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Blomquist: Changing the World and Having a Good Time Through The IndyBar Bar Leader Series

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blomquist-kerryMe again. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you that I once dreaded the idea of writing these columns. I really did. When you go to American Bar Association’s Bar Leadership Institute (lovingly labeled “Charm School” by IndyBar leadership and staff), there are entire workshops devoted to these columns. I’ve been to a few and I’m not going to lie, there are two types of people at these things.

There are the ones that are grateful for the opportunity to lead the Bar but look at the column-writing requirement as a prodigious source of stress. Yeah, that was me.

The other group—not so much. You know the type. Instead of feeling the pressure to create informative, entertaining and consistent work product, they are certain they are needed to share their wisdom with the minions of the bar. We haven’t seen too many of these at the IndyBar, and personally I think that is a good thing.

Here is my point: early on I coped with the anxiety described above by deciding I was going to use this column to praise the good people and work of the Indianapolis Bar Association and Foundation. I was cautiously optimistic that I would have enough material to keep me writing and I am happy to report that six months into it, it has been a breeze.

For example: last month was the graduation and final project presentation of the IndyBar Bar Leader Series Class X. The Bar Leader Series was developed ten years ago to give young lawyers the opportunity to not only learn from other leaders in this community, but to develop their own leadership style through project creation and management. Bar leader candidates learn to communicate, motivate, collaborate and succeed in teams, each focused on a project to benefit our community.

A brief word about expectations: There is more than one quotation out there about how keeping expectations low always leads to being satisfied. While I relied on this advice when I was traveling with toddlers, now I fear it is dated, because quite literally, the bar has been set very, very high. The presentations of the five teams in Bar Leader Class X were extraordinary, and I would be remiss if I did not use this moment to tell you what good work these young lawyers, under the leadership of Bar Leader Series Class X Chair Kevin McGoff and his committee, accomplished.

One team collaborated with Growing Near West to recognize the ”urban desert” of the near Westside and respond by helping that community plant an urban garden near the Friendship West Side Center for Excellence. The result: healthy fresh and affordable food for residents.

Another team recognized a common need for financial literacy among young people in their community. In this time of educational cutbacks, learning about how to budget and manage money is just not a widely taught skill in most schools, in in response to this, these young lawyers developed and gifted a program designed to do just that.

Another team identified the problem of bullying in schools, and not only developed and presented a live program at a local elementary school but engaged in role play and discussion to get those kids talking about what they see and how best to react.

One team was motivated by their personal experiences with friends and relatives with disabilities to address the challenges that families with children with disabilities incur. They partnered with Indianapolis Public Schools and the Damar Center to provide resources for families with this very real need.

The final team was preaching to my choir when they partnered with the Julian Center and Dress for Success to donate gently used suits and accessories to women in crisis working to gain independence. A shout out to the one kind soul alleged to have donated over 100 suits. May you not be deafened by the echo in your closet.

One of my favorite quotes in the world is from author and humorist EB White and it goes like this: “I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.”

This could be the mission statement for the Bar Leader Series. Young lawyers: Consider applying for Class XI—the IndyBar is accepting applications right now. Go to the IndyBar website for more information, plan your day, change the world and have one hell of a good time.•

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