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Chinn: Special Relationships

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iba-chinn-scottA 2010 film called “The Special Relationship” depicts British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s important relationship with President Bill Clinton. The film traces the interactions between the leaders in the 1990s both in the contexts of the prosperity and the political tumult of those times. Originally, the movie’s screenplay was to deal with Blair’s relationship with both President Clinton and President George W. Bush. In the end, the director found the Blair-Clinton relationship too interesting not to receive the exclusive focus of the film and left the Bush story on the cutting room floor.

A special relationship exists between the Indianapolis Bar Foundation and the Indianapolis Bar Association. It is easy to think of the IBF as the “fund raising arm” of the IndyBar. And that isn’t wrong. Many metropolitan bar associations around the county have the support of separate bar foundations dedicated to raising money for bar programs. Indeed, so integrated are the layers of bar association management, operations and financing that the semi-annual and annual meetings of the National Association of Bar Executives, National Conference of Bar Presidents, and National Association of Bar Foundations are held jointly.

For the IBF’s part, its board – which is separate from the IndyBar’s board – establishes fundraising goals to maintain and grow a corpus of funds, the investment earnings from which are used to support the IndyBar. As just one example of the IBF’s efforts, on September 28, it held its annual “Evening Under the Stars” event which nets funds for the foundation from dinner tickets, sponsorships and proceeds from live and silent auctions. The event, held at the stately Scottish Rite Cathedral this year, was again a success to the credit of IBF President Kelly Scanlan, the event chair Erin Clancy and the many other volunteers and staff who helped put the dinner together.

But in focusing only on the IBF’s structural and financial relationship with the IndyBar, something important is missed that shouldn’t be left “on the cutting room floor,” if you will. And that is the impact of the IBF’s fundraising on real people in our community. Here are a couple of examples of how the IBF funding to the McKinney School’s Health and Human Rights Clinic – through your contributions – makes a difference in our community.

“A single mother on the near west side of Indianapolis was struggling with many repairs that needed to be made to her rental unit. She made repeated requests of her landlord, who refused to make repairs. She sought help from the Health Department, and in retaliation, her landlord began eviction proceedings. An attorney who received pro bono training from the Health and Human Rights Clinic now represents the mother and is working to keep her in her home and to obtain necessary repairs for the health and safety of the mother and her children.”

“A disabled and illiterate Indianapolis resident encountered difficulty making his mortgage payments, and found himself in danger of becoming homeless when the lender initiated foreclosure proceedings. An attorney who received pro bono training from the Health and Human Rights Clinic got involved, and secured a mortgage modification for the gentleman, who can now remain in his home.”

These are just two concrete examples of the good things accomplished through the work of the IBF. And they happen because lawyers generously make donations to the IBF. At the September 28 “Evening Under the Stars” dinner, I bid on several items but was unsuccessful (I even bid up Kelly Scanlan on an item during the live auction! Sorry Kelly). So, I will be making an additional contribution this month given that I had budgeted to spend on the auction.

I hope you too will consider making a contribution (or an additional one for those who’ve already given) to the IBF before year end. I am confident it will foster the continuation of the special relationships the IBF has with the IndyBar – and most importantly, with the Indianapolis community.

Want to support the IBF? Online donations can be made at www.indybar.org/about/bar-foundation-donation.•

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