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Hickey: It's No Joke.

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IBA-Hickey-ChristineWhen is the last time you heard a good lawyer joke? I am not always quick to the draw on jokes and often forget punch lines; however, there is one type of joke that always grabs my attention: those that degrade our profession. I don’t like them; I don’t tell them. There is no such thing as a good lawyer joke.

I have written often this year about our community of lawyers and what a difference we are making in so many ways. I have written about individuals and groups of lawyers and judges who are upstanding, professional, giving, and committed to the law, the judicial system, and the people it serves. The names of those who have been mentioned in columns are just a small example of the bigger, greater group of lawyers whose names could have replaced those listed. Those people are from all walks of our profession: private firm, public sector, non-practicing, part-time, partner, law student, legal assistant, and every category of law practice imaginable. It is an honor to be a part of this special group. To make jest of this profession, these people, is simply not funny.

As lawyers, we take an Oath of Attorneys, which includes the following affirmation: “I do solemnly swear or affirm that: . . I will not counsel or maintain any action, proceeding, or defense which shall appear to me to be unjust, but this obligation shall not prevent me from defending a person charged with crime in any case; . . I will abstain from offensive personality . . .; 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.” To take lightly or belittle this commitment is wrong.

The IndyBar Standards of Professionalism were created to foster continued respect and trust among lawyers and with the public. Those Standards include a commitment to maintaining and fostering public confidence in our profession; an agreement to be guided by “a fundamental sense of honor, integrity and fair play; and to act with dignity, civility, decency, and courtesy,” refraining from rude, disruptive, disrespectful, obstructive and abusive behavior. What we say about each other and about our chosen profession should be guided by these very principles.

Simply put: respect each other and the profession. Sometimes, the most important lessons are learned before we even realize their significance. So I share with you one of my favorites, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum:

Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

There is something in this for everyone, no matter your age and no matter your stature. Play fair, live a balanced life, and always remember it is best to hold hands and stick together. That, my friends, is no joke.•

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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