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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. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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