December 21, 2011
Lawyers Helping Others Pro Bono
For more information, contact:
135 N. Pennsylvania, Suite 1500
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Lawyers Helping Others: Indianapolis Bar Association Pro Bono Volunteers
Serve Hoosiers, Impact National Law
December 21, 2011 (Indianapolis, Indiana)—In the fall of 2007, a homeless man suffering
from a mental health disability walked into the lobby of local law firm Baker & Daniels and asked
to meet with someone who might assist him with his guardianship case.
The man's dispute centered on his rights under a guardianship in which his guardian caused his
home and personal belongings to be demolished against his wishes, without his consent, and
without notice. Connected with Kathy Osborn and Sarah Jenkins, two Baker & Daniels
attorneys who lead the firm’s pro bono working group for persons with disabilities, the man’s
case was litigated in state court and then taken to the Indiana Court of Appeals.
After nearly four years of complex legal actions and processes, this particular situation was
rectified and this man found closure, now receiving monetary compensation for the items
unjustly taken away from him.
The Court of Appeals held that the client's guardian breached fiduciary duties and violated the
client's due process rights, returning the case to the trial court to determine the amount of
damages due to the client. This opinion makes new law helping to govern the manner in which
guardians perform their duties in Indiana and also breaks new ground on a national level with
respect to the interpretation of due process rights afforded to persons under a guardianship.
Thus, Jenkins and Osborn’s pro bono work, in excess of 650 hours with an additional 300 hours
provided from other firm professionals, will benefit not only this client, but literally thousands of
incapacitated adults. In recognition of this outstanding dedication to delivering legal services to
the less fortunate, Osborn and Jenkins were among the five Indianapolis Bar Association
members recognized with a 2011 Pro Bono Award.
While most pro bono efforts do not have the widespread impact of this particular case, the work
contributed by attorneys is an important factor in ensuring the equal access to justice for all
individuals. This work exists in stark contrast to public perceptions of lawyers and the judicial
system, which has continually suffered due to high profile cases, entertainment programs and
pubic controversy. A study by the American Bar Association noted that 69% of those surveyed
felt that attorneys were more interested in making money than serving their clients while just
39% felt that lawyers attempt to serve public interests well.
In 2011, Indianapolis Bar Association pro bono volunteers donated 1,555 hours serving 1,702
persons, with an estimated value of $311,000, representing a 28 percent increase in hours
donated in comparison to 2010. These volunteers, through a variety of legal help programs and
services, make a tangible impact on the lives of thousands of Hoosiers without expectations of
For full details of the impact of Indianapolis Bar Association pro bono efforts, please see the 2011 Pro Bono Annual Report.
About the Indianapolis Bar Association
The Indianapolis Bar Association is a voluntary membership organization comprised of more
than 5,000 attorneys, judges, paralegals and law students. Founded in 1878 and recognized as
a leader among metropolitan bar associations throughout the United States, the Indianapolis
Bar Association strives to fulfill its mission to serve its members, promote justice and enhance
the legal profession through member development, community outreach, pro bono service and
various programs and resources.