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IBA: WLD Invites IndyBar Members to Explore Women's Legal History

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iba-leach-fbox.gifBy Germaine Winnick Willett,Ice Miller LLP

Did you know that a number of Indiana women played important roles in the national fight for women’s suffrage? Women like Mary Frame Thomas, who gave a stirring address for women’s rights before Indiana’s legislature in 1859, the first woman to ever speak before the elected body. Or abolitionist Amanda Way, who stated her case for women’s right to vote to the state legislature in 1871 and who worked tirelessly to organize suffrage activists. Another crusader for women’s rights was journalist, lawyer, and temperance activist Helen Gougar, who sued the Tippecanoe County election board for refusing to permit her to vote. She appealed her case to the Indiana Supreme Court, where she became the first woman to argue before the state’s highest court. These and many other women worked tirelessly on both the local and national stage to persuade hearts and minds that women should not be denied the right to vote.

It took decades, but finally, in 1919, the U.S. Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment, granting all women the right to vote, and sent the amendment to the states for ratification. Indiana ratified the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, the 26th state to do so.

Long before suffrage was won, women and men lobbied for and achieved important changes in Indiana’s divorce and property laws for the benefit of women. Admission to practice law proved a tougher battle. Though some counties decided to admit women to the practice of law (the first was Vigo County when it admitted Elizabeth Jane Eaglesfield in 1875), most other counties denied applications to practice made by women. Not until 1893 did Antoinette Dakin Leach convince the Indiana Supreme Court that women could not be deprived of the right to practice law based solely on their gender.

These courageous figures in Indiana history, once examined, serve as important role models for today’s lawyers. It is with this backdrop in mind that IndyBar’s Women and Law Division (WLD) is poised to present a half-day seminar titled “Women’s Legal History–Major Movements and Local Impact.” The seminar will take place on October 23, 2012, from 1:30 to 5:15 p.m. and will provide attendees 3.5 hours of general continuing legal education credit.

The first session will feature Eric Hamilton and Jennifer Kalvaitis, graduate students in history at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who have been studying the suffrage movement in Indiana. The 2011 Antoinette Dakin Leach Award winner, the Honorable Margret Robb, will join them to discuss her own research into the legal battles over the right of Indiana women to practice law, and Justice Leonard Hackney’s historic decision, In re Leach.

In the second session, Professor Jennifer Drobac from the I.U. Robert H. McKinney School of Law and Nora Macey of Macey Swanson & Allman will describe the key legislative changes in the decades following the suffrage victory that were necessary to open the doors for women to advance in the professional realm. Additionally, Jill Chambers from the Indiana Women’s History Association and lawyer Jan Ellis will describe the local activism for gender equality in which they took part some twenty years ago.

Few doubt that female professionals continue to face unique challenges and encounter barriers that slow or stymie their professional advancement. In the final session, Ann DeLaney and Kathleen DeLaney of DeLaney & DeLaney will lead a discussion on why, in the twenty-first century, a gender gap still exists with respect to leadership in law. The discussion will include explanation of the phenomena of implicit bias and stereotype threat, as well as strategies that organizations and women themselves can employ to reduce or eliminate their impact on women’s professional performance and achievement.

WLD’s Women’s Legal History seminar will take place at the Columbia Club. All attendees are invited to a reception following the seminar. In a fitting tribute to the past and in celebration of the many victories won by our foremothers, WLD will host its annual Antoinette Dakin Leach Award dinner immediately following the reception (also at the Columbia Club). This year, WLD will present the ADL Award to Kathleen Lucas, a partner at Bose McKinney & Evans. Those interested in attending the seminar, the award dinner, or both, can go to www.indybar.org for additional information and online registration.•

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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