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Hickey: Those People

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To say that we got where we are without the help of others would be a lie, no matter who you are. Whether it was a teacher, friend, family or an unexpected lesson learned from someone whose path you never crossed again, there is some part of us all that is the product of the people around us.

Law school teaches us that we learn from others: other cases, other courts, other legal arguments. Precedent provides guidance; lawyers and judges pave the way for future law and litigants. As a law student, your professors prepare you for understanding substantive law and mastering the art of critical thinking. What you aren’t taught is what it’s like to be a lawyer or how to earn respect in your profession. You aren’t taught what is appropriate at judicial receptions, how to speak in public, or how to properly handle the difficult client or contentious opponent. Instead, you watch and learn from those around you. There is no doubt that whether you are fresh to the profession or celebrating the end of a successful career, you have someone to thank.

On September 30th, the Bar will recognize attorneys who have been one of “those people.” “Those people” are the ones who showed you how to act in court, how to lose with grace, and how to befriend the bailiff. They gave the wise counsel of showing up on time, being prepared, and thanking the judge for an adverse ruling. They are the people who looked up from their work to talk to you about your case and not only listened to your argument but provided constructive criticism. They answered your questions after careful thought and didn’t make you feel as if you were wasting their time.

For me, “those people” were many. Some were nameless opposing counsel whose style and abilities I admired and strived to adopt in my practice. Some were attorneys in specialized fields who answered a call to talk about a strange set of facts. Some were attorneys in my office who explained how to argue to win and how to funnel young-lawyer energy into good legal argument. Some were the attorneys who were held up by this Bar as leaders, who set an example of how to lead positively and with passion. As I look back over the years, I realize how many different people helped to shape how I practice and who I am. For many, they don’t even know that they were one of “those people.” However, at least one made a conscious decision and for that I thank him.

It is not that he gave me answers, but rather that he explained why. It was the counseled critique of a letter, a speech, a conversation; always focused on detail and ways to improve. It was trusting a young lawyer to meet with clients, and not allowing the waiter to take his plate until I was finished, ever the gentleman. It was the gentle urging that I could do whatever I wanted, and knowing that he truly believed that, always. It was the sharing of stories from his years in practice and service as a state senator, a wealth of information that he offered freely and that had nuggets of life lessons woven in them. It was his work ethic and his commitment to excellence. Perhaps more than anything, however, it was twenty-two years of praise and reinforcement that I was headed down the right path and that I was doing a good job. “That person” for me is George Rubin and I dedicate this article to him.

As we prepare for the Mentors Who Matter luncheon, I hope that you will honor those people who have made a difference in your life. Invite them to lunch; write a special thank you. Just as important, make a conscious decision to be one of “those people” for someone else.



MENTOR

Making time for questions; Explaining why even when the person doesn’t know enough to ask the question; Never losing sight of the big picture, you were there once; Teaching demeanor, persistence, patience, and all of the other things that don’t come in a book; Offering guidance but not insisting; Remembering, above all else, that you can make a difference.

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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