ILNews

Longtime labor law attorney elected managing shareholder for national firm

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share


Kim Ebert isn't afraid of hard work. While he's been practicing labor and employment law for more than three decades, the Indianapolis attorney has a work ethic formed long before his legal career began.

Before joining the white-collar legal world, Ebert made a blue-collar living to help pay his way through college and law school - several summers of construction jobs, one full summer of unhooking railcars in the middle of the night as a road brakeman, and 15 months as a laborer and machine operator at an Indianapolis engine plant.

Those years helped pave the way to what he'd eventually meld into a successful legal career that's included helping start an Indianapolis office for a national firm. Now he's taking the reins as managing shareholder for the nation's third-largest labor and employment law firm, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart.

At the annual shareholders meeting in January, Ebert was named managing shareholder, responsible for the strategic growth of the overall firm. The promotion is historic for Ogletree, as Ebert is only the fourth managing shareholder for the firm founded in 1977 and the first who hasn't been a national founding member. He succeeds Gray Geddie in Atlanta, who'd served in that role since January 2001 and whose leadership tripled the number of offices, increased the number of attorneys by more than 300, and quadrupled annual revenues.

"There's a lot of history here, and I sincerely appreciate the hard work and tremendous efforts that have been made leading up to this point," Ebert said. "Like I said, I understand hard work and plan to keep it up. I look forward to the challenge ahead."

Growing up


In May 2000, Ebert was one of nine Hoosier attorneys who left what was then Locke Reynolds to open in Indianapolis Ogletree Deakins' 12th office. They made a strategic decision to leave and create an office with a specific focus on what they'd done at their previous firm.

Marking its 10-year anniversary this spring, the Indianapolis office now boasts 30 lawyers. The firm has 470 lawyers nationally in 37 offices; it expects to open more offices by the end of this year, Ebert said. Revenue grew by more than 5 percent last year and has passed the $200 million mark, he said.

Because of the legal market in Indiana, Ebert said that last year the firm's Indiana office had more than 300 cases and that has been doubling about every year. The focus used to be primarily on manufacturing clients, but that's shifted throughout the decade into other areas such as health care, retail, transportation, logistics, and universities. About 40 percent of the workload is employment and related litigation, 30 percent is traditional work like labor unions, and the rest is made up of growing areas such as immigration, employee benefits, and workplace safety, he said.

"We came here on the feeling that we needed a broader national platform for our practice," Ebert said. "The past decade validates our decision back then."

Chuck Baldwin, now managing shareholder for the Indianapolis office, said his colleague and mentor's leadership in the past 10 years has been a key reason for the Indianapolis office's success. The two have worked together for 22 years, he said.

"Kim works as hard now as the day I met him; it's in his DNA," Baldwin said. "He's a tremendous mentor and role model, and he sets high standards for himself and those around him, and achieves them. It's a real treat for the Indianapolis office to have the firm's managing shareholder based here and that it's Kim."

Stepping up


Ebert said his multiple leadership positions in the past decade helped prepare him for this new position. Aside from helping found and being managing shareholder for Indianapolis, he earned a spot in 2001 on the firm's five-person compensation committee that increased his management duties. Now, he oversees that committee, and the chief operating officer reports directly to him on administrative aspects. He also chairs the fourperson executive management board.

In his new role, Ebert said he's continuing what the firm has been doing for the past decade: capitalizing on the trend of large national companies consolidating labor and employment work in firms that have deep expertise and geographic reach outside of one particular location.

Because the broad goal is to make sure the firm and its attorneys are meeting clients' needs, Ebert said equally important is making sure each attorney has the ability to keep up the basics, such as returning telephone calls or e-mails the same day, or being available to help with emergencies at any hour.

"We strive to know our clients' business and to be a partner in achieving their goals," he said. "To fulfill this objective, I need to be clear in setting expectations for Ogletree lawyers and then give them the tools and systems they need to succeed as professionals here."

Aside from also meeting with Ogletree lawyers internally about alternative fee arrangements or other topical issues, Ebert said he's heavily involved in the exploration of lateral lawyers who might be interested in joining the firm.

"This is a constant process, and we almost always have some discussion going on with groups or single laterals in the field," he said, noting that at least six laterals are being voted on in the coming weeks. "The general practice firms have tended to price those labor employment lawyers out of the market, or they're viewed as being service lawyers within a firm, so we're having many lawyers come to us and finding that this firm's specific focus is very rewarding."

Keeping up

Ebert is maintaining his home base in Indianapolis; he will split his time there and traveling among various offices and client locations in order to handle management tasks and his own client duties. During his career at Ogletree, he's defended employers in virtually every area of labor and employment law, as well as representing employers in investigative and administrative proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. Department of Labor, and other federal and state agencies. Although any given week could mean traveling, Ebert said the new job is teaching him he must be even more disciplined about the cases and matters he's personally handling.

He also plans to continue the philanthropic efforts he's personally been involved with and those he's spearheaded through the firm. Most recently, he directed the firm's Haitian relief effort and raised more than $50,000 in contributions. He also has run in more than 20 half-marathons throughout the country, and he ran the half-marathon with a group in the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego to raise more than $30,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

While there's a lot on his plate, Ebert remains confident that he'll be able to handle the tasks and continue the successful path that Ogletree has been on for many years.

It all goes back to his pre-law career days, he said.

"I've been a member of two unions for railroads and an engine plant, worked in unionized crowds, and so that gave me an understanding about the perspective of the working person," he said. "I've been there, and I understand hard work."

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Call it unauthorized law if you must, a regulatory wrong, but it was fraud and theft well beyond that, a seeming crime! "In three specific cases, the hearing officer found that Westerfield did little to no work for her clients but only issued a partial refund or no refund at all." That is theft by deception, folks. "In its decision to suspend Westerfield, the Supreme Court noted that she already had a long disciplinary history dating back to 1996 and had previously been suspended in 2004 and indefinitely suspended in 2005. She was reinstated in 2009 after finally giving the commission a response to the grievance for which she was suspended in 2004." WOW -- was the Indiana Supreme Court complicit in her fraud? Talk about being on notice of a real bad actor .... "Further, the justices noted that during her testimony, Westerfield was “disingenuous and evasive” about her relationship with Tope and attempted to distance herself from him. They also wrote that other aggravating factors existed in Westerfield’s case, such as her lack of remorse." WOW, and yet she only got 18 months on the bench, and if she shows up and cries for them in a year and a half, and pays money to JLAP for group therapy ... back in to ride roughshod over hapless clients (or are they "marks") once again! Aint Hoosier lawyering a great money making adventure!!! Just live for the bucks, even if filthy lucre, and come out a-ok. ME on the other hand??? Lifetime banishment for blowing the whistle on unconstitutional governance. Yes, had I ripped off clients or had ANY disciplinary history for doing that I would have fared better, most likely, as that it would have revealed me motivated by Mammon and not Faith. Check it out if you doubt my reading of this, compare and contrast the above 18 months with my lifetime banishment from court, see appendix for Bar Examiners report which the ISC adopted without substantive review: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS

  2. Wow, over a quarter million dollars? That is a a lot of commissary money! Over what time frame? Years I would guess. Anyone ever try to blow the whistle? Probably not, since most Hoosiers who take notice of such things realize that Hoosier whistleblowers are almost always pilloried. If someone did blow the whistle, they were likely fired. The persecution of whistleblowers is a sure sign of far too much government corruption. Details of my own personal experience at the top of Hoosier governance available upon request ... maybe a "fake news" media outlet will have the courage to tell the stories of Hoosier whistleblowers that the "real" Hoosier media (cough) will not deign to touch. (They are part of the problem.)

  3. So if I am reading it right, only if and when African American college students agree to receive checks labeling them as "Negroes" do they receive aid from the UNCF or the Quaker's Educational Fund? In other words, to borrow from the Indiana Appellate Court, "the [nonprofit] supposed to be [their] advocate, refers to [students] in a racially offensive manner. While there is no evidence that [the nonprofits] intended harm to [African American students], the harm was nonetheless inflicted. [Black students are] presented to [academia and future employers] in a racially offensive manner. For these reasons, [such] performance [is] deficient and also prejudice[ial]." Maybe even DEPLORABLE???

  4. I'm the poor soul who spent over 10 years in prison with many many other prisoners trying to kill me for being charged with a sex offense THAT I DID NOT COMMIT i was in jail for a battery charge for helping a friend leave a boyfriend who beat her I've been saying for over 28 years that i did not and would never hurt a child like that mine or anybody's child but NOBODY wants to believe that i might not be guilty of this horrible crime or think that when i say that ALL the paperwork concerning my conviction has strangely DISAPPEARED or even when the long beach judge re-sentenced me over 14 months on a already filed plea bargain out of another districts court then had it filed under a fake name so i could not find while trying to fight my conviction on appeal in a nut shell people are ALWAYS quick to believe the worst about some one well I DID NOT HURT ANY CHILD EVER IN MY LIFE AND HAVE SAID THIS FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS please if anybody can me get some kind of justice it would be greatly appreciated respectfully written wrongly accused Brian Valenti

  5. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

ADVERTISEMENT