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A Look Back at 50 Years as a Lawyer - IndyBar Blog

IndyBar Blog


Posted on: Oct 18, 2017

Fifty years ago, the average house was $14,250, the average salary was $7,300, the average price of a new car was $2,750 and a gallon of gas could be purchased for 33 cents.

In 1967, “Cool Hand Luke,” “Respect” by Aretha Franklin and “The Andy Griffith Show” were hits in movie theatres and on our radios and televisions. The first human-to-human heart transplant was successful. Pringles made their debut to supermarket shelves, and President Lyndon B. Johnson confirmed Thurgood Marshall as the first African-American Supreme Court justice.

And for 10 IndyBar members, 1967 was also the year when they began practicing law.

To get a better idea of what it means to spend 50 years devoted to the profession, some of these members shared an inside glimpse at some of their best memories in the field. Read on to see what has changed and which experiences left lasting impressions.

Preston Breunig

“Simply do the right thing.”

What was it like practicing law when you started versus now?

The biggest difference is camaraderie. When I first began practicing, all lawyers knew each other, socialized with each other, took golf trips together, had big bar association dinner/dances, and got together many nights after work. It was nothing to have a 24-person golf trip in six cars with judges, prosecutors and lawyers all participating in the golf trip.

What is your favorite memory from the last 50 years?

My favorite memory practicing law is a case I handled early on entitled Harrison v. Chrysler. It involved a high school friend that was fired by Chrysler and had the union represent him with regard to his grievance. The grievance procedure dragged out over a period of two years and finally one day he was notified that the union had dropped his grievance without explanation.

I filed suit against Chrysler on behalf of Harrison, alleging the union had breached its duty of fair representation. The federal judge at the time, Judge Steckler, in whose house I had been many times playing with his sons, granted summary judgment, saying the union was Harrison’s sole bargaining agent pursuant to the contract. I appealed it to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Seventh Circuit held in reversing Judge Steckler that if the union breaches its duty of fair representation, the individual can sue the employer, notwithstanding the union contract.

The next thing I knew I started getting questions from labor lawyers all over the country asking me about this case. In essence, it just changed the law nationally. I still receive calls regarding this case from people in California and around the country asking me about it. I was not a labor lawyer. This is the only labor law case I ever handled, but my high school friend was very happy with the result.

What are your words to live by?

I believe you get along best in the practice of law if you simply do the right thing. We all know what’s right and wrong and if you follow that motto it’s very difficult to have a problem. If you have any doubt about doing something, just don’t do it.

Donald Foley

“A lawyer’s word is the basis of his reputation.”

What was it like practicing law when you started versus now?

No photo copies, just carbon copies. Legal services were not performed in “real time.” The Indianapolis Bar Association had a pamphlet with suggested fees — very helpful to young lawyers. There were pleas in abatement and demurrers. Litigation was not bogged down with over-reaching discovery. A case could be taken to the Municipal Courts for bench or jury trial for little expense. All research was from hard-cover law books.

What is your favorite memory from the last 50 years?

Last week, (the first week of September), I argued a case to the Indiana Supreme Court for the first time.

What are your words to live by?

A lawyer’s word is the basis of his reputation.

Mr. David Tittle

“Don’t worry about the ball you missed, the next one is coming.” –Arthur Ashe

What was it like practicing law when you started versus now?

The impact of technology and the noticeable decrease of civility.

What is your favorite memory from the last 50 years?

My favorite memories include helping a young widow and her young child try to recover emotionally and financially after a vehicular accident involving reckless driving of a large truck which collided with the family’s car.

Also, having the opportunity, together with the legal departments of Mayflower Vans, the City of Indianapolis, and the lawyers at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, counsel for the Colts, to represent various parties in litigation over the move of the then-Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis. We here were honored to represent Mayor Hudnut and the city. The collaboration with good lawyers on our side of the case was special.

What are your words to live by?

“Don’t worry about the ball you missed, the next one is coming.” –Arthur Ashe

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