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Chinn: What I'm Thankful For

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iba-chinn-scottWith Thanksgiving meals, family gatherings and football games barely visible in the rear view mirror, I want to get my thoughts of holiday thankfulness in just under the wire. In full disclosure, I’m focused here on three things about which I am most thankful for the Indianapolis Bar Association. While I don’t confuse that with the other important things about which we all can and should reflect on with thanksgiving, I am proud to observe these three things about our bar.

First, and foremost, I am thankful for the membership of more than 5,000 legal professionals in the IndyBar. I promise you everyone in the leadership and staff of the IndyBar has your membership top of mind. Ours is a voluntary bar. Your membership is a registering of your consumer choice that you derive value from the bar. I am confident that it will always be a top priority of the IndyBar leadership to maintain and create new value for your bar membership. It’s also worth noting that even beyond member services, there is value in what unites us to become and stay members of the IndyBar. With 5,000 members strong we are able to garner resources to have active pro bono programs, to reach out to law students and new lawyers to get them on the right track in our profession, and to advocate for the profession to elected officials and the broader community.

Second, I am thankful for the IndyBar staff. Over the past 20 years, the number of IndyBar programs has multiplied and the membership has doubled without a general dues increase. At the same time, in recent years the number of paid staff members has decreased from 13 to nine full-time equivalent employees along with one part-time and one contract employee. In short, what this lean and productive staff accomplishes is amazing – and is admired by executive directors of peer bars around the country. This is a testament in large part to Julie Armstrong’s tremendous leadership.

Last, and by no means least, perhaps the greatest strength of our bar is the large number of legal professionals who volunteer their time, energy and creativity as bar leaders. The Indy Bar has a 29-member board of directors, 18 standing or steering committees, 18 sections and 4 divisions. The sections, divisions and committees have multi-member executive committees that govern their operations. In addition, every year even more people volunteer for discrete efforts on task forces or special projects and on pro bono programs. So, scores of legal professionals contribute to success of the bar.

Just this past week, President-Elect Kerry Hyatt Blomquist presided over a two-day leadership retreat in which all the 2013 section, division and committee chairs and board members gathered to get to know each other and plan operations for the year. It went great, and Kerry and her leadership team are poised to keep what is working, shed what isn’t, and continue to innovate while keeping members foremost in mind. What I am most thankful for is what was observed by the retreat’s facilitator, Elizabeth Derrico from the ABA’s division of bar services. Elizabeth explained to those assembled that by agreeing to becoming leaders of the IndyBar, they had signed up to be the latest in a line of people whose tremendous efforts are recognized by bars all over the nation. I couldn’t agree more. Our bar association is noteworthy for the number and quality of initiatives, its willingness to take calculated risks to stay ahead of the professional curve, and for its number of people in positions of influence in national organizations like the ABA, the National Conference of Bar Presidents, the Conference of Metropolitan Bar Associations and the Metropolitan Bar Caucus.

To go full circle, from my perspective this last list of things isn’t to be looked at like a set of trophies on the mantel, but real live examples of a vibrant bar association that works to sustain itself from the most basic membership service obligations to promoting justice and the profession to serving the community. And at the core of that vibrancy is the breadth of our membership, the diligence of our staff, and the zealousness of our volunteer leaders. For these things I am very thankful.•
 

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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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