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Chinn: Back to School

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iba-chinn-scottDoes it feel like it is the end of summer already? Not to me. We’re still so close to the stretch of 90-plus degree days that is making this the hottest summer on record. And even though the Brickyard, the Olympics, and the Indiana State Fair are behind us – I don’t feel ready for fall.

Alas, I have already seen and heard the hustle and bustle of yellow school buses on the move and parents carting their children off to another semester at college. At the law school level, I have already taken part in back-to-school activities. I met some 2L students at a reception at the Maurer School the other evening hosted by my law firm. And on behalf of the IndyBar, I spoke briefly to the incoming 1L class at the McKinney School at orientation weekend.

As much as I try to not waste an opportunity to engage audiences – especially ones made up of impressionable young people – I am quite conscious that what I said to the new students at the McKinney School was ephemeral. Here are my excuses: First, I followed Dean Gary Roberts, Judge Jose Salinas, and Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson. They are impressive people against whom I was going to pale in comparison in any event. Second, my role was necessarily and appropriately limited – to give a welcome to law school on behalf of the profession and, thereby, to introduce them to the IndyBar.

If I had had more time, I would have made slightly headier points. If only I had a forum to do that now, I would … Oh, right. Okay, here goes. Let’s pretend I turned serious in mid-speech:

“… And that’s why the first law school text books were covered in goat skin!

Now, let me give you a few substantive thoughts – three things to keep in the back of your mind as you get acquainted with the elements of torts and contracts. First, you are undoubtedly hearing a lot about how tough the job market is right now, and that coupled with tight hiring are significant changes in the profession that make the future of law practice cloudy. Well, it’s true. The days of plentiful law jobs for new lawyers seem gone for the near future. And no one exactly knows what the long-term holds. But this adversity does give you an opportunity – the opportunity to hone in on what you really want to do. I have long said that key to a long and hopefully happy career in the law is to do something you really are interested in and enjoy. So, every now and then during your law school career, ask yourself what courses you genuinely like the most. Think about how your other intellectual and social interests relate. But you also might end up feeling passionate about a specific legal pursuit, and when you do, for Pete’s sake go for it!

Second, don’t forget that one of the most important parts about being a lawyer – helping people. You are going to help a lot of people who ask for your help (whether or not you get paid for the privilege of your assistance). Lawyers solve problems, they promote peace, and they help lead the direction of institutions – both maintaining them and reforming them. Don’t shrink from these tasks (read: “obligations”), they are what you are trained for.

Finally, become part of the profession. And start that by finding out what we mean by “profession.” It’s the opportunity to engage your fellow lawyers to learn, grow, help, recreate, think, and lead. I’m not asking you to put down the Facebook and the Twitter accounts. Use those avenues to network and use some older ones too – like meeting people for coffee or a beer. I promise you this, even in these economically tough times, the benefits of honest, thoughtful networking – the kind on which real relationships are built – accrue geometrically. We’re trying our damnedest at the IndyBar to support your efforts, because we can’t wait to be your colleagues.

Best wishes on a great year as you start your legal career.”•

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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