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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 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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