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DTCI: Kyrouac looking forward to 2011

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DTCI-Kyrouac-scottI am truly honored and humbled to be the 44th president of DTCI. When I look back on all the time I have spent with DTCI, I can honestly say it was well worth it. I look forward to another year of fulfilling and worthwhile effort in partnership with the DTCI board of directors.

Goals for 2011

It is no secret that defense lawyers are some of the nicest folks around, at least outside the legal arena. The real secret that I want to share with my fellow DTCI members is that plaintiffs’ attorneys also fit this description. This altruism leads me to my first goal for the coming year: promoting civility.

A wise letter to a local newspaper editor recently said, “Criticizing others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves.” This should serve as a principle in our quest to promote civility. There is no reason to be negative about a legal opponent, judge, or even a member of your own firm. Muhammad Ali will never be canonized as a saint, but he did demonstrate that one does not have to tear an opponent down after a victory to make himself look better. Ali was usually very complimentary after the fight about his defeated opponent. May I suggest that lawyers hold their tongues and think twice before criticizing a fellow member of the bar? Motions to compel and motions for sanctions should be filed only as the last resort. Rather than write the nasty letter or e-mail, will you consider picking up the phone and engaging in civil conversation? On a similar note, as an organization I sincerely hope we will continue to refrain from supporting any legislation that is “anti lawyer” or “anti jury.” Our system of justice has been in effect for well over 200 years, and it has worked well. The right to settle disputes by jury should be available to all and should remain an integral part of our freedom.

A second goal for 2011 is to continue the growth and development of all of our sections. This is especially true with regard to the paralegal section. Paralegals have the potential to make law firms more cost efficient. Too often they are an afterthought in the defense practice. It is essential that they be allowed to continue their development in our organization.

A third goal is to be more responsive to the needs of our sponsors. Vendor booths at seminars should be in areas that are easily accessible to attendees. At the 2011 annual meeting, I recommend that we consider giving a few engineering experts and vocational experts an opportunity to make some short mutually beneficial presentations so that lawyers truly understand how such services can benefit their clients. Sponsors help keep membership fees down and play a crucial role in the continuing education process. Recognition of our sponsors remains an integral task of our organization.

A fourth goal is for 2011 is to continue to provide members value in their membership. The website, although much improved, has the potential to do more. The Indiana Civil Litigation Review, which is available on the DTCI website, should be made searchable so that its articles may be located and cited more easily. Similarly, accessible brief banks could provide value to our members. As one plaintiffs’ attorney said after attending last year’s annual meeting, which discussed Stanley v. Walker, “your seminar content was great and the presenters even better.” Let’s hope in 2011, all members and nonmembers attend, enjoy, and benefit from DTCI’s fantastic seminars.

Advice from the bench

In closing, let me tell you what an honor it was to attend Justice Steven David’s robing ceremony. Justice David provided words of inspiration appropriate for the entire bar: “I believe in humility, respect, fairness, and the rule of law.” He concluded with 12 words of advice that are applicable for us all: “Work hard, do good, be proud, have fun, and do what’s right.”

With these words as our guide, 2011 shall be a great year for DTCI.
__________

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the many DTCI volunteers who did so much for the association in 2010. Our space is very limited, so a mere listing must suffice.

First and foremost, I want to thank my immediate predecessor in the presidency, Mary Reeder, for her excellent leadership and devotion to our organization. While she received a handsome plaque, such tokens of appreciation will never be enough to thank Mary for her guidance.

Indiana Lawyer authors: Bryce Bennett, Michele Bryant, James Boyers, B.J. Brinkerhoff, Jeffrey Crabill, Sonia Das, Vanessa Davis, Audra Ferguson-Allen, Keith Hays, James Hehner, Takeia Johnson, Belinda Johnson-Hurtado, Matthew King, Heidi Koeneman, Jason Massaro, Libby Valos Moss, Edward Murphy, David Temple, Matthew Trainor, John Twohy, Kevin Tyra, Amy Wilson, Lewis Wooton.

Indiana Civil Litigation Review authors: Geoffrey Blazi, Patricia Erdmann, Matthew Bruno, Christopher Cross, Melanie Margolin, Lucy Dollens, Valerie Hughs, Thomas Jarzyniecki, Belinda Johnson-Hurtado, Joseph Langerak, Nicholas Levi, Ted Nolting, Scott Preston, Kevin Rasp, Casey Stafford.

Annual Meeting speakers: Michele Bryant, Michele Calderon-Johns, Vanessa Davis, Donna Fisher, Keith Hays, Tom Hays, Blaire Henley, Jerry Huelat, Barb Jones, Trent Klingerman, Chris Lee, David Mallon, Anthony Overholt, William Padgett, Robert Parker, Ginny Peterson, Casey Stafford, Jim Strenski, Kevin Tyra, Christopher Wahl.
__________

Scott Kyrouac is a partner at the Terre Haute firm of Wilkinson Goeller Modesitt Wilkinson, practicing in the areas of insurance defense, medical malpractice defense, product liability, trucking and transportation law, personal injury, environmental law, employment law, and municipal law. He currently serves as president of DTCI.

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