Abrams: Law School Orientation—Oh, To Be Young Again!

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jeff abrams ibaI had the honor of attending law school orientation on Saturday, August 16 at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. I sat on the dais with the Honorable Jose Salinas of Marion Superior Court, the Honorable Jane E. Magnus-Stinson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana and McKinney School of Law Dean Andrew Klein. I listened to Dean Klein speak proudly of the couple hundred first-year law students sitting eagerly in the school atrium in anticipation of the first day of school. All of them were nicely dressed and excited to be part of the classes of 2016 and 2017. They were there with their parents, family and friends to begin their journey toward earning their doctor of jurisprudence degrees and standing tall with all of us as attorneys.

Judge Salinas told them to be proud of what they have achieved, but that it is just the beginning of an incredible journey that lies ahead. He noted that he looked forward to having them appear before him at some point in time in the near future—hesitating before he specified “as attorneys”—and that he looked forward to their impressive statements on behalf of their clients. He admonished them that some of them would be right and some of them would be wrong.

Judge Magnus-Stinson reminded students of the five C’s of professionalism:

1. Commitment — We are committed to practicing law in a manner that maintains and fosters public confidence in our profession, faithfully serves our clients and fulfills our responsibilities to the legal system.

2. Character — We will strictly adhere to the spirit as well as the letter of the Rules of Professional Conduct and will at all times be guided by a fundamental sense of honor, integrity and fair play.

3. Competence — We will conduct ourselves to assure the just, economical and efficient resolution of every matter entrusted to us consistent with thoroughness and professional preparation.

4. Courtesy — We will at all times act with dignity, civility, decency and courtesy in all professional activities and will refrain from rude, disruptive, disrespectful, obstructive and abusive behavior.

5. Community Involvement — We recognize that the practice is a learned profession to be conducted with dignity, integrity and honor dedicated to the service of clients and the public good.

She also warned them that their studies and challenges would not be similar to “Paper Chase.” While many of them had stars in their eyes and were clearly not recalling the classic television show, I am sure their parents understood the excitement and challenges that they face.

iba-orientation.jpgIndyBar volunteers share information with 1Ls at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law Orientation on Saturday, August 16.

The students were incredibly attentive to both judges’ comments as I saw very few of them looking down to read and/or respond to an email or text that they might have just received. After I finished listening to two energetic, intellectual and passionate statements from both judges, it was my turn to stand before them as the President of the Indianapolis Bar Association and figure out how I could impart some words of wisdom.

I told them the best way for them to find a job besides studying hard and learning the law was to become an active member of the Indianapolis Bar Association. I described many of the outstanding achievements that our members obtain through service to our community, including Ask a Lawyer, helping eighth graders understand the election process in the United States and our delivery of Constitutions to all new United States citizens during naturalization ceremonies.

I described our creative and energetic attorneys forming the Indy Attorneys Network Section to help lawyers network with and meet other lawyers. This section, to our knowledge, was the first of its kind in any bar association in the country. I conveyed to them the stories of young lawyers meeting their future employers through IndyBar-sponsored monthly luncheons or social events. And, knowing that the students had been there since 9:30 a.m., just after noon I imparted to them the most memorable quote of the day:

Hanging with the Indianapolis Bar Association is the only place to be.
The cost to join is really economical – I guarantee you won’t disagree.
When you come to events, people are friendly and won’t give you the third degree.
And most importantly, you get to meet brilliant, successful and good looking attorneys— just like me.

What more could they ask for in their first day of introduction to the practice of law?•


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.