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Family law attorney to receive national award

Rebecca Berfanger
June 2, 2010
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For doing pro bono work and for promoting pro bono work among others in the legal community, an Indianapolis attorney has learned she will receive a national award at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco in August.

A Marion Superior judge, a pro bono plan administrator, and others who have worked with or otherwise witnessed Patty McKinnon’s pro bono efforts nominated her for the Edmund S. Muskie Pro Bono Service Award, which recognizes members of the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section.

Attorney Michael Brown of Kightlinger & Gray in Indianapolis confirmed McKinnon would receive the award. He had asked Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer for a recommendation because of the judge’s work with equal access to justice issues, and the judge suggested McKinnon.

Included with her nomination for the honor to the Law and Public Service Committee of the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section were examples of her work encouraging other attorneys to take on pro bono cases.

For instance, Brown said, the committee was particularly impressed with a family law how-to DVD she helped organize.

In spring 2006, McKinnon approached the Indiana Bar Foundation and Indiana Continuing Legal Education Foundation with the idea to create a family law DVD for attorneys who were unfamiliar with the practice area who still wanted to help.

Filming took place in fall 2006, and the DVDs were distributed to pro bono plan administrators around the state in 2008.

Brown said a California attorney who is also a member of the ABA section expressed an interest in creating a similar DVD for that state’s pro bono efforts.

Plan administrators in Indiana have also expressed how helpful it has been to have the DVD for pro bono attorneys as a reference during family law cases.

McKinnon’s recommendation was one of seven nominations from around the country, and the only one from Indiana. Brown said McKinnon was chosen out of a list that included bar association presidents and others who were involved in their communities’ pro bono efforts by leading legal organizations.

“In the end, the committee wanted to recognize someone who was doing it on her own,” he said. “Patricia’s work in trying to help people who find themselves in a situation where their domestic relationship is deteriorating, but they can’t afford a lawyer to help them, fit the section’s current theme of” equal justice for all, particularly indigent and homeless people, Brown added.

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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