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Competing for a cause

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Through the end of March, Indiana law firms will be collecting donations for two charitable causes.

March Against Hunger, a statewide food drive to benefit Indiana’s food banks, offers a prize for top contributors in four categories: Large firm, medium-sized firm, small firm, and public/nonprofit firm. Now in its fourth year, the food drive is an initiative that Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller created.

“When I talk about it, I always mention two things – lawyers do have this mission to serve others, so there’s that part of this,” Zoeller said. “But the other is, you can’t deny that lawyers are very competitive. I’ve got a touch of it myself. I do think the competition – kind of a friendly rivalry – it does play off of that.”

On March 8, lawyers were preparing for another event that pits firm against firm: the Fight for Air Climb, which benefits the American Lung Association.

food-drive-15col.jpg At the Indianapolis office of Kightlinger & Gray, partner Libby Moss, receptionist Jennifer Rhorer and Director of Administration Jennifer Ellis (from left to right) have been working to generate donations for March Against Hunger. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Dan Long, of Frost Brown Todd, said that 2011 was the first year in which law firms competed against each other in the annual stair-climb, which this year was March 10. He explained that other firms were happy to participate in the event.

“At least in the Indianapolis area, we’re all very competitive, and one way to get lawyers involved is to tell them someone else can do it better, or to tell them they can’t do it,” he said.

Participants climb 35 flights of stairs in the Regions Bank Tower in Indianapolis once, twice or three times. Last year, Frost Brown Todd edged out Barnes & Thornburg to win first place among law firms that participated.

While Long appreciates the competition – and the bragging rights that come with winning – what appeals to him more is that law firms are among the top corporate contributors to the fundraiser.

“The thing what I like about this is three of the top five – Frost, Bingham, Barnes – are law firms,” he said.

For those less fortunate

When Greg Zoeller became attorney general in January 2009, he remembered that when he had been a deputy in that office, the Indiana State Bar Association had approached AG Steve Carter about promoting membership in the state bar.

Zoeller expected the ISBA would likely ask the same of him.

“I started to think about what I could go out and ask in return,” he said. He recalled reading about a food drive promoted by the Virginia State Bar Association and decided he wanted to implement a similar program in Indiana.  

fooddrivetrophy.jpg This traveling trophy went to Frost Brown Todd last year for winning the law firm competition in the Fight for Air Climb. (Photo Submitted)

“So, when members of the Indiana State Bar Association came and asked if I would help keep up membership, I said I would love to – and I asked if they would help with my program,” he said.

Since then, the ISBA and attorney general have worked together with Feeding Indiana’s Hungry to spread the word about March Against Hunger. The campaign encourages lawyers to contribute food and monetary donations for the state’s food banks. Unlike the previous three years, this year’s food drive will last the entire month of March, rather than two weeks.

Last year, Zoeller expanded the food drive to include firms in Ohio and Kentucky since food banks located on the other side of Indiana’s state lines serve some Indiana residents. Fifty law firms in Indiana and Kentucky participated, collecting more than 6,000 pounds of food and $27,574, which combined is the equivalent of 143,986 pounds (or 72 tons) of assistance.

South Bend’s Tuesley Hall Konopa won first place in the small firm category last year, raising $1,331 and 29 pounds of food. Partner Tom Hall explained that the competition was a natural fit for the firm because it already holds an annual Thanksgiving event to benefit the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.

When asked if the competitive nature of March Against Hunger helped motivate attorneys, he laughed, then said, “It helps, and we’re a little disappointed that we’ll have to go up against much larger firms this year.” Having added some attorneys since last year, the firm will be bumped up into the medium-sized ffood-drive-factbox.gifirm category.

Barnes & Thornburg was the first-place winner in large firm category last year, donating 1,031 pounds of food and $8,395. Robert Grand, managing partner of the Indianapolis office, explained that charitable giving has always been a priority for the firm.

“We have a lot of folks here that are involved in a lot of different things in the community, and we have had a long history of participating in those things – for instance, when the Bears were playing the Colts in the Super Bowl, we did a (drive) for who could raise the most for the food bank in our city,” Grand said.

Terre Haute firm Fleschner Stark Tanoos & Newlin took first place in 2011 in the medium-sized firm category, raising $3,126 and 310 pounds of food. The Department of Justice/Office of the U.S. Trustee in Indianapolis earned first place honors in the public/nonprofit firm category, donating $1,193 and 67 pounds of food.

Strength in numbers

Frost Brown Todd has four teams – 31 people – competing in the Fight for Air Climb including Park Tudor Kids, whose team captain is Long’s 12-year-old daughter.

Mike Limrick, captain of the Bingham Greenebaum Doll team, said 10 people from his firm will participate.

“I’ve been really surprised at the response and just the number of firms that are involved,” he said.

Taft Stettinius & Hollister is a corporate sponsor, and Long said Krieg DeVault is sponsoring a team.

Barnes & Thornburg is fielding teams for a “staff v. partners” challenge.

“Whatever they’re doing, it’s working for them – they have 20 more climbers than last year, and they’ve more than doubled what they raised last year,” he said. Still, Long wouldn’t mind holding onto the first-place traveling trophy this year.•

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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