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. 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.