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Abrams: See you in Cincinnati

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jeff abrams ibaBy the time you are reading this article, I will be on my way to the 21st Annual Bench Bar in Cincinnati, Ohio. So, I asked myself when I attended my first Bench Bar, what is a Benesch commercial real estate lawyer going to do at a Bench Bar Conference? The answer? Lots of things.

The Bench Bar Committee routinely provides quality CLE for all of us. I enjoy listening to some of the speakers even as a commercial real estate lawyer. I have the opportunity to reminisce with judges who were in law school with me but with whom I have very little contact anymore as a result of our separate paths in the legal profession. We talk about our kids. We talk about some recollections during law school and embarrassing moments. We talk about some of the people and where they are today. This is all very worthy of our time.

I mingle with other lawyers and while they are primarily litigators, they are still very nice people. I meet family law attorneys, prosecutors, public defenders, other government attorneys, criminal defense attorneys, general practice litigators, solo practitioners, small firm owners, and individuals from all walks of life in our professional community. I meet new people every time that I go to a Bench Bar, and I am much better off for the opportunity to get to know the individuals who have chosen the legal profession for their career. I have opportunities to answer questions about the IndyBar and how it might be able to help their practice. I have the opportunity to connect lawyers with other lawyers who might be able to help them with a particular problem.

I talk with our county, appellate and state Supreme Court judges and justices. How many other situations do we find ourselves in with this incredible opportunity to mingle with our judiciary and learn more about each of them? Conversations include their family, their interests outside sitting on the bench and some interesting insight on how they manage their court. All of this information has helped me as a person and even as a practicing commercial real estate attorney at Benesch, where we have a litigation practice that works with Indy litigators and appears before all of these judges.

When my real estate clients have disputes, the last thing they want is to spend money in litigation. It has been a challenging discussion to explain to a developer, a lender, a landlord, a tenant or a commercial broker that the unfortunate experience in court is the price of doing business in today’s complex business environment. In a perfect world, we would not have disputes, but it does not work that way. We are trained to write documents as carefully and clearly as possible, but even in the best of times, there are two or more interpretations of a document which leads to disputes. Understanding how a judge looks at commercial disputes has been incredibly enlightening and beneficial to my practice.

During Bench Bar there is also time for relaxation, or for some of us, frustration. There is a golf tournament on Thursday where lawyers and judges get to spend four-plus hours hitting a little golf ball around and talking about things totally unrelated to practicing law. But if a “what if” or “how do I” question is posed, I am confident that the lawyers and judges trying to concentrate on playing quality golf still take the time to answer the question and help out a young, aspiring attorney trying to understand the nuances of an area of the law or how the judicial system works.

These are all the great experiences that avail themselves at Bench Bar, and I hope by the time you are reading this article, you also are on your way to Cincinnati. It will be a great few days.•

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  1. 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)

  2. "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.

  3. 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.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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