ILNews

A century of Indiana lawyers

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Patrick Myers Sullivan became one of the state’s newest attorneys this spring, and in doing so a fourth consecutive generation in his family entered the legal profession.

The 25-year-old Indianapolis lawyer follows in the footsteps of four other family members, including one Marion County judge and another who served on the Indiana Supreme Court in the mid-20th century.

sullivan New attorney Patrick Myers Sullivan (right) represents the fourth consecutive generation in his family to become an Indiana attorney, following his father, John J. Sullivan, (left) and three others who were lawyers or judges. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

On May 16, Sullivan joined 131 other new lawyers who were sworn in at the Indiana Supreme Court’s ornate courtroom inside the state capitol building in Indianapolis.

“As a parent, you’re always proud to see your children achieve,” said Patrick’s father and Indianapolis attorney John Sullivan with Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy. “I never pushed him to become a lawyer, but it is a pretty proud moment to see him get through the rigors of law school and pass the bar exam to where he is now.”

Families with multiple generations of lawyers are far from uncommon, but it is rare to have multiple generations of consecutive attorneys with prominent histories stretching back more than a century.

myers Patrick’s grandfather Judge Joseph Norwood Myers Sr. was a past Indianapolis Bar Association president who served on the Marion County Municipal Court for more than three decades starting in 1952. He died in 2009.

Growing up in the family that he did, the young Sullivan says he had several role models to look up to in the legal profession. First, there’s his dad, John, who was admitted in 1976 and has been an influential member of the bar through the years. He has been with the same firm since the mid-1980s and helped pioneer the federal medical savings account legislation more than a decade ago. He’s been active in local and national politics, including his time on the Indiana Recount Commission in 1988, running several presidential campaigns in Indiana, and making an unsuccessful bid for Indianapolis mayor in 1983.

Then there are the past generations, donning the barrister tag with the Myers moniker that John Sullivan married into: Patrick’s grandfather is Judge Joseph Norwood Myers Sr., a past Indianapolis Bar Association president who served on the Marion County Municipal Court for more than three decades starting in 1952. He retired in the late 1980s and died in 2009 at the age of 93.

Patrick’s great-uncle Walter Myers Jr. started out as a deputy prosecutor in Marion County and was an attorney for the county board of sanitary commissioners before an unsuccessful bid for the Marion Superior and Circuit courts. He went on to become the Democrat choice for the Indiana Appellate Court in 1958 – these were the days before merit selection – and served until 1962 when he defeated Justice Arch N. Bobbitt for a spot on the state Supreme Court. He served as a justice until his death in 1967.

myers Patrick’s great-uncle Walter Myers Jr. started out as a deputy prosecutor in Marion County and municipal attorney before he was elected to the Indiana Appellate Court in 1958. He defeated Justice Arch N. Bobbitt on the Indiana Supreme Court in 1962, and served until his death in 1967.

Walter D. Myers Sr., Patrick’s great grandfather, was a prominent lawyer who practiced in Indianapolis for more than 60 years, being the first of the family admitted to the bar in this state after receiving an L.L.B. from Indiana University in 1907. He worked in multiple municipal roles before becoming speaker of the Indiana House in 1931 and special counsel to a U.S. Senate committee in 1936. In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him as Fourth Assistant Postmaster General. He ran unsuccessfully for Indianapolis mayor in 1925 as an anti-Ku Klux Klan candidate and then in 1928 for the U.S. Senate. He also wrote a number of articles and law books including “‘The Guv’: A Tale of Midwest Law and Politics.”

“That all carries on to me, and shows the responsibility and fairness that has been a part of my family,” Patrick said. “My family set the bar really high on what I hoped to accomplish, and having that family legacy instilled upon me the belief that I could do it. Those role models were there to show me it was possible.”

Even with that family history, the law wasn’t always what Patrick saw as his career choice. When he was younger, he thought about getting into science or a related field. That evolved into business and pushed him to Georgetown University, where he earned his undergraduate degree in business administration.

His father says they didn’t discuss specifics of cases at home, but his son knew of some of the clients and legal issues his father was handling. Politics was always a big part of the family, as well, and Patrick said he took an interest in that and helped on political campaigns as he grew up.

“Four generations is a lot of lawyers and he’s been exposed to it all of his life, but I never directed him to be a lawyer and told Patrick and all my children they could do whatever they wanted and I’d support them,” the elder Sullivan said, pointing out that he has a daughter who’s a doctor doing a pediatric internship, another daughter pursuing a master’s in creative writing, and a son who’s a college junior studying economics.

But the family history helped mold his career choice as he got older, Patrick said. He grew up living only a few minutes from his grandfather, the Marion County judge, and had exposure to stories and that way of life. He recalls his grandfather telling stories about how things had changed with law school admissions and court procedures and having technology in the courtroom.

“As I got interested in society and the world around me, that concern for my fellow man and finding a skill set where I could help people is what mostly pushed me toward law school,” he said. “The advocacy that I saw through my family, particularly my dad and grandfather, was a major influence in my life.”

myers Patrick’s great grandfather Walter D. Myers Sr. practiced in Indianapolis for more than 60 years, starting in 1907 working as a municipal attorney before becoming speaker of the Indiana House in 1931. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 appointed him as Fourth Assistant Postmaster General.

That all led him back to Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis, where he graduated in December 2010. He took and passed the bar exam in February.

Patrick is now working at the same law firm as his dad and doing general legal work – researching, drafting cases, and, most recently, assisting with a case before the Indiana Supreme Court. He hasn’t had any cases on his own yet, but he’s hoping that day comes soon and he is able to continue becoming familiar with the practice of law while learning from others at the firm.

One of the new lawyer’s most interesting recent legal experiences wasn’t even connected to his new law degree – it was being summoned for jury duty soon after being admitted to the state bar. He served on a criminal jury in Marion Superior Court and saw the real effect of the profession.

“It presented a new perspective of the courtroom process and how it’s all interpreted by non-lawyers, and I was able to take a step back and see everything from the other side. That kind of grounds you about what this law degree really means in the real world,” he said.

Patrick says his background in business could lead him to the corporate counsel side of the legal community. He is interested in being an attorney as part of a business where he can handle issues such as mergers, acquisitions, and anti-trust matters.

“Maybe I’ll look at an in-house or general counsel type of role, where I can be a part of the actual business decisions that are happening rather than just offering a retrospective legal analysis,” he said.

Still, the new lawyer hasn’t ruled out following in the judicial footsteps of his grandfather or great-uncle.

“That’s always a possibility. Being a judge would be a great career,” he said. “You never know.”•

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. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

ADVERTISEMENT