By Mag. Kimberly Dean Mattingly, Marion Superior Court
The IndyBar Family Law Section selected Denise Hayden of the Law Office of Jessica S. Lacy to receive the annual Family Law Section Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize those individuals and/or organizations who have made contributions to the legal profession and the community. Specifically, these recipients have demonstrated a commitment to furthering knowledge of issues affecting families as they relate to laws and policies within the Bar and among colleagues as well as have shown a commitment to furthering the interests of families and the Indianapolis community at large.
Well-known to most members of our section, Denise has long practiced as a solo practitioner with offices on the east side of Indianapolis. She was admitted to the bar in 1990 after attending Indiana University for both her undergraduate and law degrees. Below is a summary of her nomination for this year’s award.
Denise spent a great deal of the end of 2015 and 2016 assisting two very busy family law lawyers who fell on hard times. Denise was appointed surrogate attorney for one lawyer who eventually passed away, and was instrumental in helping the other try to avoid losing a very viable practice. And, she did these things while she was attempting to retire! She has had to continue to work full time, not with her own practice, but with everything incident to helping two of our brethren. I've never heard Denise complain about any of these extra responsibilities; in fact, I'll bet she will try to decline this award and claim that she was just doing what any of us would do to help a fellow lawyer/friend.
Denise accepts pro bono Guardian Ad Litem appointments whenever a judicial officer calls. She has also provided countless pro bono and modest means mediations for Marion County divorce and paternity litigants. She keeps her per-hour rate low ($150!) for private-pay mediation clients and has an incredibly high success rate in settling cases and keeping them off of overloaded dockets.
Finally, Denise is a bastion of civility and ethics. She is a model to me and to all lawyers for how to conduct oneself inside and outside of court. As her friend, I hope she really is able to retire soon and enjoy life. As a judicial officer, I pray that she will not go anywhere! The only thing I wish she would do more of is attend the women’s Wednesday Night Dinner Group so that the next generation of lawyers can benefit from her years of experience and learn how the practice of law should be done. Congratulations and many thanks to Denise!
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