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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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