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American Bar Association gains from Indiana leadership

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Valparaiso law student Bryan Rogers is taking a cue from prior generations of Indiana attorneys who have made the choice to belong to the American Bar Association. Like many Hoosier lawyers have done, he plans to become active in the national organization’s Young Lawyers Division after he graduates. And, like many lawyers he emulates are doing, he is taking a leadership role at the ABA, even while still a student.

Like their colleagues from around the country and even around the world, Hoosier lawyers have always joined and supported the American Bar Association. They have served on committees, chaired sections, participated in seminars and attended meetings.

Rogers, a third-year law student at Valparaiso University Law School, was introduced to the organization during his first year of law school and, in August, became the Law Student Division’s representative on the ABA Board of Governors. He provides the voice and the views of law students to the ABA’s top governing body.
 

rogers-bryanepub-15col.jpg Valparaiso law student Bryan Rogers serves as the law student representative on the ABA’s 38-member board of directors. He provides the voice of law students to the ABA’s top governing body. (Photo courtesy Jeff Lange/ Valparaiso Law School)

His work for the ABA is in addition to his studies and his externship with the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois as well as his part-time clerkship with the Lake County courts. Acknowledging he is an “extremely busy student,” Rogers said his involvement with the association is “very important” to his career.

There, again, the soon-to-be lawyer is a reflection of Indiana attorneys in his dedication to the organization and his belief that membership has great professional benefits.

Jim Dimos, of Frost Brown Todd LLC, sees Indiana lawyers becoming more involved with the ABA. Certainly the size of the contingent from Indiana pales in comparison to the hundreds of lawyers from California or New York who are members, but, he said, Indiana has a significant level of participation especially considering the size of the bar.

In addition, many of these lawyers are assuming leadership posts. Pulling out the ABA Leadership Directory, or what is commonly called the “Red Book,” Dimos flipped to the Indiana section and counted 64 Indiana attorneys who are serving as chairs and section heads.
 

dimos-jim-mug Dimos

He is among those leaders, having been a member of the House of Delegates since 1995 and currently serving on the 38-member Board of Governors as well as the chair of the finance committee, overseeing the association’s annual budget of $107 million.

“I think it’s worth it,” Dimos said of his own participation in the ABA. “It has made me a better lawyer. I am more knowledgeable about things that affect my clients which I do not get in direct practice.”

As an example of Indiana’s growing importance at the national level, Dimos pointed to the appointment of retired Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard to chair the ABA’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education.

Numerous other Indiana lawyers are filling non-leadership positions on committees and sections, adding more value to the ABA. These Midwestern lawyers bring common sense and a clear view of the issues that main street lawyers are facing, he said.

Indiana lawyers, Dimos said, are in a position to shape the issues that are important to the association.

The ABA, with nearly 400,000 members, speaks with a credible voice on major issues like human trafficking, cyber security and funding for the justice system. Laurel Bellows, president of the ABA, touts the association as having a strong reputation for researching issues then offering a national perspective.

That broad view helps give credibility to the association and comes from getting input from all attorneys whether they practice in big states or small, in urban areas or rural communities.

“I think it’s tremendously important to have participation by Indiana lawyers,” Bellows said. “I don’t want to talk only with the voice of New York lawyers or California lawyers. We’re a country and the issues we’re dealing with are quite national.”

Don Lundberg, partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, is applying the expertise he garnered from his 18-year tenure as the executive secretary of the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission to his current appointment on the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. Working on the committee, he said, gives him the opportunity not only to help author opinions on legal ethics but also to learn something new.

“One thing that gets my juices flowing is just thinking about new and interesting questions,” Lundberg said. “It is energizing to be around people concerned with the basic questions of how lawyers conduct themselves.”

A key component of the association’s work on legal ethics is the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Although the rules lack teeth – attorneys who act contrary to the code will not face any repercussions – they have become the template which many states have used to write and enforce their own codes governing lawyer behavior.

The template, Lundberg said, is “increasingly important because the practice of law is becoming increasingly cross-jurisdictional.” Lawyers practice across state lines, and having conflicting rules could be confusing and possibly hinder the service to clients.

When Joe O’Connor, partner at Bunger & Robertson in Bloomington, headed into the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division in 1986, joining the national legal organization was almost expected. Every attorney became a member unless he or she had a compelling reason to not join.

O’Connor is currently a member of the ABA Nominating Committee and served on the Board of Governors from 1998 to 2001.

Today, he does not feel that the drive, nationally, to belong to the ABA is as strong as it once was, yet he believes the Indiana contingent is as healthy as it has always been. Hoosier attorneys may have a strong motivation to join and serve the organization because they are accustomed to taking the initiative and participating in their state and local bar associations, in which membership is also voluntary.

Along with having the opportunity to network and built relationships with lawyers from across the country, ABA members also play a role in securing the rule of law, O’Connor said. The association is viewed as having expertise on legal issues and is a force when it lobbies Congress on matters such as salaries, case loads and the appointments of federal judges.

Moreover, the ABA has helped promote the rule of law in emerging democracies, particularly in Eastern European countries, he said. The organization has assisted in writing country’s constitutions and setting up judicial systems.

Most recently, the Board of Governors held a meeting in Puerto Vallarta and spent time sharing insights with the Mexican Bar Association and answering questions about licensing and regulations.

Rogers, who made the trip with Dimos, credits the ABA with enabling him to explore different practice areas and talk to attorneys from around the country about their work. While still deciding which area of law he wants to practice in, he said being a part of the national association has made his search easier.

The benefits he has already reaped from the ABA are why he plans to continue his membership when he finishes law school.

Dimos wants to duplicate Rogers’ enthusiasm and bring more Indiana lawyers into the ABA.

“My biggest hope is that Bryan, myself, Joe and others will continue to reach out and include other colleagues in the state and grow opportunities for participation as well,” he said.•

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  1. Applause, applause, applause ..... but, is this duty to serve the constitutional order not much more incumbent upon the State, whose only aim is to be pure and unadulterated justice, than defense counsel, who is also charged with gaining a result for a client? I agree both are responsible, but it seems to me that the government attorneys bear a burden much heavier than defense counsel .... "“I note, much as we did in Mechling v. State, 16 N.E.3d 1015 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014), trans. denied, that the attorneys representing the State and the defendant are both officers of the court and have a responsibility to correct any obvious errors at the time they are committed."

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  3. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  4. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  5. 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)

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