Hebenstreit: Game on

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hebenstreit Michael J. Hebenstreit Whitham Hebenstreit & Zubek LLP IBA President

It has been two years in training, watching first Jim, and then Chris, taking notes, learning, and getting prepared. Now the training is over, I am ready to start, and it is “game on.” It is going to be a busy and productive 2011.

Have you ever stopped to think about why you are a member of the IBA? What is it that makes us worthy of your interest and money? I certainly hope it is the collective good that our Association accomplishes, not only for you individually, but for the profession as a whole. I hope it is because you feel that you receive good value for your dues, both personally and professionally.

Since a year is a relatively short period of time, we generally do not adopt pet projects for the year. Rather, we continue to implement what has already been started and anticipate what your Association should be doing now and in the future. That is not going to change this year; however, I do hope the general themes for this year will be based on Service and Collegiality.

In addition to the many seminars, programs, and initiatives in which the Association is involved, there are a few new items that I anticipate will be coming up this year to serve you, our members. One is a new web based service for connecting our members with potential clients. It differs from the Lawyer Referral Service in that it would allow a potential client to preview information about attorneys on line rather than just getting the name of a possible referral over the telephone. With our new website, this type of project is now possible, as are a number of others. For those of you who understand social media better than I, we are also now on Facebook and Twitter to better say in touch with each of you—if, unlike me, you know how to access this new media. Maybe I will make that a New Years resolution for 2011!

Another issue facing the Association is the number of attorneys who have moved outside the Mile Square. We have a significant number of members around I-465 and beyond. It is important not to lose touch with those members of the bar, and we are developing the technology that will allow us to better serve the needs of outlying lawyers. That type of service is critical. If you happen to be one of those suburban lawyers, please let us know what we can do to better serve you.

We are also investigating ideas to assist the law students since they are the future members of the IBA. I recently read a New York Times article that was very troubling. It reported on the large number of law students emerging from law school with mountains of debt and few, if any, jobs available. Pretty distressing, but the apparent focus of the article accused the nations’ law schools of fraud—with the abundance of cheap student loans the price of tuition at these schools has risen tremendously and the law schools are continuing to entice young people to attend—presumably knowing that there is little hope of meaningful legal employment. I hope the day never comes when law schools have to add a warning label on their admissions packets warning the applicant that attending law school is not a guarantee of great jobs and quick riches. We hope to work with the law school in developing some mentoring and or apprentice programs to better assist the law student cross the bridge between law school and practice of law. Although reasonable minds may differ about how many new lawyers we need, it serves our profession as a whole to have better trained and better prepared colleagues.

So much for Service, but what about Collegiality. The dictionary defines collegiality as the relationship of colleagues. Isn’t that a huge part of what we do? Lawyers are bright, interesting and engaging individuals. Getting to know lawyers on a more personal level makes working opposite an attorney more pleasant----and frequently more productive. Being personally acquainted with other lawyers is not only good for business, but makes the practice more rewarding on a daily basis. The IBA can help with that.

If you are short on time (and who isn’t) I hope that you will at least read the weekly E bulletins and occasionally jump on the website. At a minimum, keep your eye out for the monthly Meeting of Members. They are an easy way to stay in touch with, or meet, other attorneys. Our next monthly meeting is February 17th when Jim Voyles will receive the Buchanan Award. It is a fun event and Jim is certainly deserving of this most prestigious award. In addition to registering yourself, why not bring a friend. Introduce that person to some of your friends and to the concept of Collegiality. I think you will find that it is contagious.

You are being served by a fantastic group of energetic and talented colleagues who have agreed to be Board members as well as Section and Committee leaders. I very much appreciate the trust that you have place in me this year, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve you and lead this terrific organization. It is both a privilege and a responsibility. It is going to be a great ride in 2011. Jump on board and don’t get left behind.•


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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

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  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.