From what started as a 30-member group in 1878 to what is now a growing association with nearly 5,000 members, the IBA has come a long way since well before we became members. With the original intention of providing a law library and a central gathering place for the local legal community, the Bar has grown into an association involved in everything from legal education, local legislation, judicial excellence, pro bono service, and so much more. Despite enormous growth and change, the Bar’s core has remained the same: service to its members and the community, and the unfaltering excellence of those that we are lucky to call our fellow lawyers and judges.
Through the years, the IBA has seen members move on, move up, and move out. We have said hello to new faces and good bye to dear friends. Like the change in the seasons, our most senior lawyers have moved over to make way for young attorneys fresh out of school. Our members have become as diverse in person as in practice, and we have room for more. Still, as we prepare today for the future for our association and profession, we nevertheless love to hear the stories of “back in the day”, when the courtroom community was small, laughter had a part in our daily practice, and a handshake sealed the deal over lunch.
Do you know the history of our Bar or those members that have preceded you? Did you know that the Indiana Historical Society maintains the IBA records from 1878 to 1987, consisting of 4.25 linear feet of Bar history? (I am not sure if that includes the four manuscript boxes and the one oversized folder in addition to the 29 bound volumes.) There is an impressive box and folder inventory that includes everything from meetings of minutes to the guest book for the Centennial Celebration held on November 30, 1978. If you are interested in something a little more recent, however, chances are that you’ll look for it on the web. Sadly enough, you’ll not find a lot. The IBA and its members have long been good at making history, and not as good at preserving it.
Google Indianapolis judges and you might find Judge’s Barbeque in Indianapolis. Search for detailed information on many of our local judges and you are likely to come up with similar scant results. The Bar has a goal of creating a comprehensive history of our lawyer leaders and many recorded conversations from past legal icons exist today as a result. The intention is to make our history available in a user-friendly format that is accessible when you want it and how you want it. That project will continue on.
In the meantime, however, as the investiture ceremonies of two new federal court judges approaches, we thought it a fitting time to start honoring members’ achievements with a lasting gift. As a result, the IBA has commissioned the creation of biographies befitting of the honor and perfect for web placement. In the near future, we will be unveiling the biographies of the Honorable Jane Magnus Stinson and the Honorable Tanya Walton Pratt, not just for our legal community, but the community at large. With only one other female judge on the Southern District bench, the Women & the Law Division of the IBA has agreed to sponsor the creation of a biography for the Honorable Sarah Evans Barker. Our excitement to release these biographies is only matched by our determination to continue with this project, building a legal history one biography at a time and leaving a lasting legacy available at the touch of your fingertips.
And so, you ask, Napoleon who? Not Napoleon Bonaparte or Napoleon Dynamite. Rather, the Napoleon to which the title refers is Napoleon B. Taylor, a man famous in his own right. He was, in 1878, the first President of the Indianapolis Bar Association.•