Meet the IndyBar President: James J. Bell - IndyBar Blog

IndyBar Blog

Posted on: Jan 12, 2018

Who’s the new IndyBar president? We sat down with James Bell of Paganelli Law Group to give you an exclusive peek inside the mind of the IndyBar’s newest front man! Check it out below and keep up with him on Twitter at @indybarpres. We promise you’ll be entertained!

How did you initially get involved with the IndyBar?

When I was a younger (pronounced, “less bald”) attorney, I was fortunate enough to work for former IndyBar President Kevin McGoff. I was in my third or fourth year as a lawyer and he all but told me I was doing the IndyBar Bar Leader Series. During that program, I got to know Julie Armstrong, Executive Director, and others at the IndyBar. I got involved in the Criminal Justice Section, eventually served as chair and at some point, I started teaching Criminal Procedure for the IndyBar Review Course.

My big break came when Julie asked me to emcee door prizes at the Bench Bar Conference. I encouraged the members in attendance to give a Ric Flair, “Woooooooo!” whenever the number on their ticket matched the one in my hand. Most in attendance played along. I won’t say I owe everything to the Nature Boy, but certainly we all owe him something.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Is there a historical figure that was raised by immigrants, became an attorney and then had significant experiences in Alabama? The only person coming to mind is Vincent LaGuardia Gambini. (And don’t tell me “My Cousin Vinny” isn’t “historical.” Lots of “crazy” happens in Alabama.)

What is your biggest goal for 2018 as president of the IndyBar?

We have many goals this year, but our biggest goal is to find the IndyBar and Indianapolis Bar Foundation a new home. The IndyBar Board is focused on finding a welcoming space that can become a hub for central Indiana lawyers to meet with their clients, hang out with colleagues, take a deposition and make a quick copy before court. We are looking forward to working with the Indianapolis Bar Foundation Board to make this a reality.

In the meanwhile, we’ll be working to provide value to the Indianapolis lawyers and paralegals who work in diverse practice environments. We’ll be working with solo/small firm folks, large/medium lawyers and those in government practice on law practice management, business development, remaining connected to the community . . . all while having fun.

What is the one thing you wish every lawyer knew about the IndyBar?

If you take a little time to give us a look, the IndyBar can serve as a platform for your practice and can make the experience of being an attorney more meaningful, fun, profitable and efficient. (Is that one thing or five?)

Tell us your favorite thing to do when you’re NOT at the office.

It would be cliché to say that in my spare time I like to hang out with my family, so I won’t say that because I don’t like using clichés because clichés open up a can of worms and they’re just garbage in and garbage out and, in a nutshell, I don’t like clichés. (But I do like to spend time with family.)

Who are your heroes in real life?

Most of my heroes are Irish, Southern or Midwestern. Here is my hero list in no particular order: my parents (Irish/Southern), Bono (Irish), Nick Saban (Southern), Elvis Aron Presley (Southern), Tony Dungy (Midwestern), Michelle Obama (Midwestern), and John Lennon (Southern Liverpool). Most of these folks use/used their talents and/or platforms to serve others, one of these guys is a really awesome college football coach and the other looks sweaty, but splendid in a jumpsuit.

Tell us your favorites: Movie, food item, writers and sports team.

Favorite Movies: I enjoy the classics. You know, Casablanca, The Godfather, The Empire Strikes Back, Billy Madison and Weird Science. (RIP Chet.) Favorite Food: All three kinds of pizza—cheese, pepperoni, and veggie. If coffee is a food, then that, too. Favorite Writers: In no particular order, W.B. Yeats (Irish), John Keats, Harper Lee (Alabamian), Tom Chiarella (Hoosier via Alabama), John Green (Hoosier via Alabama), Roy Hobson (Hoosier) and Jeff Kinney. Favorite Sports Team: First Baptist Athletics Dash soccer team. (Some of my favorite people are on that team, they have a great coach, no one is juiced and there is a low chance that any of the players will suffer from CTE.)

Hang out with James and the rest of the IndyBar & IBF Boards of Directors on January 23 at the Installation Luncheon. Register at


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