Leadership in Law 2014: Brianna J. Schroeder

Associate, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP, Indianapolis • Valparaiso University Law School, 2009

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15col-Schroeder.jpg Brianna J. Schroeder (IL Photo/ Eric Learned)

Brianna J. Schroeder is a self-described farm girl whose put those skills to use in her practice, which includes agricultural and environmental law. She did the heavy lifting on a Right to Farm Act case that has become the leading Indiana decision on the subject. She also currently serves as secretary-treasurer for the Indiana State Bar Association’s Agricultural Law Section. Brianna remains active with her alma mater, serving as the vice-president of the Central Indiana Valparaiso Law School Alumni Council, in which she hopes to bring alumni and current law students closer socially and professionally.

You’ve worked in Peru, visited Israel while in law school, and have traveled to many other countries. How many stamps are in your passport, and what is it that you love about traveling?

Funny thing is that right now, the only stamp in my passport is a Russian visa from a trip to Moscow and Saint Petersburg this winter with my fiancé. I had to renew my passport and start over on stamps. I love going to new places, especially places that are very different from my everyday life. Russia definitely qualified – I recommend visiting!

You’d like to eventually teach, possibly high school civics classes. Why is civics education important?

I think students need a basic understanding of our governmental structure. It teaches why voting is important, how our leaders are chosen, what roles are played by each part of the government, and so many other fundamentals. Civics likely seems elementary to lawyers, but many high school students have a hard time explaining the difference between the branches of government.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

Elle Woods – you don’t have to change who you are to be an effective lawyer.

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

I worked as a bookie for a (legal) greyhound racing track in college. It is no longer in business.

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

Don’t give up your pre-law hobbies or friends. Take time out from your practice to develop your other interests. I love the time I spend playing sand volleyball, reading and traveling.

Why practice in the area of law that you do?

Environmental law is constantly changing. That and the interplay of federal, state and local laws keeps me on my toes. I also love my agricultural work, because I grew up on a family farm.

If you could meet and spend the day with one lawyer from history, who would it be and why?

John Adams. His defense of the British soldiers after the Boston Massacre while the city was on edge was such a courageous move and showed the importance of legal counsel for the accused.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Turning my cell phone off and getting lost in a historical biography with a glass or two of red wine.

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

So many people don’t actually know any lawyers except those in movies and television. Crazy lawyers make for good entertainment but don’t accurately depict the vast majority of attorneys I know.

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

I don’t know what class I wish I could have skipped, but I wish I had taken an environmental law class.

What is the most important lesson you learned from your mentor?

Be ready and willing to embrace new opportunities. Even if it isn’t what you thought your next step would be, be ready for whatever comes next! Take chances and try new things. You’re more likely to regret passing up an opportunity than you are to regret seizing the chance to do something new.

What’s something about you not many people know?

I twirled baton for about 10 years. It was not my best look.


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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.