Best legal city game snubs Indy

March 18, 2010
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Yes, it’s just an entertaining way to put a legal spin on the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament, but I can’t help but be a little surprised and offended that Indianapolis didn’t make the cut in the Above the Law blog’s “best city to practice law” brackets.

When writing this blog post, ATL hadn’t yet broken down the Midwest “matchups” as it had for the South and East, so I’m not sure what they were thinking when they picked other cities over Indianapolis.

Representing the Midwest are Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City/St. Louis, and Cleveland. I get that Chicago would be the No. 1 seed in this bracket – it’s the biggest legal market in the Midwest and it’s a big city. But I don’t know how sold I am on the other three (well, actually four cities) making the list before Indianapolis.

First of all, make up your mind. You can’t put both Kansas City and St. Louis. Those cities are on opposite sides of Missouri. I’d understand Kansas City Mo./Kansas City, Kan., but there are hundreds of miles between Kansas City and St. Louis. If they are so similar, just pick one.

Secondly, Indianapolis has a lot going for it. Affordability, a good quality of life, and it’s a sports mecca. Indy got so much going for it, the NCAA relocated here from Kansas more than 10 years ago.

Phil Isenbarger, partner at Bingham McHale in Indianapolis, says it’s the same things that made Indianapolis attractive to the NCAA headquarters that make it attractive to attorneys. It’s got good restaurants, many events happening, tons of sports – amateur and professional, it’s easy to get around downtown, and people are just friendly here.

In fact, our Hoosier hospitality spills over into the legal community and is one of the reasons practicing in Indy is great. Isenbarger has worked with attorneys from outside of Indiana, and all have consistently said our lawyers are friendly.

“Never in 26 years of practicing has anyone said anything other than that when visiting,” he said.

While that’s a quality many Midwesterners have, Isenbarger said Indianapolis is more friendly than some of the other cities listed in ATL’s Midwest bracket.

“The great thing about Indianapolis is the lawyers here understand that you can advocate for your client without being a jerk to the lawyer on the other side,” he said.

The civility Indianapolis attorneys display is in part thanks to the efforts of the Indianapolis Bar Association in making sure new lawyers understand that is an important quality, he said.

Isenbarger, whom I should mention is an NCAA Champion from the 1981 Indiana University basketball team, also pointed out that Chicago may be bigger but it doesn’t mean their legal issues are bigger or better than the ones Indianapolis attorneys deal with. They just have more of them because of the number of people living there. Being bigger doesn’t improve the quality of practice, Isenbarger said.

Finally, if Indianapolis isn’t a best place to practice, then why do so many firms from outside of the state want to merge with firms here? In the last year or so, three Indy firms have merged with firms from Ohio. There have also been rumors of other out-of-state firms trying to merge with Indianapolis firms. They see the potential to set up shop here, the quality of lawyers, and value of the established legal practices Indy firms have to offer.

Other states value Indianapolis, why don’t you ATL?
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  1. 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.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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