IndyBar Foundation

The IBF Donor of the Month: Eric Cavanaugh - The Indianapolis Bar Foundation

IndyBar Foundation News

Posted on: Jul 18, 2014

This month's featured donor is Eric Cavanaugh, who serves as Associate General Counsel at Duke Energy Corporation. Eric served two terms as Indianapolis Bar Foundation President and is a Distinguished Fellow.

We learned more about Eric from the following Q & A:

Why do you support the Foundation?
I believe that lawyers, as members of one of the noble professions, should give back to the profession and the community. The Indianapolis Bar Foundation has evolved into key player in the community as the philanthropic arm of the Indianapolis Bar Association, taking the lead on courthouse security issues, access to justice initiatives, leadership development in the bar and educating the community about the role of attorneys and judges in shaping our community.

What is your favorite law school memory?
None, law school for me was a barrier to be overcome to work in the profession.

What is your least favorite law school memory?
Having to fight with the Dean of my law school to get a certified transcript so that I could sit for the Indiana Bar under the two year rule.

Why did you become a lawyer?
Growing up, the lawyers I saw or met were leaders in their community and were change agents. I wanted to be one of those types of people: people who made a difference.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Since elementary school, all I wanted to be was a lawyer.

What was your favorite high school class?

What is the most interesting trip you’ve ever taken?
I had a commercial litigation case in which one of the key witnesses had left his employer to become the U. S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe. We went to Harare, Zimbabwe to take his deposition. The deposition occurred on Nelson Mandela’s birthday and was interrupted by Zimbabwe students outside the embassy protesting over Mandela’s continued captivity by South Africa.

What is your favorite legal phrase/terminology and why?
I don’t know that I have one.

Do you eat lunch out or at your desk?
At my desk.

What’s the first thing you do when you get home on a Friday?
Usually open a nice bottle of wine for dinner.

Name one mentor and how he/she influenced you.
Wabash Religion and Philosophy Professor Bill Placher. He taught me how to think critically about readings and take complex issues and break them down into parts.

What was your very first case or client all about?
I worked in the Indiana Attorney General’s office. My first case was a bench trial on an escheat case during my first month on the job. I got the file a couple of days before trial and was told to go over to Marion Superior Court and try it. I lost at trial but won on appeal.

What is your most memorable case or client?
I had a case involving a large group of attorneys from all over the country in one of our suburban Indiana courts. The case took several years to get to trial. The judges handling it were masterful in how they treated everyone connected with the case. It was a hard fought case, but the attorneys and the judges were civil toward each other. At the end it was down to just two parties in the case. The night the case went to the jury, the judge made the trial teams for both sides join him for dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate the end of that part of the journey for that case.

Who is your favorite TV lawyer and why?
Jack McCoy, Law & Order. He’s driven to pursue justice.

What would you be doing if it was 3 p.m. on a workday?
Probably in a conference call on one of my cases.

What myth about lawyers would you like to dispel?
“All lawyers care about is the money.” I know many lawyers who readily donate of their time, talent and treasure to make a difference in numerous organizations in our community. When I have been asked to lead an organization, my first source of recruits to help the organization are lawyers.

For what time is your alarm set?
5:30 a.m.

Decaf or caffeinated?
Highly Caffeinated

iPhone or Android?

Apple pie or chocolate cake?
Apple pie.

What book are you reading now?
"The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism" by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Who was your most influential teacher or professor and how?
Wabash Religion and Philosophy Professor Bill Placher. He taught me how to think critically about readings and take complex issues and break them down into parts.

What was the name of your first pet?

What would you tell a 5-year-old if he or she asked ‘what is a lawyer/judge?’
A lawyer is someone who helps people with their problems.

What is your favorite movie?
The Verdict.

What is the most challenging part of being a lawyer?
The time demands and focus required to be successful.

What do you like best about living in central Indiana?
Indianapolis still has many of the positive elements of both a big city and a small town. Lots of variety and diversity as far as things to do, but people still say hello as they pass on the street. We have some strong communities, where neighbors know each other and help each other, which is sometimes forgotten if we only focus on the headlines.

Name one thing on your desk that you can’t live without.
My computer, followed closely by my coffee cup.


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