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. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

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  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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