Firm, IBA support pro bono mediation day

August 3, 2010
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This post was submitted by IL reporter Rebecca Berfanger.

After covering the pro bono efforts of Indiana attorneys for almost four years now, there seem to be a number of annual events and common occurrences. While all of these efforts are worth covering and important to share with the rest of the legal community, sometimes something different will come to my attention.

A couple weeks ago as I was about to head out the door, I received a call that there would be pro bono mediations for paternity cases at the downtown office of Baker & Daniels that would take place today. I was asked if I would be interested in covering it for the paper. Intrigued, I went over this morning after I received a call that a few of the mediations had wrapped up. I was able to talk to some of the mediators about their experiences, which will be reported more in depth for the Aug. 18 edition of the paper.

Part of what intrigued me about the call I received two weeks ago from Brita Horvath, the pro bono and diversity coordinator for the firm, was that she said she wasn’t necessarily interested in getting the firm’s name out for doing this, but to show other firms how easy it would be for them to pull off a similar event.

The main reason her firm hosted this event was the Indianapolis Bar Association’s ADR Committee, including Elisabeth Edwards, the committee’s incoming chair, who contacted Horvath about involving the firm because she and another attorney at the firm, Andrew Campbell, are co-chairs of the IBA’s Pro Bono Committee.

But that’s no reason other firms can’t step up, Horvath and today’s participants told me. All a firm would need to do is provide the conference rooms – more than enough mediators volunteered, and judges and commissioners could always use the help in lightening their caseloads. Baker & Daniels had six conference rooms available to the mediators today, including one for the judge pro tem to use where the others could discuss their cases at the end of the process, and a smaller room for caucuses or the occasional phone call to an attorney who opted to stay out of the mediation. The firm also provided support staff as needed.

And while the mediators did invoice the Family Court Project of the Marion Superior Court for their time, as the court encourages mediators to do when working with clients who are indigent or of modest means, they donated the money they would have earned through that program to the Indianapolis Bar Foundation.

Have you heard of a similar event in your community? Are there any interesting pro bono efforts going on with your bar association that you’d like the rest of the legal community to know about? Please comment here, or e-mail me, rberfanger@ibj.com.

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  1. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  2. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  3. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

  4. Been on social security sense sept 2011 2massive strokes open heart surgery and serious ovarian cancer and a blood clot in my lung all in 14 months. Got a letter in may saying that i didn't qualify and it was in form like i just applied ,called social security she said it don't make sense and you are still geting a check in june and i did ,now i get a check from my part D asking for payment for july because there will be no money for my membership, call my prescription coverage part D and confirmed no check will be there.went to social security they didn't want to answer whats going on just said i should of never been on it .no one knows where this letter came from was California im in virginia and been here sense my strokes and vcu filed for my disability i was in the hospital when they did it .It's like it was a error . My ,mothers social security was being handled in that office in California my sister was dealing with it and it had my social security number because she died last year and this letter came out of the same office and it came at the same time i got the letter for my mother benefits for death and they had the same date of being typed just one was on the mail Saturday and one on Monday. . I think it's a mistake and it should been fixed instead there just getting rid of me .i never got a formal letter saying when i was being tsken off.

  5. Employers should not have racially discriminating mind set. It has huge impact on the society what the big players do or don't do in the industry. Background check is conducted just to verify whether information provided by the prospective employee is correct or not. It doesn't have any direct combination with the rejection of the employees. If there is rejection, there should be something effective and full-proof things on the table that may keep the company or the people associated with it in jeopardy.

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