IBA Bar Leader: A Graduate's Perspective

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Erin Durnell By Erin Durnel

On May 18th, I had the privilege of attending the graduation session of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series Class VII. Each year, the Series class is composed of twenty-five lawyers in their third through tenth years of practice who meet monthly from September through May. The class is further divided into five small groups, each one responsible for planning and implementing a community service project as a requirement for successful completion of the Series. Prior to the graduation celebration, the final session of the Series is dedicated to providing the class members with an opportunity to give a presentation explaining their projects – including the successes and challenges that they faced in the process – to their classmates, representatives of IBA leadership, and other special guests.

As a graduate of Bar Leader Series Class V, and a member of the Steering Committee for Classes VI, VII and next year’s VII, I can appreciate the time and energy that the groups put into their community service projects. Every year that I observe the final presentations, I am amazed at the quality of the projects. Every year, I am proud of the participants and their dedication to completing the Series. And every year, I am humbled to be a part of the Bar Leader Series community.

During the graduation session, it occurred to me that many IBA members probably aren’t aware of this excellent program. Many have no idea that each year, an ever-increasing number of worthy attorneys submit applications to compete for a spot in the upcoming class. Many are unaware that the participants have unparalleled opportunities for professional development and personal growth during the nine-month program.

The Series kicks off each year in August with an informal gathering to allow incoming class members to meet and interact with Series alumni. The class then travels to Southern Indiana for an overnight retreat in September that provides concerted leadership training and sets the stage for the rest of the program. Thereafter, the class meets monthly for half-day sessions. Lunch discussions with special guests provide fascinating insights into the lives of community leaders. The “substantive” portion of each monthly meeting is deliberately planned to offer both CLE and thought-provoking information about the Indianapolis community, its history, challenges, and future.

Why does the IBA offer the Bar Leader Series, and why does the Indianapolis Bar Foundation continue to financially support this program? Simply put, “why” can be answered by acknowledging the “who”: graduates of Bar Leader Series are our future partners, future judges, future IBA presidents, and future community leaders.

The future isn’t very far away – graduates of the Series already serve in leadership roles in the Association and the Foundation. By offering this program, the IBA and IBF are investing in the future of our profession by training attorneys to be better leaders – lawyers of integrity and unwavering dedication to the practice of law. They are the “who.” And they are a worthy “why.”


Erin Durnell is a family law attorney with Broyles Kight & Ricafort and a graduate and steering committee member of the IBA’s Bar Leader Series.Bar Leader Graduates


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

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  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.