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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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.