Blomquist: The IBA Bench Bar Conference, Well Worth the 'Conference Depression' Risk

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blomquist-kerryHere is a new phrase for me: “Conference Depression.”

According to the Urban Dictionary, the definition of “conference depression” is: “Being extremely depressed after an awesome weekend at a conference.” Withdrawal usually lasts a day or two depending on the conference. Example:

Q: “Dude what’s up with him?”

A: “He just came back from Bench Bar and his ‘conference depression’ is really bad.”

Prediction: On Monday, June 17th, 2013, the moon will be 53 percent visible in the night sky, fathers will be boycotting any and all food after an indulgent Father’s Day, and many Indianapolis lawyers and judges will be suffering from “conference depression” because the IndyBar Bench Bar conference was held just a few days before.

I’m that confident.

Our 2013 IndyBar Bench Bar is June 13th to the 15th in Louisville and it’s gearing up to be the biggest and best one yet. It’s not often lawyers and judges can mix business with pleasure, but over the past 20 years this conference has become known as the premier event to do just that, and in casual attire no less.

Confession of a Bench Bar junkie: I don’t need the CLE and in 20 years I have never been “sent” to this conference. It has always been on my time and on my dime, but it has been one of the best investments I have ever made. It is where I have made great friends that I occasionally get to practice with and to whom I can refer clients (with money). It is where I have met judges from all benches that have become my friends and my colleagues. And it is where I know I will get quality, entertaining CLE because my colleagues are the experts in what they do.

Co-chairs of this year’s 20th Anniversary Bench Bar Conference are Judges Annie Christ-Garcia and Bob Altice who, with their committees, have been working tirelessly to put together a stellar program of events. Highlights are almost too many to mention but include a new in-house counsel track to accompany existing tracks in family, civil and criminal law; golf on Thursday for the brave and the talented (I’m brave); dinner at Quattro, a highly acclaimed chef-owned restaurant in Louisville; and an encore presentation of Trivia Night to benefit the Bar Foundation, which is always a good time.

While this is an unapologetic commercial for Bench Bar, this is also an opportunity for associates to learn and for partners to lead. Any bar leader will tell you that the two questions most frequently asked us by young lawyers are: How can we effectively network and how can we develop a client base? To each of those, the answer is the same. Work your soft skills. Nothing can replace the contacts, the referral sources and the friends you can garner at a conference like this. Especially in this economy, investing in your legal community pays off more than you know. Let’s face it; in this era of voicemail, email, conference calls and webinars, it is the face-to-face natter that falls by the wayside while that is precisely what often determines success. We used to meet people and follow up by email. Now we forge relationships by email and are surprised (positively or negatively) if or when we finally meet them in person.

Confession, lest you doubt I live in a glass house.

I reached out to Frost Brown Todd’s Tom Davis a couple of weeks ago to ask him to reflect on the history of Bench Bar. Twenty years ago, when “T.D” penned this same column, his IndyBar legacy became the Bench Bar Conference. Along with colleagues John Baker, Tony Metz, Jim Babcock and the late great Neil Shook, he choreographed the first of these conferences and IndyBar history was made. By “reaching out,” however, I mean I emailed him some questions. What was shot back was an absolutely appropriate and bracing: “Really? Can’t we just meet in person?”

Ouch. “Snap,” as my teens would say.

The result was the most delightful hour I have spent in a long, long time inadvertently reinforcing the argument that nothing comes close to personal contact. It is what we need to do more of as professionals and as people. Bench Bar is a great place to start. Take a look at the agenda, make your plans now, and prepare to have some fun. Information and registration can be found online at•


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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.