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Fund supports diversity in profession

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A celebration of former Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard on Thursday set the stage for the launch of a fund in his name that will continue his legacy of promoting diversity.

Several hundred people attended a gala in Shepard’s honor that also included announcement of the creation of the Randall T. Shepard Fund for Diversity in the Legal Profession, sponsored by the Indiana Bar Foundation.

The fund will further efforts that Shepard championed. Those include diversity initiatives of state and local bar associations and supporting the goals of the Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity and those of the Indiana Supreme Court’s Commission on Race and Gender Fairness.

The ICELO program annually supports an incoming law school class of about 30 fellows with stipends, mentoring and networking opportunities. Shepard urged creation of the program, which was signed into law in 1997 by former Gov. Frank O’Bannon.

Indiana Bar Foundation president Charles Dunlap said a fundraising goal of $150,000 has been established. Former Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby, now a partner with Ice Miller, and Rod Morgan, past president of the Indiana Bar Association, are co-chairing the fundraising drive.

“This fund is an inspiring tribute to someone who has done so much to open the doors to the profession,” said Selby, who served with Shepard on the bench from 1995-2000 and now chairs the Commission on Race and Gender Fairness.

Morgan, a partner at Bingham Greenebaum Doll, said the fund in Shepard’s name was fitting. He said Shepard’s record “shows his commitment to making our legal system better in the state of Indiana.”

Shepard said Thursday that he was humbled by an honor that will further his legacy of promoting diversity.

“To gather with a purpose beyond tribute – that of building our profession’s long-term commitment to equal opportunity – likewise states a powerful message about Indiana lawyers,” he said.

“Indiana’s legal profession needn’t stare down at its shoes and shuffle when people talk about lawyers. Indiana lawyers have earned the right to look our fellow citizens straight on and say, ‘We have done what it lies within us to do,’” Shepard said.

Along with Selby and Morgan, numerous colleagues paid tribute to Shepard on Thursday. Among them: Margaret Marshall, retired chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court; emcees John Tinder, U.S. 7th Circuit judge, and Jan Carroll, partner with Barnes & Thornburg; Vanderburgh Superior Judge Margaret Lloyd; former ICLEO fellow and Madison Circuit Judge Rudy Pyle; and C. Erik Chickedantz, president of the Indiana State Bar Association.

“It is an honor and a privilege to manage this fund, which serves as a fitting tribute to Chief Justice Shepard and his longstanding commitment to furthering diversity in the legal profession,” Dunlap said.

Donations to the fund are tax-deductible and may be made by contacting the Indiana Bar Foundation’s director of development at 317-269-7864. Online donations may be made at www.inbf.org.

 

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  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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