Dinner recognizes challenges of economy, praises efforts of community

October 18, 2010
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IL reporter Rebecca Berfanger wrote this blog post.

The 2010 Randall T. Shepard Award Dinner, an annual event to recognize pro bono efforts of the Indiana bar, went off without a hitch on Oct. 15. If anything, it was probably one of the most efficient awards events I’ve been to, but that didn’t make it any less emotional for those in attendance.

Justice Brent E. Dickson started the awards presentation by discussing the importance of pro bono to the legal community. He said the way the districts approach these cases is “exceptional” and said the Indiana Pro Bono Commission had “kept pace with the times,” including innovative ways of handling issues that weren’t as big of a deal when the commission started, such as mortgage foreclosures.

“Kudos to you all for accomplishing what many would think is impossible,” he said, referring to the low interest rates that have led to low amounts of funds from Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts. On Friday, it was also announced to the pro bono district plan administrators that the Indiana Bar Foundation would allocate $427,000 from IOLTA revenues, in addition to $175,000 from the reserve fund – and a possible allocation of some or all of the additional $100,000 Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum gave to the IBF on Friday. Even if all $100,000 went to the pro bono districts, that would still leave a shortfall of $75,000.

To compare to past years: IOLTA income as of mid-2008 – part of which was distributed for use for 2009 budgets – was $3 million; the IOLTA income as of mid-2009, part of which was distributed for use for 2010 budgets, was $1.5 million; and the revenue as of the end of June 2010 was $670,000 – part of which will be distributed for use for 2011 budgets.

But even with smaller budgets, the districts still need to achieve the goals they had a few years ago, “with your hands and feet tied behind your back,” Justice Dickson said.

He also applauded the IBF’s Justice Richard M. Givan Loan Repayment Assistance Program for attorneys in public interest positions, as well as a matching gift program for donations given to the LRAP fund before Nov. 1, 2011, giving attorneys a year to contribute.

He ended his section of the evening by reciting part of the oath all new attorneys take: “I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless, the oppressed or those who cannot afford adequate legal assistance; so help me God.”

IBF president and Muncie attorney Bob Beasley then spoke about the importance of pro bono, including how he hoped “in the not too distant future that this or other events that celebrate pro bono will attract the largest crowds” of any other event in the legal community.

He added that when attorneys retired and look back at their careers, it will likely be the pro bono cases they took on that they’ll be the most proud of, and what they enjoyed most. Like Justice Dickson, Beasley also explained the importance of the IBF’s LRAP efforts for attorneys who want to do public interest law.

He then recognized Carmel attorney Wendy Clar, who had represented 10 family law cases in 2009, and already nine cases in 2010, through the Heartland Pro Bono District (District 8); Jean Blanton and Jennifer Elston of Evansville, who’ve been working on appeals pro bono for family law cases through District 13 in southwestern Indiana; Baker & Daniels and Wishard Health Services, both in Indianapolis, for their Medical-Legal Partnership; the Indiana Supreme Court’s Courts in the Classroom project about Indiana suffragette Helen M. Gougar; and Baker & Daniels and Eli Lilly and Company’s Street Law Corporate Legal Diversity Pipeline Program.

Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Melissa May then recognized Ralph S. Adams of Fort Wayne with the Randall T. Shepard Award. Adams was at Legal Services of Maumee Valley until 2008, and continues to work with the Volunteer Lawyer Program of Northeast Indiana, Inc. (District 3). In his first year of retirement, he donated nearly 400 hours to help 144 clients. He has also started a hotline on a dedicated cell phone, so if he gets a call, he can respond quickly.

After the awards, most people were ready to head home, but I was able to speak with a few of my regular sources about what they’ve been up to and what I will hopefully be able to soon share with readers about new and ongoing pro bono efforts in Indiana.
 

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  1. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  2. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  3. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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