ILNews

George Rubin's 54 years in law built firm and shaped modern Indianapolis

Dave Stafford
December 18, 2013
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indianapolis was America’s 26th biggest city when George Rubin began his legal career 54 years ago. It’s fair to say Rubin drafted the blueprint that transformed the city into the nation’s 12th largest.

Likewise, the founder of Rubin & Levin P.C. has influenced the growth and development of generations of attorneys.

rubinlevin01-15col.jpg George Rubin co-founded Rubin & Levin P.C. in 1977 with founding partner Elliott Levin. (IL Photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

As he prepares to retire at the end of the year from a career spanning seven decades, Rubin, 81, can look back on professional accomplishments that place him a few notches above “mover and shaker.”

A state senator from 1969 to 1973, Rubin sponsored the Unigov legislation that created the consolidated city-county government structure for Indianapolis. He said he never imagined at the time that Indianapolis would grow as it has, but he’s not one to take credit.

“Without the right help, this would never have gone through. Dick Lugar was extremely helpful in pushing this through,” he said of the city’s then-mayor. The leadership of Lugar and subsequent mayors William Hudnut and Stephen Goldsmith, “that’s what made the city what it is today,” Rubin said.

Before Rubin left the Statehouse, he also put his stamp on another landmark law by creating the Indiana Uniform Consumer Credit Code. He soon returned to practice, and colleagues say his tireless work ethic and professionalism built a fine reputation for Rubin & Levin P.C.

A wry wit helped, too.

“George’s attention to detail was a learning experience for me,” partner John Hoard recalled of coming to the firm more than 20 years ago, already 12 years into his career.

“What he’s trying to say is, I was a nitpicker,” Rubin quipped, soliciting a quick round of laughs from partners who’ve been with him longest. They talked this month about his influence, which co-founder Elliot Levin said is evidenced by the firm’s national reputation in such representations as commercial collections, creditors’ rights, transactions and corporate bankruptcy.

Levin recalled Rubin carrying home a suitcase full of work after busy days at the office. “He did this because he wanted to know what was going on in each case,” Levin said.

‘Like family’

Christine Hayes Hickey has been Rubin & Levin’s managing partner for about a year, and she said Rubin has been a guide since before she entered the profession. She arrived at the firm straight out of college 25 years ago, then a paralegal studying for her J.D.

Few law school grads today will have such a mentor, she said. Rubin always was willing to help, from drafting letters to talking over the particulars of cases and strategies for negotiating, she said. “Sometimes they were small lessons, but they were life lessons.”

The firm has grown to its present staff of 21 lawyers guided by Rubin’s principles. “A firm this size, we all know and trust each other,” Hickey said. “It’s a little bit like family.”

That’s what an alumna of the firm also says. When partners Rubin and Levin left the old Bamberger & Feibleman firm in 1977 to hang their own shingle, their trusted paralegal Debbie Davis followed. She, too, began law school the next year.

rubinlevin03-15col.jpg Rubin & Levin managing partner Christine Hayes Hickey said Rubin’s example created a family-like atmosphere at the firm. (IL Photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

“I had them hire this wonderful lawyer from Bamberger & Feibleman who ended up being my husband,” she said, laughing at the recollection. That lawyer was Neil Shook, who worked at the firm until the early 2000s, when the effects of a terminal illness, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, made it impossible to continue.

Davis – now Debbie Shook – remembered the support she received from Rubin and the firm when she took leave to care for Neil, who died in 2003. “They were wonderful, and they loved Neil,” she said. “We were kind of like family. George was like family.”

The firm welcomed Shook back on her schedule after her husband’s passing, and she stayed there until she took a position she still holds as a magistrate in the Marion Superior courts.

Talking about her friend and mentor, Shook recalled Rubin’s encouragement when she pursued law school. It didn’t matter that the law firm was just getting started and it was only Rubin, Levin and her.

“He knew I wanted to do it,” Shook said. “He actually paid a semester of my tuition. … He does have a heart of gold.

“I care very much for George and his wife, Jan, and I have the utmost respect for him. He was my mentor.”

Hoard said he was struck by Rubin’s and Levin’s commitment to family first. The partners strive to accommodate the family life of employees with flexible scheduling, for instance. “That resonates deeply with me,” he said.

Moving to Mass Ave.

When Rubin & Levin moved to its present location in the Marrott Center in 1985, Massachusetts Avenue in Indianapolis wasn’t the hotspot it has become. Rubin concedes it was a little dangerous. Levin remembers having gone to the same building years earlier for his Army induction physical.

But the partners saw something in the location and were able to purchase the five-story building from then-Judge Andy Jacobs Sr., Rubin recalled, well before the first trendy nightclub opened on the downtown strip.

But moving in wasn’t a cinch. The building had to be gutted, and the ground floor housed a retailer called Kelley’s Bargain Store, whose owner “had been there so many years he thought it was his,” Rubin said. But in time, the building was renovated, one of the first redevelopments on the avenue.

Just as the firm was ahead of the curve on selecting a Mass Ave. location, Hoard said the partners also were early adopters of technology. But there were some technological concessions Rubin wasn’t willing to make.

“In this firm, we don’t screen our calls,” Levin said. That’s in keeping with Rubin’s willingness to talk to anyone who dials, and an insistence that lawyers know the details of their clients’ cases well enough to be able to talk with them whenever they call.

Lawyers who trained under Rubin say he set the bar high. Christopher Baker, now a member at Tucker Hester Baker Krebs LLC, worked at Rubin & Levin from 1982 to 2004.

rubinlevin05-15col.jpg Rubin & Levin co-founder Elliott Levin said Rubin fought for principles he believed in, even when it put him at odds with political allies. (IL Photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

“I watched them grow for a number of years and develop a very good and successful creditors’ rights practice,” Baker said. “That in large part is due to George’s leadership and the way that he thought the practice of law should be accomplished – do it right, put out a good product and zealously represent your client.”

Baker said younger attorneys may not realize Rubin’s influence not just on the profession, but as a drafter of the Uniform Consumer Credit Code. “Seeing George leave the practice of law will clearly make the creditors’ rights bar a little different now. … I think the practice is better in Indianapolis because George was part of it and George helped develop it.”

Levin noted that Rubin also took the forefront even on some difficult issues. He noted, for instance, that Rubin opposed 1970s state laws criminalizing education about abortion rights, a stance that put him at odds with some of his fellow Republicans.

“He feels very principled about a matter and will fight for that principle,” Levin said.

Rubin said his plans for retirement don’t differ from what he did during his working life. He’ll still take daily walks at Eagle Creek Park and still travel with his wife.

Hickey said Rubin will still be setting an example for the firm, just like he’s done for so many lawyers.

“When something leaves our door, we want it to be right,” Hickey said.•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Thanks Jim. We surprised ourselves with the first album, so we did a second one. We are releasing it 6/30/17 at the HiFi. The reviews so far are amazing! www.itsjustcraig.com Skope Mag: It’s Just Craig offers a warm intimacy with the tender folk of “Dark Corners”. Rather lovely in execution, It’s Just Craig opts for a full, rich sound. Quite ornate instrumentally, the songs unfurl with such grace and style. Everything about the album feels real and fully lived. By far the highlight of the album are the soft smooth reassuring vocals whose highly articulate lyrics have a dreamy quality to them. Stories emerge out of these small snapshots of reflective moments.... A wide variety of styles are utilized, with folk anchoring it but allowing for chamber pop, soundtrack work, and found electronics filtering their way into the mix. Without a word, It’s Just Craig sets the tone of the album with the warble of “Intro”. From there things get truly started with the hush of “Go”. Building up into a great structure, “Go” has a kindness to it. Organs glisten in the distance on the fragile textures of “Alone” whose light melody adds to the song’s gorgeousness. A wonderful bloom of color defines the spaciousness of “Captain”. Infectious grooves take hold on the otherworldly origins of “Goodnight” with precise drum work giving the song a jazzy feeling. Hazy to its very core is the tragedy of “Leaving Now”. By far the highlight of the album comes with the closing impassioned “Thirty-Nine” where many layers of sound work together possessing a poetic quality.

  2. what a wonderful world we are living, i still doubt this spell caster how he did it!!! i am Tamara Barrow am from USA I am so happy to let the whole word know how this powerful spell caster saved my marriage.Everything was going down the drain as my husband can not stop cheating on me with other women. It became used to always heating on me. I tried to make him stop, but I couldn't help the situation, the more I tried, the harder it becomes. At times we will fight and go apart for some months and we will come back again just because of our kids. One day a friend told me about this spell caster who helped her too, his name is Dr.voodoo, she said he uses white magic spells to solve spiritual problems. I decided to give it a try, I contacted him and he told me it will take just 2 to 3 days and I will see great changes in my husband. He actually cast a spell, believe me after 2 to 3 days of the spell, my husband was confessing different names of woman he has slept with. He begged for forgiveness and never to try it again. From that day till now, my mind is at rest. My husband dislike every other women on earth except me. And am so happy to have him for myself alone.The spell caster’s contact his email at: voodoospelltemple66@gmail.com visit his website on http://drvodoospelltemple.webs.com

  3. Andrew, if what you report is true, then it certainly is newsworthy. If what you report is false, then it certainly is newsworthy. Any journalists reading along??? And that same Coordinator blew me up real good as well, even destroying evidence to get the ordered wetwork done. There is a story here, if any have the moxie to go for it. Search ADA here for just some of my experiences with the court's junk yard dog. https://www.scribd.com/document/299040062/Brown-ind-Bar-memo-Pet-cert Yep, drive by shootings. The lawyers of the Old Dominion got that right. Career executions lacking any real semblance of due process. It is the ISC way ... under the bad shepard's leadership ... and a compliant, silent, boot-licking fifth estate.

  4. Journalism may just be asleep. I pray this editorial is more than just a passing toss and turn. Indiana's old boy system of ruling over attorneys is cultish. Unmask them oh guardians of democracy.

  5. Banana.Republic

ADVERTISEMENT