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Leadership in Law 2014: Crystal Spivey Wildeman

Associate, Kahn Dees Donovan & Kahn LLP, Evansville • DePaul University College of Law, 2006

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15col-Wildeman.jpg Crystal Spivey Wildeman(Photo Submitted)

Crystal Spivey Wildeman enhances her community and firm every day with her positive, can-do attitude. She inspires others to do and be their very best and seems unable to give any less than 100 percent to the task at hand. While confident in her own ability, this up-and-coming litigator is eager to soak up the wisdom offered from more experienced attorneys. Crystal has extensive trial experience in Indiana and Illinois and often handles matters involving products liability, landlord-tenant, and employment litigation.

You’re licensed to practice in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. Which of the three bar exams was the most difficult?

I’d have to say that the Illinois bar exam was the most difficult. I recall the issues that were covered in the essay questions that particular year seemed more unexpected and obscure than those on the Indiana and Kentucky exams. Also, Illinois procedure can be complicated. There are not just civil rules of practice but also Supreme Court rules, local rules, and statutes that might all be relevant to any one issue.

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

The most memorable job I had was working as a juvenile field probation officer for an Indiana criminal justice pilot program in Monroe County while in college. My job was to randomly check on the offenders ... and then report to the court on their compliance. Most of the kids in the program were from majorly dysfunctional homes. Now, more than a decade later, I still think about some of those kids, which motivates me to dedicate myself to at-risk youth causes.

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

I’m still figuring it out! But, advice I once heard that I have found definitely rings true is that the most important career decision you’ll ever make is whom you choose to marry. I think in order to have balance in our profession, you have to have a spouse who is 100 percent on board with both your family and career goals. I’m very blessed to have that.

What’s something about you not many people know?

I’m an NRA lifetime member.


Why practice in the area of law that you do?

I love to be challenged and I love to learn, which makes practicing civil litigation a natural fit. Every new project and each new person brings both the challenge and the opportunity to learn. I enjoy taking a unique set of circumstances and applying my experience and the law to achieve our goal. As a bonus, I learn something new each time.

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

I attended law school in Chicago. The class that required me to wait for the el for what seemed like an eternity in the frigid, whipping winds in the winter months at 6:00 a.m. … yes, that class, I would’ve been glad to skip!

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

It isn’t a “client,” or a “case,” or a “matter.” They’re people. If you care, listen well, take their problems on as your own and do good work, you’ll never have to worry about having “clients.” Instead, you’ll always be busy and have long-term friends that happen to call you their lawyer.

What civic cause is the most important to you?

I am most passionate about civic causes that focus on youth and the family, such as Youth First Inc., of which I am a board member. The family is the most basic unit of society, which means it is the first defense against most of society’s struggles. Investing in causes that emphasize, promote and strengthen the family and, by extension, the children within that family, leads to stronger communities which, in turn, effect change in society as a whole.

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

A novelist because I love storytelling, or possibly, an event planner because I love to plan and host parties for my friends and children.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I don’t know if it would be considered a “guilty pleasure,” but I don’t think anything makes me happier than reading stories to my daughters. I also love going to antique stores, flea markets, rummage sales and consignment shops to find discarded old things I can change into something else. I call it “treasure hunting.”

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

According to my experience, the overwhelming majority of attorneys are admirable, ethical and professional. They’re leaders in their community and do impressive work inside and outside of the office. However, there is a slim minority of attorneys who, in their quest to win and to be the best, have gone too far. I believe that the poor decision making of these few has led to negative stereotypes about the profession as a whole.

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

Abe Lincoln, because I find his writing and reasoning to be so simple yet brilliant. I have three of his quotes posted in my office, including my favorite: “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

Jack Brigance in “A Time to Kill” because of the compelling closing argument he delivered to the jury. I haven’t had a chance to read “Sycamore Row,” the sequel.


 

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  1. Applause, applause, applause ..... but, is this duty to serve the constitutional order not much more incumbent upon the State, whose only aim is to be pure and unadulterated justice, than defense counsel, who is also charged with gaining a result for a client? I agree both are responsible, but it seems to me that the government attorneys bear a burden much heavier than defense counsel .... "“I note, much as we did in Mechling v. State, 16 N.E.3d 1015 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014), trans. denied, that the attorneys representing the State and the defendant are both officers of the court and have a responsibility to correct any obvious errors at the time they are committed."

  2. Do I have to hire an attorney to get co-guardianship of my brother? My father has guardianship and my older sister was his co-guardian until this Dec 2014 when she passed and my father was me to go on as the co-guardian, but funds are limit and we need to get this process taken care of quickly as our fathers health isn't the greatest. So please advise me if there is anyway to do this our self or if it requires a lawyer? Thank you

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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)

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