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Blomquist: A Shout Out for Humility and Knowing When to Ask

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blomquist-kerryNo, I am not living with my mother. My mother is living with me. There’s a big difference; the fact that I am paying the mortgage, being the most critical one. Mom is staying with me for a few weeks post surgery and although we have both been previously suspect of this arrangement in concept, the reality has been pretty cool. My mother continues to mentor style, grace and humanity for me, and her life lessons have only changed in design, not in substance or indeed (candidly) force.

But that is a good thing—we all need that person who will unapologetically pull us aside and tell us what we don’t necessarily want to hear. Need to hear, yes; want to hear, no. Nothing can replace the sound, albeit brutal, advice of a parent, a friend, a colleague or a loved one.

Speaking of which, I had the same experience last week when I was working far out of my professional expertise on a different type of litigation. I was out of my comfort zone and needing some wise counsel and handholding. Quoting another force to be reckoned with parallel to my mother, I “screwed my courage to the sticking point1” and asked an IndyBar colleague for advice, help and salvation. What I heard was not what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear, and that “reach out” probably kept me from making a professional mistake. Shout out for humility and knowing when to ask. I don’t care who you are or how long you have practiced law—respect is garnered if you ask for help when needed. I know that when colleagues call me to ask about my expertise instead of going it alone and praying for the best, they rise a notch or two in my book.

You are probably receiving your IndyBar membership renewal forms right about now. Take a moment to review the new format to realize that the legal world is indeed your oyster. When I re-upped this year I changed it up and expanded my Plus CLE options so I can choose the sections I am interested in now and book the CLE later when my schedule allows. It is paid for upfront so I have all year to see what works for me. I love that I can experiment depending on my interest. Maybe it is time for me to take a CLE on the new health care requirements and how this could affect those of my mother’s generation—who better to learn it from than an IndyBar member with that expertise? I will be a better daughter and a better lawyer for it.

The most valuable benefit of IndyBar membership is the built-in supportive community whether you are taking CLE, consulting with a colleague or learning from other leaders. Last month was the IndyBar Past President’s Dinner, which is one of my favorite events of the year because past, current and future leadership literally fellowship and share stories and a meal. It is irreplaceable, because as much as we can get into our own heads about our “issues,” chances are someone in that room has had a similar challenge, and we can learn from how they handled it. We all stand on the broad shoulders of those who have come before us, and I only hope I can offer what wisdom I have gained this year to future bar leaders. I hope they ask.

I am also enormously grateful for a Board of Directors and an Executive Committee that in 2013 has helped me sift through the day-to-day challenges of bar leadership. We as practitioners, leaders, sons, daughters, parents and partners can learn so much if we just ask. Don’t wing it and hope for the best if you don’t have to. Choose humility and don’t presume you know all of the answers.

Because one day, just when you think you have it all figured out and you have one foot out of the door on your way to work, you will hear your mother say “You’re wearing that?”•

1 Lady Macbeth.

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  1. Bill Satterlee is, indeed, a true jazz aficionado. Part of my legal career was spent as an associate attorney with Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso. Bill was instrumental (no pun intended) in introducing me to jazz music, thereby fostering my love for this genre. We would, occasionally, travel to Chicago on weekends and sit in on some outstanding jazz sessions at Andy's on Hubbard Street. Had it not been for Bill's love of jazz music, I never would have had the good fortune of hearing it played live at Andy's. And, most likely, I might never have begun listening to it as much as I do. Thanks, Bill.

  2. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  3. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  4. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  5. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

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