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Chickedantz assumes new role as ISBA president

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In a 45-minute conversation with C. Erik Chickedantz, the accomplished lawyer and Vietnam veteran never boasted about his own accomplishments, although the many awards in his office are a testament to his service to Indiana’s legal profession.

Chickedantz, the new president of the Indiana State Bar Association, explained that years ago, Fort Wayne attorney Tom Yoder – who was bar president at the time – asked him to serve on the association’s board of governors as secretary. He’s been part of ISBA’s leadership ever since then, taking on increasingly more responsibility in the last decade.

chickedantz-15col.jpg C. Erik Chickedantz, new Indiana State Bar Association president, poses for a photo with his wife, Anita, in front of the Allen County Courthouse. (IL Photo/ Vincent Morretino)

“I can remember when Tom Yoder called me from Indianapolis and said, ‘Hey, Ace, we’ve nominated you to be the vice president,’” Chickedantz said. “My response to him was, you need to get somebody younger; I’m too old for that job. I’m 70 years old now – and I was 68 or 69 then – and I said you need to get some younger person with more energy. And he said, ‘I hate to tell you, this is a job you can’t say no to.’ So, anyway, I said, all right, let’s go with it.”

Going with it

Chickedantz, a partner with Hawk Haynie Kammeyer & Chickedantz, has been a member of the ISBA and Allen County Bar Association since 1972. He served as the ACBA president from 1994 to 1995, so he understands that at the local and state level, certain factors are necessary for the organization to thrive.

“The success of any bar association – the Allen County bar, or the state bar – is to provide value, so that people who are thinking about being a member, want to be a member. I’ve got to pay $280 a year – what do I get for this?”

Chickedantz said that in the next year, he thinks the bar will help more people understand the value of that membership. He cites Casemaker – an online legal research service provided free to ISBA members – as one of the most obvious benefits of membership.

“Lawyers anymore don’t go to the law library and pull out a law book and fiddle around like I used to do,” he said. He thinks law students and young lawyers, especially, could benefit from having free access to Casemaker as members of the bar.

“Law students can be members of the state bar – we give them a great deal. We’re looking to increase what I think is a fairly low participation to high participation. And … if I was going to be a solo practitioner and I was thinking about legal research, and I knew that as a member of the state bar association I could get this Casemaker benefit free – that’s a no-brainer,” he said.

Chickedantz said that while Indiana’s bar already has a participation rate of about 80 percent, he thinks that it could be higher. Looking to boost participation among law students and young lawyers is especially important to the longevity of the organization, he explained.

“We have a Young Lawyers Section, which is the largest section we have. If your young lawyers section is not a vibrant, active, energetic section, that does not bode well for the association,” he said. “We have really a terrific bunch of young lawyers, and law students are the farm system for the Young Lawyers Section. The Young Lawyers Section is the lifeblood of our association. We’re going to continue to focus on young people and try to convince them that an Indiana lawyer cannot afford not to be a member of the state bar association.”

Personal goals, personal life

One of Chickedantz’s big pushes is the bar’s new wellness committee (see related story on page 1).

“I’m not the prime example of wellness, but I believe in it,” he said. “Never smoked, and back in high school and college days, I was captain of the cross country team. At West Point, I ran all four years, ran track. And in the service, the airborne units, they’re big time into gung-ho exercise, so I did a lot of running there.”

Chickedantz graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1963 and then served in the Army for six years.

chickedantz-table.gif“I started out at infantry school, then airborne school, then ranger school, and then my first duty assignment was with the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell (Ky.), and I was there for 18 months or so, and then got my first orders to Vietnam.” After receiving his orders, Chickedantz went through additional training at Fort Bragg (N.C.), and then went to language school in Monterey, Calif., where he studied basic Vietnamese. His first tour of duty began in 1966.

“I was an adviser with the Vietnamese Airborne Division – that’s their paratrooper division – and that was just a wonderful duty assignment, as a first lieutenant, and then as a captain. And then I came back home and went to Fort Benning (Ga.) for a while, and then up to Fort Bragg, with the 82nd Airborne Division, then back to Vietnam for a second tour.”

After returning from his second tour, Chickedantz knew he wanted to get out of the service, but he wasn’t sure what to do next. His inspiration came from a friend and fellow soldier.

“One of my best friends from West Point was a guy named Bob Mayer – we ran cross-country and track together, and during our first tour in Vietnam we were in locations where we could spend some time together. He came back and went through the JAG program and went to law school in the service, and then was an Army lawyer. He got out of the service, one thing led to another, and he is now a judge sitting on the Circuit Court for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.

“When Bob was in law school and I was talking to him on the phone saying I’m thinking about getting out of the service, he said, ‘Well, you might wanna think about going to law school. You don’t have to be a lawyer, but you can use a law degree for all sorts of things.’”

Chickedantz enrolled in The University of Michigan Law School and graduated in 1971.

He and his wife Anita knew they wanted to stay in the Midwest. They had both grown up in Washington, Ind., where their romance began when Anita was in 7th grade and Chickedantz was a freshman. The couple had friends in Fort Wayne, so they decided to settle there and raise their family – two sons and two daughters.

Looking back, and forward

Beneath the broad windows overlooking the Allen County Courthouse, a ledge in Chickedantz’s office is a showcase for his many family photos. He has worked hard to get to where he is today, but not at the expense of his family – a simple principle that young lawyers should remember, he said.

“Particularly, if you have a family, you’ve got to look at other things in life. Have hobbies – working is not the key to success,” he said. “There are other things in life than simply trying to break your neck working. That’s not to say that working hard isn’t a good thing – it is – but you just can’t be working hard all the time.”

Chickedantz said he considers himself fortunate to be part of the ISBA, which has one of the largest participating memberships in the Midwest.

“And that’s not because of me, that’s because of our past board of governors, our past presidents,” he said.

Jeffry Lind, immediate past president of the ISBA, commented on why he thinks the ISBA will continue to thrive under Chickedantz’s leadership.

“Erik’s years of litigation and mediation experience combined with his vision of building the strength of leadership within the ISBA spells nothing but great things for the Indiana State Bar Association,” Lind said. “He is quiet, yet affable. A listener, yet a leader.  An honest critic, yet a good friend.”•

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  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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