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. 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.