Abrams: Professionalism and Civility

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


This past week made two marks on my personal challenge to promote and encourage professionalism and civility. On Tuesday, the IndyBar honored Justice Brent Dickson and Philip “Skip” Kappes with the Silver Gavel Award and 2014 Professionalism Award. These two individuals demonstrate the epitome of class, civility and professionalism in our world. Justice Dickson had a remarkable career in Lafayette prior to ascending to the Supreme Court. He led our Supreme Court for several years with distinction. Skip Kappes, at the young age of 92, still provides leadership and counsel to the young attorneys at Lewis & Kappes while being known as one of the best and kindest attorneys in our community.

Our Professionalism Committee, chaired by Tricia McMath, did a superlative job in recognizing these two individuals for service to our community and to our profession. If you see Tricia or any of her committee members (listed below), please thank them for their tireless efforts in promoting professionalism and civility in our community in recognizing these two pioneers of remarkable vintage.

2014 IndyBar Standing Committee on Professionalism


Patricia Caress McMath, Marion County Public Defender Agency

Committee Members:

Kellie M. Barr, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana

Marie D. Castetter, Foley & Abbott

Justice Steven H. David, Indiana Supreme Court

Erin M. Durnell, Broyles Kight & Ricafort PC

Courtney S. Figg, Eads Murray &Pugh PC

Laura E. Gorman, Barnes & Thornburg LLP

Hon. Clayton A. Graham, Marion Superior Court

Susanne A. Heckler, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana

Daniel W. Kiehl, Law Office of Deborah M. Agard

Amanda J. Miller, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

MaryAnn Totino Mindrum, U.S. Attorney’s Office

Kevin A. Morrissey, Lewis & Kappes PC

Magistrate Victoria M. Ransberger, Marion Superior Court

Charles P. Schmal, Woodard Emhardt Moriarty McNett & Henry LLP

Fenton D. Strickland, Indiana Supreme Court

James H. Voyles Jr., Voyles Zahn & Paul

Hon. Heather A. Welch, Marion Superior Court

Brian K. Zoeller, Cohen & Malad LLP

Beginning Friday night and continuing until sundown on Saturday, I spent time in our Temple at Yom Kippur Services where we repented for transgressions against God as well transgressions against each other. I spent several hours contemplating how I can personally continue to improve how I treat people and conduct my life. All of us have times where we regretted sending that email or speaking those words. But we are human and make mistakes. We can, however, strive to improve our legal community by making wise choices and respecting the people with whom we work.

Ted Koppel once said, “Aspire to decency. Practice stability toward one another. Admire and emulate ethical behavior whenever you find it. Apply a rigid standard of morality to your life; and if, periodically, you fail as you surely will adjust your lives, not the standards.” And P.T. Barnum once said, “Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business. Large doors, gilt signs, flaming advertisements, will all prove unavailing if you or your employees treat your patrons abruptly. The truth is, the more kind and liberal a man is, the more generous will be the patronage bestowed upon him.”

These two wise men said it quite well. And you always have the sage advice from the “Golden Rule” – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is just as easy to speak kindly to the attorney on the other side of the court room or a deal as to be rude, abrasive and annoying.

Wake up every morning and remember to say something kind to at least one person throughout your day. You will be remembered for those kind words more than winning a case or extracting terms in a document. The choice is always yours and I would encourage you to strive to make the right one. The quality and success of your career will ALWAYS be enhanced if you follow these simple rules.

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IndyBar Member Headlines: Thursday, October 9

Share your news with the IndyBar by contacting Mary Kay Price, Director of Marketing & Communications, at

Brent D. Mosby has joined Ice Miller LLP’s business group as of counsel.

Shokrina Beering has been named Indiana University associate vice president for capital planning and facilities.

Theresa M. Ringle has joined Kopka Pinkus Dolin. & Eads PC and will focus on architecture and construction defense.

Leslie B. Pollie has joined Kopka Pinkus Dolin. & Eads PC and will focus on insurance defense.

Julia S. Hudson has joined Quarles & Brady LLP’s health law group as an associate.

Amy L. Stewart, family law and divorce attorney, and Timothy J. Bender, trust and estate planning attorney, have joined Mallor Grodner LLP as partners.

Daniel S. Chamberlain has joined Cohen & Malad LLP as a partner.


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Getting Along Is Not Wrong: Family Law Role Models

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, and find new installments online at

Mr. Eric J. Olson, Olson Law Office LLC -

I have been practicing law for about 11 years and have always done family law. I would estimate that I have handled more than 100 family law cases in those 11 years. Three attorneys stand out to me over those years.

First, Drew Soshnick. I opposed Drew on a case about three years ago. Drew has a reputation of being one of the best and most sought after attorneys in our state. Drew could not have been more fair, honest and accessible to me during our case. Since that case, Drew has offered me his mobile number and has always promptly returned phone calls of mine when I had any questions.

Second, Sheila Marshall. I have opposed Shelia on two different cases. Sheila was also very kind, honest and fair. Sheila is a wonderful attorney and a difficult attorney to oppose – not because she is unprofessional in any way, but because she is a very hard worker.

Finally, Erin Durnell. I found her to be very ethical, fair, honest and accessible. I also remember Erin offering evidence that could have been kept away from me until she needed it for rebuttal, which would have blindsided me. I will remember that and have very high respect for Erin.

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Bar Talk October: Legal News You Need to Know

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The latest legal scoop to keep you in the loop: Here are the top five stories from the IndyBar this month.

Please note: IndyBar news and updates are provided as a member benefit. You may be prompted to log-in to view some articles

Second Annual Day of Service a Success
By Andrea L. Ciobanu, Ciobanu Law PC
Indy Attorneys Network Section members volunteered their time for the second Annual Day of Service on September 20. Find out more about what they did and check out pictures from the day in this post by Andrea Ciobanu.
For more Indy Attorneys Network Section news, subscribe to this content here!

Indiana Supreme Court Reaffirms Separate Indiana Summary Judgment Standard
By Arend J. Abel, Cohen & Malad LLP
A unanimous Indiana Supreme Court decision has reaffirmed the Indiana summary judgment standard. Read more about the case in this piece by Arend J. Abel.
For more Appellate Practice Section news, subscribe to this content here!

WLD Volunteers: Making Meals and Making a Difference
By Roxana Bell, Bingham Greenbaum Doll LLP
Dozens of Women and the Law Division volunteers prepared meals for The Julian Center and Eskenazi EMBRACE Program’s families on September 6 and September 9. Roxana Bell writes about the event and what participants did to help in this post.
For more Women and the Law Division news, subscribe to this content here!

IP Attorney Deals in Digital Currency
IndyBar member Paul Overhauser is one of the only attorneys in the state to adopt Bitcoin into his legal practice, and a segment of his clients now pay using the digital currency. Find out more about how he’s branching into the Bitcoin market in this spotlight article. 
For more Intellectual Property Section news, subscribe to this content here!

Confessions of a Mediator
By Megan Weddle, Stowers & Weddle PC
This post by Megan Weddle talks about the frustrations and triumphs of working as a mediator. She also gives advice on how to make mediation more effective.
For more ADR Section news, subscribe to this content here.

If you’re hanging out with people who aren’t lawyers, here’s something even they will find interesting: Apple’s iOS 8 has sparked a battle between privacy and public interest, whether or not users realize it yet.

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miniBar Talk: This Week’s Top Post!

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Law Professor’s Clinic Targets Revenge Porn and Patent Trolls

Brooklyn Law School professor Jonathan Askin has involved law students in Incubator Project, which gives new tech companies free legal advice. At the most recent legal hack-athon, the students created a website to put an end to revenge porn. The site, “Take My Photo Down”, generates cease-and-desist letters for people to send companies that host explicit photos of them without their permission.

The project has produced a variety of other solutions for more than 700 new companies who can’t afford legal counsel. They focus on helping these startups fight patent trolls, draw up terms of services agreements and deal with getting sued.

To read more about how Askin hopes to bring the “hacker ethos to the legal profession” while giving students hands-on experience in the field, check out this article.

This content was submitted by Christina Clark of Wabash National Corporation. If you would like to submit content or write an article for a section webpage, please email Mary Kay Price at

To subscribe to more Women and the Law, Intellectual Property or Law Student 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: Treat Others as Equals Despite Experience Level

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.

Erin M. Durnell, Broyles Kight & Ricafort PC –

One of the first contested issues I litigated as a new lawyer was against the late Stephenie Jocham. During the course of the matter, she never reminded me that she had been practicing longer than I had, she was not overly aggressive in advocating her client’s position and while in court, she was gracious and respectful to me even as she zealously stood her ground on the issue at hand. Stephenie treated me as an equal even though she had more experience and could have tried to intimidate me. Some other attorneys I opposed during that time strutted around, instructing me about how long they had been practicing, but their bullying caused me to regard them with less, not more, respect. Stephenie, on the other hand, earned my respect as an adversary because she didn’t try to take advantage of the fact that I was the new kid on the block. I’ll never forget it.

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What You Need to Know When Reporting Pro Bono Hours

On Jan. 1, 2015, Rule 6.7 of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct will go into effect. This rule requires attorneys to report pro bono hours at the time of annual registration. James J. Bell, attorney at Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP and secretary of the IndyBar Board of Directors, gives out helpful information that attorneys need to know about reporting pro bono hours.

Bell explains which cases qualify as pro bono and also how many hours must be reported. His article notes that Rule 6.7 will apply to many attorneys but does not apply to retired attorneys, members of the judiciary, judicial staff members or government lawyers prohibted from providing legal services outside of their employment.

Check out Bell’s article here so that, come 2015, you are a pro at reporting pro bono hours.

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Abrams: The IndyBar – More Than Just a Pretty Name

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


Last weekend, your executive officers and executive director attended the Conference of Metropolitan Bar Associations (COMBA) meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. We met with bar associations from 20 cities and towns of comparable size to engage in a rigorous discussion of the challenges for bar associations as well as the programs, projects and services that have worked well in our respective communities. We were fortunate to provide our bar association friends with details on several of the programs, project and services that have worked successfully in Indianapolis, but more importantly, we were enriched with other programs, projects and services that other communities had successfully established. We all agreed that one challenge with our membership and with those attorneys who are not members is trying to effectively communicate all of the different projects, programs and services that our respective bar associations engage in.

Nearly one year ago, at our board retreat, we asked all of the board members to write down as many programs, projects and services that the IndyBar provided. Admittedly, many of us, yours truly included, were only able to name from some to substantially less than all of the amazing good deeds in which we participate. It was amazing to most people to learn that we have more than 100 projects, programs and services offered to our members, lawyers and the community.

I thought it would be beneficial to include a list of just some of these since I know that each of you have some interest in helping somebody. We do it every day with our clients, but we also have the opportunity to help other less privileged people.

20 Sections
4 Divisions
100+ Live CLE Programs Each Year
50+ Social/Networking Events Each Year
Amicus Curiae Committee
Applied Professionalism Course
Ask a Lawyer
Attorneys for an Independent Bench Standing Committee
Bankruptcy Help Line
Bench Bar Conference
Bill Watch Legislative Reports
Destination CLE
Election Inspector Training
Go Green Committee
Government Practice Section Debate Series
Green Legal Initiative
Grievance Committee
HEAL (Helping Enrich Attorneys Lives)
Homeless Project
Hospice Program
Indiana Appellate Institute
Indiana Judicial Biographies Project
Indy Lawyer Finder
IndyBar Bar Leader Series
IndyBar Diversity Job Fair
IndyBar Job Bank
IndyBar Review Course
IndyBar Social Media: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
Judicial and Attorney Criticism Response Committees
Judicial Excellence Standing Committee
Justice Center Task Force
Lawyer Referral Service
Lawyers Helping Lawyers Task Force
Legal Line
Legal Services Task Force
Legislative Committee
Leonard H. Opperman Bankruptcy Roundtable
Low Asset Will Program
Marion County Superior Court Pro Bono Program
Mediation Day
Mentor/Job Shadow Project
Modest Means Referrals: Criminal and Family Law
Navigating the Legal System Video Series
Online CLE Catalog
Online Forms Library
Online Legal Directory
Paralegal Committee
Professionalism Task Force
Project Counsel Posting Board
Public Outreach Committee
Resume Postings
Safe Ask Program
Surviving & Thriving: Essentials for Starting or Improving Your Solo/Small Practice
Women & the Law Division Mentoring Program
Women & the Law Division Symposium
Young Lawyers Division Intro to Indy Series

Please take two minutes to review this list and when you find one or more things that pique your interest, please call the office at 269-2000 and ask who is in charge of the program(s), project(s) or service(s) that is of interest to you. Follow up and get engaged. I am confident that once you talk with a staff member or a fellow member of our bar, you will be emotionally charged to figure out how to participate and enrich the life of somebody, including your own.

If you don’t find something to engage in, then I would ask that you call me at 632-3232 and let me know what else we can do in our community. In advance, thank you for your interest in getting involved. You will not regret the call.

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Government Practice Section Awards Scholarship to Carrie Brennan

The IndyBar’s Government Practice Section awarded its third annual scholarship to Carrie Brennan of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

As attorneys who represent government agencies, or who assist clients in matters involving government agencies, the members of the Government Practice Section award the $1,000 scholarship to a second- or third-year law student with a strong academic record and a demonstrated interest in government practice.

This year, the Section’s Executive Committee reviewed applications from talented students attending each of Indiana’s law schools. The Section commends Ms. Brennan for standing out among a group of intelligent, motivated, and service-minded applicants.

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Changes in Marion County Courts and Other Observations

By The Hon. Tim Oakes, Marion Superior Court

Forty years ago this year, the headlines in the Indianapolis Star read, “Demo ‘New Broom’ Sweeps GOP Off County Benches.” It was the post-Watergate election and voters let their thoughts be known through the ballot, not only here, but statewide and nationwide. Eight incumbent judges were thrown off the bench in the tidal wave, and Democrats won all 13 judgeships on the ballot that year. Names like Endsley, Tranberg, Barteau, Brewer, Jacobs, and yes, Zore and Chavis were swept into office. This would prompt a legislative change in how judges were selected. Many evidently believed the change (perceived by some to be a function of national politics versus judicial bench performance) was too much.

Similar, but not as dramatic, change is coming to the Marion County Superior Courts in January. The deadline for 2014 candidates passed June 30th. Since there are no independent challengers to those Superior Court judicial candidates elected in the Marion County primary, we know who will be leaving and who will be arriving on the bench in Jan. 2015.

Judges Ted Sosin, Patrick McCarty, Lou Rosenberg, David Shaheed and Gerald Zore are retiring. They have been great representatives of the Marion County judiciary for decades. Dave Cook has also done an outstanding job serving in Criminal Court 7 these past months.

P.J. Dietrick, Angela Dow-Davis, Shatrese Flowers, Christina Klineman and Marcel Pratt will take the bench Jan. 1, 2015. As such, new court assignments need to be made, and a timely decision allows for all interested parties to be informed in sufficient time to allow for, ideally, a smooth transition. The Marion County Executive Committee met Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, and pursuant to local rule and a vote, made the following court assignments beginning Jan. 2015:

Civil Court 1 – Heather Welch
Civil Court 2 – Tim Oakes
Civil Court 3 – Gary Miller
Civil Court 4 – Cynthia Ayers
Civil Court 5 – Robert Altice
Civil Court 6 – Tom Carroll
Civil Court 7 – Mike Keele
Civil Court 10 – David Dreyer
Civil Court 11 – John Hanley
Civil Court 12 – John Chavis
Civil Court 13 – James Joven
Civil Court 14 – Jim Osborn
Probate Court – Steve Eichholtz

In the Criminal Division, judges in the major felony courts 1 to 6 will remain the same with the exception of Shatrese Flowers being assigned to Major Felony Drug Court, Court 20.

The new judge assignments in the other criminal courts include:

Criminal Court 7 – Clayton Graham
Criminal Court 15 – Helen Marchal
Criminal Court 16 – Angela Dow-Davis
Criminal Court 17 – Christina Klineman
Criminal Court 21 – P.J. Dietrick
Traffic Court (13) – Marcel Pratt

Change can be frustrating and occasionally produce some anxiety, especially to lawyers and their clients. The Marion County bench has been in a period of transition since 2000 and has weathered the changes well. Of the judges who were on the bench in January 2000, only five will remain as of January 2015. (Can you name them? Hint: They will all be on a Civil Bench in January 2015.) Not since that election of 1974 has there been such a period of change on the Marion County bench. Some judges have moved on to different judicial roles – former Superior Court judges Bradford, Moberly, Stinson, and Pratt for example. Many have retired and some have lost elections during that time. Sadly, some have also passed away.

Though the Indiana Legislature did away with the mandatory retirement age of 75 for Indiana Trial Court judges recently, the list of Marion County judicial officers may look equally different in another 15 years. Whether only five of our current 36 are still around remains to be seen, but it is always possible.

Judicial Surveys
In researching these changes, I also was curious as to how incumbent judges have scored on the IndyBar judicial surveys over the years. The bar conducts surveys of its members on the performance of judicial officers and judicial candidates in the months prior to a judicial election. It is not a perfect system, nor, to my knowledge, does it represent itself to be. For example, candidates who are not incumbent judicial officers tend to score lower initially than they typically do after their first term on the bench. It remains doubtful that candidates suddenly become better at all the factors the survey measures merely because they ascended to the bench. As one Lake County Judicial Nominating Commission member recently said, “No one ever has their personality improved by being selected to serve on the bench. We can only hope it doesn’t become worse.” Thus, only surveys conducted of judicial officers after their first term were considered.

The spread of the IndyBar’s published surveys over the past 15 years has found them amazingly consistent. In short, most sitting judges have been rated well by those participating in the surveys. We now have slightly more sitting judges scoring above 90 percent on the recommended-to-serve portion than at any other time in the last 15 years. The difference is not that large to show a trend, but more of the Marion County judges are scoring above 90 percent recommended now than ever before.

While I have not reviewed judicial surveys in detail from around the country, I do have the opportunity, as part of my research for a law school seminar I co-teach with Professor Joel Schumm on Judicial Selection, to see and read many different articles from other states on judicial surveys by lawyers. I cannot recall seeing other surveys that rank their judges as well as the Marion County judiciary. There are always exceptions, but it is good to know that IndyBar surveys generally show that an increasing number of lawyers hold our Marion County judiciary in an increasingly favorable opinion.

There is always room for improvement. I personally welcome any constructive instruction on how we might better interact and work with lawyers and litigants to serve their needs, and I am confident most of my colleagues would agree.•

Third year Indiana University McKinney School of Law Student Joanne Rouse and second year McKinney Law Student Addison Bradford assisted in the research of this article.

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