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Hickey: Common Goal

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IBA-Hickey-Christine“Common,” as in shared by two or more people or as in done often or not rare. Common can also mean belonging to or affecting the whole of a community as in common land. These definitions capture the spirit of the members of our Bar; I witnessed this first-hand recently through an initiative called Common Goal.

Several months ago, the IBA was approached by the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce to host two “at-risk” high school interns who expressed an interest in the law. Appreciating the importance of this program, the Executive Director of the Bar, Julie Armstrong, and I agreed to shepherd these two young girls through a law-related experience that would be fitting for our Association.

Time being the scarcest commodity for our profession, I have always maintained that lawyers are as giving as they are busy. Despite clogged calendars, trial schedules, and a multitude of other commitments, they always manage to squeeze in volunteer time; this internship was no exception. I envisioned a schedule for my student, Cheyenne, that would expose her to different areas of the law through various bar leaders. When I picked up the phone to call on IBA members to spend an afternoon or a day with a high school student, the answer from all was the same and without hesitation: yes.

From criminal law, family practice, bar review and law school lectures, civil matters, and a “view from the bench,” the internship provided an 80-hour behind-the-scenes, real-life look at the legal profession. Whether a lunch and encouraging dialogue, or a full-day of shadowing, our attorneys and judges did the Bar proud and I extend my appreciation to Kelly Scanlan, Erin Durnell, Jimmie McMillian, the Honorable Heather Welch, Marie Castetter, the Honorable Robyn Moberly, and Nissa Ricafort.

In a recent newspaper article, Cheyenne credited her internship experience as energizing her longtime goal of becoming a lawyer. As a 15-year-old mother with much on her plate, Cheyenne chose to spend her summer days learning about the law. Despite having to rely on others for transportation, she showed up on time, well mannered and eager to see what the day would hold for her. As much as she learned from her experience with the Bar, she likewise left something behind for me: a renewed sense of pride in a profession that encourages “yes” even with a jam-packed schedule, and a reminder of the importance of mentoring.

Whether to a high school student, a law student or a young lawyer who is new to the courtroom, taking that extra step to involve, engage, and lead is part and parcel of what we do as lawyers and judges. The importance of this was crystallized recently at a board meeting where a member lamented the death of a lawyer who helped to shape his early law career. He remarked that three lawyers spoke at the service, all of whom credited the attorney with being their mentor. He commented that he hoped we have not lost that in this day and age. I can assure you that we have not and this internship experience assures me of that.

As an IBA member, I encourage you to take someone under your wing and show them the ropes, answer a question, have lunch with a young lawyer, attend the IBA Law Student Division Summer Connection on July 29th and the Mentors Who Matter lunch in September. Continue to mentor and continue daily to be an inspiration to others. Although common can also mean “without special qualities or ordinary,” this is one definition that does not apply to the members of our Bar.•

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  1. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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