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Annual Talk to a Lawyer event a success

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While the official numbers are not yet available from Monday's statewide Talk to a Lawyer Today event that annually takes place on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, all 14 pro bono districts participated.

Attorneys who work in District 8 - Boone, Hamilton, Marion, Hendricks, Hancock, Johnson, Morgan and Shelby counties - participated at the statewide call-in center at the Indiana State Bar Association. There, 26 lawyers talked to 322 callers yesterday, up from 266 last year, according to Laurie Beltz Boyd, the district plan administrator for Heartland Pro Bono Council. Boyd and others who participated said they noticed an increase in the number of calls from Marion County but said it was likely because of the publicity the event received from Indianapolis-based media outlets.

As to why lawyers participate, two Indianapolis city lawyers who volunteered at the call-in center said there were multiple reasons. Steve Neff and Leannette Pierce have volunteered every year since 2005. They agreed the CLE was a good deal; a six-hour CLE is offered to all volunteers in exchange for taking one pro bono case and volunteering two hours at Talk to a Lawyer. While Neff and Pierce cannot take pro bono cases because of their positions with the city, they paid a nominal fee instead.

Both said it was a good experience to talk about a number of legal issues with members of the community. This year, Pierce said she heard more child support questions than before; Neff said he answered many questions about debt and bankruptcy issues. Each attorney received 10 calls during the 9 to 11 a.m. shift.

While some attorneys are intimidated because they aren't used to multiple areas of law, Pierce said the book volunteers receive is very thorough. She added the book has been helpful after the event when relatives ask her legal questions she doesn't know offhand.

In District 2 - St. Joseph, Elkhart, Kosciusko, and Marshall counties - a Talk to a Lawyer event took place at the St. Joseph County Public Library. Amy McGuire, executive director of the St. Joseph County Bar Association, said 18 attorneys and 10 paralegals helped more than 90 people with a variety of legal issues. McGuire said the event was so successful and appreciated by the library that the library invited the bar association and the South Bend-based Volunteer Lawyer Network Inc. to have a similar event on a monthly basis.

In District 13 ­- Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Knox, Martin, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties -12 attorneys and five paralegals helped prepare 29 wills as part of the Volunteer Lawyer Program of Southwestern Indiana Inc.'s partnership with Southwest Behavioral Healthcare. Indiana Lawyer reported on this partnership in the Aug. 19-Sept. 1, 2009, edition, "Project helps patients create wills." 

District 13 also has a regular Talk to a Lawyer Today program on the first Thursday of every month. In District 3 - Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wells, and Whitley counties - 48 attorneys and six non-attorney volunteers helped 193 people, based on information from Indianapolis attorney Patricia McKinnon, who volunteers and helps track statistics statewide.

McKinnon also told Indiana Lawyer that in District 14 - Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Crawford, Orange, Washington, and Scott counties - seven attorney volunteers answered 16 calls, mostly about family law issues. In District 1 ­- Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski, and Starke counties - plan administrator Judith Stanton was still compiling the data from multiple sites in her area. She did say the number of people asking for help was up in Starke County and down at the Valparaiso University School of Law site.

This event has been sponsored by the Indiana State Bar Association since 2002.

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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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