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Counsel reenergizes section

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In-House Counsel

Even though the Corporate Counsel Section of the Indiana State Bar Association can boast a membership of 431 statewide, it was a relatively inactive group until the immediate past chair took over in 2009.

Prior to that, there had been some activity on a members-only listserv, including information about relevant continuing legal education opportunities from ISBA staff liaison Maryann Williams, and conversations about issues specific to general counsels. However, Williams credited the section’s leadership in recent years with working hard to get more recognition and to offer more opportunities for its membership to become engaged in ISBA efforts.

The immediate past chair of the section, Stephen Landrum Due, is one member of the leadership team who made a push to make the section more active.
 

due-stephen Stephen Due, assistant general counsel at American United Life Insurance, helped reenergize the ISBA Corporate Counsel Section. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Due is an assistant general counsel in the nine-member legal department of American United Life Insurance Company, a OneAmerica company in Indianapolis. He joined the ISBA Corporate Counsel Section when he joined AUL in 2007. Due began his legal career as a member of Bingham McHale’s labor and employment practice group after passing the bar in 2002.

He became chair of the Corporate Counsel Section in 2009. He served until the ISBA 2010 Annual Meeting in mid-October, when he was succeeded by Deborah Edwards of Heritage Environmental Services in Indianapolis.

Due didn’t blame past leadership – or anyone for that matter – for the section’s previous inactivity. Instead, he said it was likely due to the nature of an in-house counsel’s job and how little time this group of lawyers has for involvement in professional organizations compared to attorneys in private practice.

“When I come into the office, I might have a ‘to do’ list of three things. By 9 a.m., I realize there are other things I need to take care of instead,” he said. “Our days are never our own.”

That is not a negative aspect of the job, Due added. The reality is that an in-house counsel is an integral part of the company, he continued, unlike an attorney at a firm who might have more flexibility and independence when it comes to working directly with clients.

Another reason the membership may have been less active in previous years, he said, could be that corporate counsel attorneys don’t tend to be as concerned as their counterparts at law firms when it comes to networking and business development. Therefore, being active in the ISBA may be less of a priority.

Business development may not be viewed as vital by corporate counsel, the way it often is for private practice lawyers, because each corporate counsel answers only to one client. If in-house lawyers plan to stay with their companies for a long time, which many tend to want to do, the perceived value of networking drops.

However, Due said he hopes in-house lawyers see the bigger picture and understand the benefits of networking with other attorneys – both in-house counsel and private attorneys. For some, it might mean a new relationship that could lead to the identification of new outside counsel for work not handled in house. For others, it may be a peer to talk to who works for a similar type of company and might deal with similar issues.

He added that when an in-house lawyer works in a small legal department or is the only in-house attorney for a company, there might be even more of a need to meet with other general counsel to get their perspective on issues faced.

Personally, Due has been able to make new friends through his involvement in the section. He has met many attorneys he might not otherwise have met.

To encourage more corporate counsel to take advantage of networking opportunities, listserv members were sent survey questions. Due wanted to know if the members wanted CLE opportunities, social events, to receive resources from the section that could help their practices, or if there was something else the section members would want.

He also asked for volunteers to join the organization’s leadership to ensure the group’s sustainability.

Of the fewer than a dozen responses the ISBA received, Due was encouraged that some shared an interest in leadership positions. Several of those responding were named to the section’s council. Due added that in the spirit of ISBA past president Roderick Morgan’s diversity initiative, he sought a diverse group of attorneys for the council.

Due and other council members have since started working on different opportunities. Those included a CLE at the ISBA annual meeting, “Best Practices for Drafting Arbitration Clauses,” which was co-sponsored by the Corporate Counsel, ADR, and Business Law sections.

For now, Due said co-sponsoring CLEs will likely make the most sense for the Corporate Counsel Section because finding a CLE that is helpful to generalists, as many in-house attorneys are, can be difficult. While some in-house attorneys have specialties specific to the type of company they serve, the type of CLE that would benefit them is likely too specific and would not appeal to a broad enough audience.

Due added that for his area of practice, which includes reinsurance and retirement services, he will often travel out of state for CLE.

Section leaders are also working with ISBA staff to look at the group’s budget and where its dues can be most effectively used. As a relatively inactive section with a relatively large membership, the budget was financially sound when he took over, Due said.

The section helped sponsor the We the People program earlier this year as well as a table at an event hosted by the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute, a non-partisan organization that studies policies on taxes and government spending.

He said the section also helped the Indiana Attorney General’s Office get the word out to members of the section about an unclaimed property amnesty program for companies that had not reported unclaimed pay checks within the specified amount of time.

Going forward, Due said he hopes more members will want to get involved in leadership or other aspects of the section.

Edwards said because she didn’t plan to become chair this year – when she was vice chair, the previous chair elect left a job as corporate counsel to go into private practice – she couldn’t yet discuss specific future events. She planned to meet with Williams in late 2010 to discuss the possibilities.

Edwards said she would like for the section to continue to offer ways for members to be more active, something she said could be especially beneficial for in-house counsel like her.

“I’m not surrounded by lawyers all day long,” she said, describing her situation as a legal department of one. “I think this is a great opportunity to bring together people who are in similar situations. … I want to do something to keep the revitalization going. Maybe we can do CLE or more networking.”

Edwards said interested lawyers could contact her directly at debi.edwards@heritage-enviro.com or (317) 486-2892•

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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