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Blomquist: Reflecting on a Great Year with Gratitude

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blomquist-kerryMy last column begins with my favorite quote from E.B. White, which also rests on my signature line as Legal Counsel for the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

“I wake up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult.”

This quote reminds me daily to focus on the priorities in my life and to be sincerely grateful for the opportunity, because I get to be one of the lucky ones who gets to do this work. With this in mind, I owe a great deal of thanks to those who made this year a successful one for the Indianapolis Bar Association.

Let me be clear: this bar association runs HUNDREDS of programs every year—with a volunteer leadership of 29 board members and a staff of 10. With that, every year we pull off extraordinary events like the Bench Bar Conference, the Diversity Job Fair, the IndyBar Bar Review Course and the Bar Leader Series. Our sections, divisions and taskforces not only put on hundreds of hours of programming for our members every year, but they engage and give back to the legal and non-legal community because it is in line with our mission and it is the right thing to do. Our pro bono programs have served a record number of people in 2013 in designated programs, in person with Ask a Lawyer and by phone with Legal Line. This year we have matched those seeking lawyers with IndyBar lawyers in our civil and criminal modest means programs, our online IndyLawyerFinder.com, and our Lawyer Referral Service. In 2013, we took CLE online and there are now more than 100 programs available online that you can watch in the comfort of your home or office—and earn CLE while doing it.

The list goes on and on, but it bears repeating that all of this is done with a volunteer leadership of 29 board members and a staff of 10. That is amazing by anyone’s standards.

A word of thanks to the IndyBar staff: Executive Director Julie Armstrong has likely built the most talented, creative and innovative staff of any bar association in this country. She finds people with raw talent who are, above all energetic and capable and she manages them in such a way as to play to their strengths to gently guide them to where she needs them to be. We are lucky to have her leadership.

From a leadership standpoint, what makes this bar work as well as it does is the perfect storm of how we are alike and how we are different. The things that make us different—our practice areas, our families, our ages, our beliefs, our politics and our way of seeing the world — works for us and not against us BECAUSE we can dialogue, debate and discuss. More than once in 2013 I have taken my view of the world — and accordingly my view on an issue to either the board or the Executive Committee specifically to ask for the contrary, and to listen. The result was unequivocally a more balanced view, which is why the leadership of this bar association works.

The other part of that perfect storm is what we have in common as the leaders of this profession and of this bar. I cannot be more sincere when I say thank you to all of the people that have given their time, their energy, the money and their expertise to help this association fulfill its mission in 2013, which is to serve our members, promote justice and enhance the legal profession.
 

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And finally, a nod to our families: for my children Michael and Eric, my partner John Bennett, my mother, the iconic Ruth Ann Hyatt; and my wonderful friends and colleagues at ICADV. This is my amazing family. IndyBar board member and past president Phil Isenbarger said it best at the 2013 Board Dinner earlier this month when he said we cannot do this work without those important people in our lives. No matter what we do or how busy we may be — we have to be able to recharge in the quiet presence of unconditional and accepting love. To my family: thank you, now and always.

There is a famous quote that says an optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in, while a pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. Call me the eternal optimist. 2014 promises great things and the IndyBar staff and Board have an incomparable leader in Jeff Abrams. But just to cover my bases, I’ve given him this golf towel as a token of my admiration. Jeff, not that your clubs ever get dirty, but do me a favor and use the back.

Happy New Year, all!•

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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