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. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  2. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  3. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  4. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

  5. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

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