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IndyBar Blog All Posts     

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miniBar Talk: This Week's Top Post
Posted on: Sep 22, 2017

My Story of Hope: Michelle Jones

By Jennifer P. Harrison, Lewis and Wilkins LLP

When I was a public defender and had a client that was successful in some kind of programming, whether it be substance abuse, mental health, a combination, or something else entirely, that one success story could keep me going for months. On hard days, I would think about that one person I was able to help. The truth is it's hard working in criminal justice and to feel like our system is making a difference some days. At times, we feel let down by ourselves, opposing counsel, the courts, and correctional facilities.  But that one story….that one story can fuel us during those hard times.

Over the weekend I found the story of Michelle Jones, a woman released from Indiana Women’s Prison (IWP) in August 2017 after serving 20 years for the murder of her 4 year-old-son. Yes, it was a gruesome crime. Yes, she was responsible for a child’s – her own child’s – death. But in the 20 years she served at IWP, Ms. Jones started a new story for her life. She repented for her wrongs and she did what so many times I promised judges my clients would do in the Department of Correction: she rehabilitated herself.

During her two decades in prison, Michelle Jones became a published scholar of American history, she led a group of inmates in producing the Indiana Historical Society’s best research project of 2016 and she wrote dance compositions and historical plays. The Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis is workshopping her play The Duchess of Stringtown and plans to produce it in December at Indy Convergence. She is currently a doctoral candidate at NYU. Ms. Jones stated, “I knew that I had come from this very dark place — I was abhorrent to society,” she continued. “But for 20 years, I’ve tried to do right, because I was still interested in the world, and because I didn’t believe my past made me somehow cosmically un-educatable forever.”

I encourage you to read the full New York Times story here. It is an incredible story of how our system can work.  It is an incredibly story of how people’s crimes don’t make them who they are and a different path is possible if they can believe in themselves.  It is the type of story that can keep you going when this work seems hopeless.

To subscribe to more Criminal Justice news like the article above, click here to update your news subscriptions.

Give Back at the IndyBar Service Day
Posted on: Sep 21, 2017

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.

Kids’ Voice of Indiana Awarded 2017 IBF Impact Fund Grant
Posted on: Sep 21, 2017

For families living in poverty in Indianapolis, an unanticipated legal issue can quickly escalate into a major crisis. Lack of transportation and knowledge of how to deal with the problem plus day-to-day stressors like dealing with childcare, medical needs and putting meals on the table can easily leave these families feeling like there’s nowhere to turn for help.

With help from the Indianapolis Bar Foundation (IBF), local non-profit Kids’ Voice of Indiana will bring free legal assistance into the community to directly assist these families through a new Community Mobile Law Program, funded through the IBF’s 2017 Impact Fund Grant.

The pilot program will provide one-on-one legal help for Indianapolis residents with regular clinic hours at four community centers: Children’s Bureau, Flanner House, the Shepherd Community Center and the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center. Each of these centers serves clients suffering from poverty, high crime, lack of transportation and language barriers.

At these clinics, Kids’ Voice staff and IBF/Indianapolis Bar Association volunteers will help clients fill out forms ready to file so their legal issue is on its way to resolution and will provide guidance with legal advice and direction on additional options for assistance through pro bono services or attorneys prepared to help with specific legal problems. In addition, the program will provide training sessions for the community center staff on family law topics and child abuse and neglect. Several free presentations will also be available for the public accessing the community center, including programs for juveniles on delinquency and social media safety.

The impact of the program is expected to be immense. It will provide new resources for the community centers served, not only for their existing clients but for new neighbors who will be drawn into the facilities through the added services of the Community Mobile Law Program. The program will empower clients to become self-sufficient in handling their own legal issues and overcoming obstacles, helping them find new employment and establish a stable family life. Crime prevention is also an anticipated benefit, as services will provide neighbors with solutions that help them avoid resorting to crime to pay for needed legal services. The program will also uniquely serve the immigrant community without fear of reprisal.

The project is scheduled to launch in 2018, with volunteer opportunities and training sessions for the program offered to bar members throughout the year. Watch for details at indybar.org.

About the Indianapolis Bar Foundation & the Impact Fund

The Impact Fund began in 2011 as a vehicle to maximize the financial generosity of Indianapolis Bar Foundation donors and to provide members of the Indianapolis Bar Association with compelling opportunities to donate their time through pro bono service. Since its inception, $175,000 has been awarded through the fund to organizations like Indy Reads, Peace Learning Center, the Joseph Maley Foundation, the Military Assistance Project of Indiana Legal Services Inc., Reach for Youth, and the Health and Human Rights Clinic at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in an effort to provide a significant positive impact in central Indiana through the promotion of access to justice for indigent persons.

The Impact Fund is an important tool in the foundation’s efforts to fulfill its mission: to advance justice and lead positive change in Indianapolis through philanthropy, education and service. In addition to the Impact Fund, the Indianapolis Bar Foundation grants $105,000 each year to a variety of community service programs co-sponsored with the Indianapolis Bar Association.

About Kids’ Voice of Indiana

Since 1982, Kids’ Voice has been a champion for abused, neglected, and endangered children in Marion County. Its signature programs are based on three pillars: Education (The Derelle Watson-Duvall Children’s Law Center, established in 1983), Advocacy (The Bette J. Dick Guardian ad Litem Program for Kids, established in 1993) and Protection (The Jenny Miller Supervised Parent-Child Visitation Program, established in 1997). Kids’ Voice is a prevention organization using secondary prevention services to deter abused, neglected, and endangered children from experiencing or re-experiencing abuse and/or neglect. Without prevention services, abused, neglected, and/or endangered children can become wards of the state, otherwise referred to as a Child in Need of Services (CHINS).

Nissa's News: Let's Serve, Celebrate and Plan!
Posted on: Sep 21, 2017

Let’s Serve:

There is still time to sign up to join the IndyBar’s Professionalism Committee with our inaugural IndyBar Service Day in conjunction with Indy Do Day. The event will run from 8 a.m. until noon on Friday, September 29. This is a great way to get out of your office and give back to our community.

We have three different volunteer opportunities throughout Indianapolis, so you can pick which one you like best: you can help clean up White River State Park, sort and process food donations at Gleaner’s Food Bank, or help prepare the Boy Scout camp at Camp Belzer. Please register online at indybar.org/serviceday. All volunteers will receive an IndyBar t-shirt as an expression of our thanks!

Let’s Celebrate:

It’s that time of year when we gather with our friends and colleagues to celebrate the accomplishments of our members. We have two special events in the next few months that I encourage you to attend. The first event is our Practice Milestone Celebration where we will celebrate all members who have been practicing for more than 25 years and where we will specifically honor both 25 and 50-year practitioners. At this point in my career, I truly cannot fathom having practiced for 50 years. What an absolutely amazing accomplishment! This celebration will take place on Thursday, October 26 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Woodstock County Club. If you have been practicing 25 years or more, please join us in toasting your fellow practitioners and sharing stories from throughout the years.

Our second celebration is our annual Recognition Breakfast. Each year, we gather to honor and celebrate local leaders who make outstanding contributions to the legal profession. Breakfast this year will be at Meridian Hills Country Club at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, November 21. This will be a great way to kick off your Thanksgiving celebration as we give thanks for those people who go out of their way to promote justice in our community and serve our profession.

You can register for both events online at indybar.org/events.

Let’s Plan:

The IndyBar is working with DORIS Research and Blackline Studio to determine the IndyBar’s future office space needs and we need your help in our planning efforts!

Over the next several weeks our members will have different opportunities to provide feedback and ideas to help us formulate our plans for our future workspace. Our DORIS researchers will be gathering data through a variety of interviews, focus groups, observations and surveys. Please look for these opportunities from DORIS to participate and share your thoughts, opinions and ideas with us. We welcome all member feedback as we try to make the best decisions for our future workspace.

On Tap at the IndyBar: September 18 - September 22
Posted on: Sep 18, 2017

Everybody loves a local bar, so check out what yours is serving up this week with upcoming IndyBar events and happenings below!

On the Docket

Paralegal Appreciation Lunch
Mon., September 18 from noon to 1 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

Alternative Dispute Resolution and Medation: What Do Judges Expect?
Tues., September 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

FREE Northside Member Appreciation Headshots
Weds., September 20 from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m.
Details here.

E-Filing Update: Trial Rules & Case Management Software Changes
Weds., September 20 from noon to 1 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

IndyBar Health Fair
Weds., September 20 from noon to 5 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

FREE Northside Member Appreciation Intro Videos
Thurs., September 21 from 8 a.m. to noon and 3 to 5 p.m.
Details here.

Understanding Surrogacy: Designating a Successor in Case the Unexpected Happens
Thurs., September 21 from noon to 1 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

Working with the Indiana Department of Revenue: An Insider's Perspective
Thurs., September 21 from noon to 1 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

Breakfast with the Bar: Careers in Criminal Law
Fri., September 22 from 8 to 9 a.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

FREE Member Appreciation CLE: The Role of the Second Chair
Fri., September 22 from noon to 1 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

Check out the full slate of IndyBar events here, and don’t forget to check out the IndyBar on Facebook for the latest event photos.

News You Can Use

  • Member Appreciation Month: This Week's Offerings - We're thinking about YOUR health this week! Another CLE and a Health Fair featuring nutrition services, chronic disease screening, "in case of emergency" cards and more—all for FREE! Check out everything you can take advantage of this month at indybar.org/loveourmembers.
  • Share Your Feedback on the IndyBar's Future Space! - We need your ideas, thoughts and feedback as we begin to determine the IndyBar's future office space. Read here to find out how you can be involved in the process.
  • U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard A. Posner Announces Retirement - The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has announced that Judge Richard A. Posner has retired from the bench, effective September 2, 2017. Read more here.
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