By Julie M. Armstrong
In November, 2000 then Indianapolis Bar Association President Karen Turner, Indiana Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm, and Indianapolis lawyer Patty McKinnon teamed up to make the Indianapolis Bar’s first Ask a Lawyer a reality. The brainchild of the late Hon. Paul H. Buchanan, Jr., Ask a Lawyer was created to give all Indianapolis citizens the opportunity not just to gain free access to an attorney, but to personalize the profession.
Judge Buchanan thought that if more people knew a lawyer, really had an opportunity to sit and talk with a lawyer, it would be more difficult to think the worst of those who practice law. He knew how highly he regarded the people he encountered in practice and wanted to share them with those in need. From that desire Ask a Lawyer began.
Armed with Judge Buchanan’s vision and monetary support, IBA President Karen Turner began seeking key volunteers to turn the vision into a reality. First on board was Justice Boehm who agreed to oversee the creation of The Commonly Asked Questions About Indiana Law, which still serves as the handbook for Ask a Lawyer volunteers.
Patty McKinnon joined the team to shape the recruitment plan for the 100 volunteer attorneys needed to make the program a success. Within a few short months sites were secured, all volunteer spots were filled, and the handbook was complete. Ask a Lawyer was born.
Since that time Ask a Lawyer has continued to be held twice each year averaging service to over 350 central Indiana residents per session. That’s over 3,500 people getting to know a lawyer, not just asking a lawyer. Judge Buchanan must be proud.
Play a role in celebrating our tenth year by volunteering to assist with our October 12, 2010 session. Attorneys are needed to staff the following Marion County Library locations from 2-4 p.m. or 4-6 p.m.:
To volunteer please contact IBA Pro Bono Coordinator Caren Chopp at firstname.lastname@example.org.•
Julie Armstrong has been on staff at the Indianapolis Bar since 1991, serving as Executive Director of the Association and Foundation since 1995.