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Posted on: Jan 4, 2019

By Julian Harrell, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, 2019 Marion County Bar Association President

Life has a funny way of unfolding. Despite meticulous planning and strict adherence to other “type A” proclivities, change is the only constant. But what we choose to do with this reality creates an ever-present opportunity to dispense with insecure, reactionary feelings and respond more benevolently. This, of course, requires us to believe that we can choose; that we are not slaves to circumstance. In other words, our thoughts are the catalysts of change, for better or worse. Our thoughts create and define our circumstances. I personally believe this also requires shifting our focus away from what is often an illusion of scarcity — that success is finite and correlative. This zero-sum approach creates winners and losers, but only as a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe we are capable of something more.

Putting aside my inner James Allen, this time of year is ripe for thinking about our successes and challenges —and our hope for things to come. It is also a time to express gratitude and appreciation for friends and supporters who selflessly open doors for others. That said, as the Marion County Bar Association’s (MCBA) incoming president, I say “thank you” to outgoing IndyBar president James Bell and Executive Director Julie Armstrong for reaching out to MCBA’s current president, Carlton Martin, and shining a light on the MCBA at such a pivotal moment in our history. I also thank everyone who has served MCBA in any capacity, to make the organization what it is today. MCBA has a rich tradition of promoting fairness, justice and equality, which has made our practice and our community a better place but has also required great vision and sacrifice.

As for the purpose of this column, it is three-fold: (1) to remind everyone that MCBA is as vibrant and relevant as ever; (2) to reflect on the collaborative approach that helped augment MCBA’s successful 2018; and (3) to look forward to growth through a wealth of collaborative opportunity and continued success in 2019 and beyond.

I am happy to report that it was no mistake that 2018 featured consistent collaboration between MCBA and IndyBar. Rather, it resulted from relational- and mission-driven purpose that paved the way for meaningful programming and tangible impact. For example, the Pathway to Judgeship Panel in February helped acclimate MCBA and IndyBar members to the new Marion County judicial selection process. More importantly, MCBA and IndyBar members garnered key insights from the Marion County Judicial Selection Commission regarding how to be the most competitive candidate for the bench. Similarly, MCBA, the IndyBar and the Asian Pacific American Bar Association co-hosted a reception to meet and celebrate with the three judges selected from this new process. Most recently, in December, MCBA, the IndyBar and the Indiana State Bar Association co-sponsored a diversity reception in honor of Justice Frank Sullivan for his contributions to the American Bar Association’s Judicial Clerkship Pipeline Program. Each event highlighted important issues that will remain relevant for years to come.

In addition to these collaborative events, MCBA led efforts to address food insecurity, spread awareness about the dire need for new bias crime legislation and — with the assistance from the IndyBar and a host of other strong community stakeholders — attracted the national Bail Project to select Indianapolis as its next site for bail reform. MCBA also continued investing in the future of the profession by creating open and continuous communication between its members and law students from Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney and Mauer law schools.

Looking to 2019, we expect to continue the work from 2018 while introducing new programming aimed at energizing our current supporters, attracting new ones and further increasing collaboration with community stakeholders. At a fundamental level, MCBA will continue to serve as a hub to energize, inspire and uplift its supporters. This aspect goes to MCBA’s very core and existence, which was to create a forum for the marginalized African-American population of attorneys in Marion County. 2019 will continue in this tradition while also featuring inclusive programming for our supporters irrespective of race, ethnicity, creed, or sexual orientation. Further, our events will add value to practitioners and business people alike, regardless of whether you work in a government, private practice or nonprofit setting. We encourage all to join the MCBA as we strive to make Marion County — our little part of the world — a more inclusive and diverse place to work and live. This is the “something more” we are capable of.

Wishing you all a safe and joyful ear-end and looking forward to a purpose-filled 2019.


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