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DeGroote: The new social network - return to the bar

February 15, 2012
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Tim DeGrooteNot so long ago, when I was a “young” lawyer, our local bar association sponsored various outings. I remember them fondly. There was always a summer golf outing and bus trip to Chicago. In the fall and winter months, the bar association would sponsor various events, including the occasional happy hour at a local watering hole. The events were well attended and memorable.

Those events provided the opportunity for me to get to know my fellow lawyers in an enjoyable, casual and non-adversarial setting. Just as important, the events brought lawyers from different practice areas and generations together. Judges, prosecutors, criminal defense counsel, family lawyers and civil litigators all joined forces with a common goal: to have a good time. Stories were told. Accomplishments and defeats were embellished. It was a wonderful time.

When I joined the law firm, I had the privilege to be mentored by several great lawyers. They spent time with me both in and out of the office. They encouraged me to get involved in local and state organizations. They introduced me to other lawyers and took me to seminars, events and to the occasional happy hour where, once again, stories, accomplishments and defeats were shared and embellished.

Times have changed. In the last 15 years, life has become more complicated. Like many, I attempt to juggle and balance my professional and home/family commitments. I have a fabulous wife who works full time as a magistrate. We have two children who are actively involved in school and extracurricular activities. It is a rare evening when something is not scheduled on the work or family calendar.

With more demands on my time, I find myself less involved in the state, local, and firm activities and social events. Apparently, I am not alone.

In the last several years, there has been a steady decline in active participation in local bar association events. I anticipate that other organizations have experienced a similar problem. While I do not have all of the answers to explain the decline, several factors come into play, including the changes in society, the family structure (both parents working) and the increasing demands made by the workplace.

Change is inevitable. The way we communicate and socialize has been redefined. We are now connected 24/7. We have the ability to email, text and update our Facebook pages while we sit in traffic. The phone call has been replaced with the text and/or tweet. The handwritten and (even) dictated letter has been slain by the email. The social gathering at the local bar event has fallen victim to the chat room. There is no need to be physically present because we are connected all the time. Technology has allowed us to become more efficient so that we may accomplish more in less time. Technology has allowed us to save time. And yet, do any of us feel like we have more time?

I truly enjoy the benefits of the advancements made in technology. However, I would propose that we use some of the time saved through the use of technology and re-invest it in our profession and the people with whom we work. Attend a state or local bar association event. Take a young lawyer, fellow associate or partner with you. Get involved in a worthy organization, such as the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana (shameless plug). Put down the mouse, leave work early, and spend time with your partners and associates outside the office. Attend a happy hour or two. Reconnect with your fellow lawyers. Stay involved or get involved and get to know the people you work with or who may be across the table from you in your next case. The time spent is a valuable investment in your practice and our profession.•

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Mr. DeGroote is a partner in the Fort Wayne office of Hunt Suedhoff Kalamaros and is a director of the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
 

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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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