By Scott A. Oliver, Lewis & Kappes PC
As members of the Indiana Bar, we have a multitude of opportunities to serve others through our work. However, our ability to impact the community extends past the walls of our offices. I recall sitting in my seat during the “call to the profession” in law school and learning that the Indianapolis legal community was more than a bunch of lawyers billing hours, writing briefs, or looking to land the next big client. I was sitting in a room with lawyers, professors, and peers who recognized the power of a law degree and how becoming an attorney meant more than sitting behind a desk and doing exceptional work. Throughout my time in law school and during my first (almost) year of practice, one theme has remained true: to be an Indiana lawyer means more than having a license to practice law.
Sure, there are aspects about law school that nobody wants to remember: a particularly unwelcomed cold call . . . the first final exam . . . or a grade being not as high as anticipated. Despite the stressors, I enjoyed law school. A large reason for my enjoyment was the events that occurred outside of the classroom. In a matter of weeks after the “call to the profession,” students began receiving e-mails from the Office of Professional Development with opportunities to get involved. Perhaps some of the most valuable opportunities were those where the law school partnered with professional associations to allow students to interact with attorneys and become engaged with the Indianapolis community. The law school was preparing students to become the Indiana lawyers who spoke at the call to the profession — lawyers who went beyond the practice of law to positively impact their communities.
My first glimpse of community service as an attorney occurred a few weeks into practice through participation with the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Professionalism Committee. I attended my first meeting and listened to the discussions about how the committee would structure the year around the tenets of: (1) Commitment; (2) Character; (3) Competence (4) Courtesy; and (5) Community Involvement. As each member discussed their goals for the committee, I realized that I was collaborating with attorneys who exemplified what I heard during the “call to the profession” four years prior. The committee members were taking time out of their schedules to think beyond their law license and to use their positions to engage with the community. There were no clients in the room, no hours being billed, and no discussions about fees — only a group of lawyers brainstorming about how to improve their community.
The Indianapolis Bar Association works to uphold the values I learned during the “call to the profession” and provides lawyers and law students with opportunities to get involved with the community. On September 29, 2017, the Indianapolis Bar Association, through the Professionalism Committee, is hosting the inaugural IndyBar Service Day in conjunction with Indy Do Day. The event focuses on assisting causes throughout Indianapolis and allows law students and lawyers to give back by providing services to benefit one of three organizations: The Boy Scouts of America, White River State Park, or Gleaners Food Bank. To register, visit indybar.org/serviceday.
A law license allows us to do more than make a living doing what we enjoy — it brings us together as leaders of our communities and puts us in a unique position to give back. As I reflect on the call to the profession, I recognize its impact when I see my friends, co-workers, and mentors serving as Indiana lawyers throughout the community.