Attorney, ICLU founder dies

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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A prominent and well-respected labor attorney who had a great impact on Indianapolis and the legal community died July 27.

Alan T. Nolan, an attorney, author, and historian, was 85. Calling and a memorial service will be Aug. 10 and 11.

Nolan was born in Evansville and moved to Indianapolis at the age of 10. He attended Harvard Law School and clerked for Sherman Minton at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. He returned to Indianapolis in 1948 and practiced law for 45 years with the firm that is now Ice Miller.

Nolan was one of the first attorneys in the labor practice at the firm at that time and helped to create it, said Ice Miller partner Byron Myers, who counted both Nolan and his brother, Val, as advisers. When Myers was in law school, Val Nolan was a professor at Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington and was Myers' mentor. When he joined the law firm, Alan Nolan became his mentor.

"I worked with Alan for years here," Myers said. "Alan was just an excellent attorney, a consummate professional that I was privileged to know as a colleague and a friend for many years."

Nolan practiced at Ice Miller until he retired in 1993. During his legal career, he served as chairman of the firm's management committee and spent seven years as chairman of the Disciplinary Commission of the Indiana Supreme Court. He and another attorney from his firm helped found the Indiana Civil Liberties Union in the early 1950s, now known as the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. It was controversial at the time because some people believed the ACLU was linked to communism, according to historical accounts.

Nolan also had a passion for history, especially the Civil War. He authored several books about it, including "The Iron Brigade: A Military History," which has been named by Civil War Times Illustrated as one of the "100 best books ever written on the Civil War."

Nolan would travel to lecture at universities, round tables, and the Smithsonian Institution. His interest in history led to an active role at the Indiana Historical Society where he served on the board and was a chairman for 12 years during the planning and construction of the current facility. Myers said many people at Ice Miller have read Nolan's books and that he was a fascinating man to talk with about history and the Civil War.

"Al was a wonderful guy. He had the kind of personality that no one could ever dislike him," Myers said. "If someone was an adversary in a case, he treated everyone with respect. I never heard anyone speak ill of Al Nolan."

Calling will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Indiana Historical Society, 450 W. Ohio St., Indianapolis. An hour of calling will precede the 11 a.m. memorial service Aug. 11 at St. Thomas Aquinas, 4625 N. Kenwood Ave., Indianapolis. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Indiana Historical Society, the Ensemble Music Society, Civil War Preservation Trust, or a favorite charity.

Nolan is survived by his wife, Jane Ransel DeVoe; children Patrick A. Nolan, Mary F. Nolan, Thomas C. Nolan, Elizabeth T. Nolan, John V. Nolan, John C. DeVoe, Ellen R. DeVoe, and Thomas R. DeVoe; sister, Kathleen Lobley; and 20 grandchildren.

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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues