pulled over by a police officer for a traffic offense. And, as demonstrated by the scenario at the outset of this article, implicit bias will cause you to assume things about other people or the stories you hear even when the facts don’t support your assumptions.

Unfortunately for all of us, we cannot change our implicit biases. They are embedded. We cannot control them. However, we can recognize that we have implicit bias, and we can also recognize that others may be seeing things as a result of their own implicit biases. While we cannot control them, we can recognize them when they surface, and we can do our best to behave in a way that overcomes our implicit biases. We can pause, assess our reaction to a person or event, and seek to be objective and to see things through the other person’s eyes. Recognition of our implicit biases can help us all accept and embrace greater diversity of all types. It can help us overcome prejudices.

Implicit bias is one of the most significant reasons why many people resist change. We are more comfortable with what we know, who we know, and what we like. Our legal profession is changing rapidly and in ways we do not yet recognize. All of us are going to have to wrestle with our implicit biases if we wish to succeed as we are confronted by change.

You may ask, “Why is any of this important?” My answer is simple. Lawyers and judges make, interpret, and administer law. We stand up to speak when the public is concerned or enraged by a recent event. We are called on as individuals and in our profession to be the voice of calm and reason. Most importantly, we are the guardians of our system of justice. If we do not understand our implicit biases, then we will be challenged in our ability to carry out the responsibilities we have as lawyers in our society. We lawyers as a profession need to be as objective and unbiased as we possibly can be.

Is it difficult? Yes. Can we do it? Yes, but only if we are aware of our implicit biases and overcome them. #WILLYOUBETHERE?

I wish to acknowledge Arin Reeves of Nextions for enlightenment on this subject and for the “senior partner” example I cited.

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IndyBar Member Headlines: Thursday, July 30

Share your news with the IndyBar by contacting Rachel Beachy, Communications Coordinator, at rbeachy@indybar.org.

Josh Minkler has been sworn in as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

Michele Richey of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP has been selected as a member of the Make-A-Wish Indiana Young Professional Advisory Council.

 

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