Chinn: Opportunities To Serve In 2012

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iba-chinn-scottGreetings colleagues of the bar and other interested readers. This is my first president’s message of the year and I want to take the opportunity to congratulate all the persons elected and appointed to leadership positions in the Indianapolis Bar Association for 2012. We fully realize we won only an opportunity to serve. Section, division, and committee chairs are in place and are already moving their groups forward. The new IBA board was formally sworn in on January 12, but by then had already met and picked up the baton on a number of substantive issues from last year’s board.

As challenges for non-profit member organizations continue to mount, that continuity of leadership has marked the IBA’s many successes in membership growth, programming, and civic impact. I could not be more conscious of the good and important work that has preceded my becoming president. The 2012 IBA board and its officers have inherited a well functioning and special organization – an association that we are proud to hear frequently mentioned as one of the leading bars in the country when we travel to ABA meetings and other national gatherings.

A special word here is deserved for IBA Executive Director Julie Armstrong and her great staff. It is hard to imagine such a lean staff could be so strong, productive and committed to the association membership and its goals.

So, as we begin 2012, let’s pay heed to the formula that has produced these good results. The first ingredient is to strive always to keep in place what works and what is necessary, eschewing change made for the sake of change. At the same time, we should never shrink from bold action where we can make a difference in an important matter or be ahead of the curve for the benefit of our profession. It is that artful blend of solidity and opportunistic progressivism that makes up the “sweet spot” the IBA has been hitting on for such a long time.

With that background in mind, let me respectfully ask you to think about three ways you can help the work of the IBA and the profession.

Be involved. Every bar president says this every year, but that’s because it’s important. The IBA needs your help, your interest, and your talent. The great news is, the IBA doesn’t lack for strong leaders who are willing to give their time in support of its aims.

But the only way we continue to progress, to avoid associational atrophy, and to promote the profession appropriately is to seek and enjoy the time and resource commitments of our members. When you see a substantive section, a program, or an issue that the IBA is involved in – or you think should be – contact me, Julie or any bar leader you know to get more involved.

Be sensitive. We practice law in a world that needs our help more than ever. The recent economic downturn has exacerbated the problem of finding legal representation for people of few means. You’ll hear much more this year about how the IBA is actively addressing the growing need for such services. Our immediate past president Mike Hebenstreit has kindly agreed to head a special committee dedicated to pro bono and indigent legal assistance.

And we don’t have to look far for opportunities to help in other ways. So many of our colleagues, especially our youngest members of the profession, are struggling to find jobs and meaningful legal work. Do what you can to help by including these new lawyers in your networks, give them advice and guidance, and think creatively about how you can be a mentor and assist them in their job searches.

Be yourself. The best way you can serve the IBA and the profession is to be yourself. Just go be the best lawyer you can be. Serve your clients, serve the judiciary and legal system, and serve your networks of civic and social contacts.

I wanted to be involved in IBA leadership because I like and believe in lawyers. My mother (who later became a second career lawyer) told me when I was young that the most important thing lawyers do is solve problems for people. Not a day goes by that I don’t have an opportunity to help solve someone’s problem – however big or small – using my training, experience, and judgment. That’s what we are supposed to do.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve. Best wishes for a great 2012.•


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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.