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Leadership in Law 2014: David L. Swider

Partner, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, Indianapolis • Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, 1978

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15col-Swider.jpg David L. Swider (IL photo/Eric Learned)

David L. Swider is on the “short list” of top management labor and employment law attorneys in Indiana. While he is a nationally recognized speaker in his practice area, clients point to his responsiveness and business sense in their dealings, noting his willingness to provide alternative solutions to their problems and a compassion for them as people. David authored the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s “Model Employee Policies Manual,” which is now in its sixth edition. He is an advocate for young attorneys, often mentoring recent graduates.

If you couldn’t be a lawyer, what would you do for a living?

Write children’s books. I don’t know that I could actually make a living from the endeavor, but I know I would enjoy the ride.

What civic cause is the most important to you?

Because of my core beliefs, I would have to say my work on behalf of Truth @ Work is the most significant to me. Lawfully integrating a private sector business owner’s or executive’s faith into the workplace is intensely satisfying and rewarding to me.

How has the law in labor and employment changed since you started?

I think it has become less business- and more employee-friendly over time, enabling many to use the laws as a sword rather than a shield. Employment-at-will has become all but swallowed up by its exceptions.

You were able to meet President George W. Bush while your son was a White House intern. What was it like meeting the president of the United States?

Having my arms around the president of the United States and my family while we prayed together with him in the privacy of the Oval Office was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will never forget.

Why do you practice in the area of law that you do?

It packs a lot of my passions and strengths into one substantive area. I like solving people’s problems and negotiating business solutions; I enjoy the competition of litigation and appellate advocacy; and I have a knack for making complicated issues understandable to those not well versed in my area of the law. I also have a passion for public speaking.

What’s been the biggest change in the overall practice of law you’ve seen since you began?

It has become a much more competitive field. Having a law degree does not provide the same sense of assured employment and financial well-being as it once did.

What’s something you’ve learned over the years that you wish you could go back in time and tell your younger self?

Don’t worry about those things over which you have no control. Shakespeare put it this way: “Things without all remedy should be without regard.”  

What are some tips for achieving a work/life balance?

No matter how busy I am, I always try to make time each day for faith, family and fitness.  When I can, I add a fourth “F,” friends.

What’s something about you not many people know?

One of my favorite television shows of all time is “The Simpsons.”

You’re very involved with the Actors Theatre of Indiana. Do you act?

While I did a few plays in high school, I have done no serious acting (except in client advocacy roles) since then. Nonetheless, I really enjoy the theatre, especially Broadway musicals. ATI brings that quality of entertainment to Central Indiana.

Is there a moment in your career you wish you could do over?

I once lost a very good client because I took the relationship for granted. That mistake was a good lesson that I have never repeated.

What was the worst or most memorable job you had prior to becoming an attorney?

Working on an auto parts assembly line in high school. It made me appreciate at a young age the value of education.

What class do you wish you could have skipped in law school?

Conflicts of law. Coming from an accounting undergraduate background, I was frustrated by the lack of certainty and predictability in the subject matter.

Why do you think people often have negative stereotypes about lawyers?

On an individual level, the public’s trust in lawyers and the legal system can be shattered if they come away from the experience believing, rightly or wrongly, that the lawyer’s self-interests dominated the results. Often a lack of client communication and responsiveness underlies this problem.  

We hear a lot about civility. Have you noticed a change in how attorneys treat each other since you began practicing?

I am happy to say that I have not. One of the things I have consistently enjoyed throughout my career is how the labor and employment law bar in this state, with very few exceptions, treats each other with professionalism, courtesy and respect.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

Jake Brigance from Grisham’s “A Time to Kill.” Grisham’s southern law school background gives all of his fictional lawyers a realistic, thought-provoking and mildly instructive spin.


 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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