Long-time legal aid leader stepping down

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Indiana Legal Services executive director Norman Metzger has announced he will retire March 31, 2015, ending a tenure at the nonprofit that stretched more than four decades.

“Norman has been and remains a committed defender of the legal rights of the poor and vulnerable,” said Mary Fondrisi, president of the ILS board of directors and a partner with Smith Carpenter Fondrisi & Cummins in Jeffersonville. “Through his leadership of ILS, Norman has both personally and indirectly improved the lives of individuals and families throughout Indiana.”

The board of directors has hired Management Information Exchange to conduct a national search for a new executive director to lead ILS.

Metzger has guided what was then known as Legal Services Organization of Indianapolis, Inc. since 1970. Under his leadership, the nonprofit expanded beyond Marion County into central and southern Indiana communities like Bloomington, Evansville, Muncie, Richmond and Terre Haute.

In 2000, at the urging of the organization’s parent, the national Legal Services Corp., Metzger negotiated a merger with the Legal Services of Northwest Indiana, Inc. in Gary to create Indiana Legal Services. The following year, the Legal Services Program of Northern Indiana, Inc. in South Bend and Lafayette joined the organization.

Today, ILS is the largest poverty law firm in Indiana, serving clients in all 92 counties.

A native of Larwill, Metzger graduated from Manchester University and the University of Michigan Law School.

He is credited with helping to pioneer special legal practices in poverty law by assigning experienced attorneys to focus on frequently recurring legal issues in certain disadvantaged populations. The resulting special projects started in the 1980s by tackling the legal problems facing farmers and prison inmates. The projects soon expanded to include special initiatives for AIDS victims.

Currently, ILS has nine special legal projects that respond to complicated legal matters involving housing, consumer rights, health care, immigration and language rights, seniors, the homeless, low-income taxpayers, migrant farm workers and military veterans.
The agency has posted the job announcement on its website and requests résumes by Sept. 12. Anyone interested in applying for the position can find more information by visiting



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  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. maybe if some of the socia workers would treat the foster parents better, they would continue to fostr.

  4. We have been asked to take in a 2 no old baby because mother is in very unstable situation. We want to do this but will need help with expenses such as medical and formula... Do we have to have custody thru court?

  5. Very troubling. A competent public defender is very much the right of every indigent person in the US or the Fifth amendment becomes meaningless. And considering more and more of us are becoming poorer and poorer under this "system," the need for this are greater than ever.... maybe they should study the Federals and see how they manage their program? And here's to thanking all the PD attorneys out there who do a good job.