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IBA Bar Leader: A Graduate's Perspective

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Erin Durnell By Erin Durnel

On May 18th, I had the privilege of attending the graduation session of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series Class VII. Each year, the Series class is composed of twenty-five lawyers in their third through tenth years of practice who meet monthly from September through May. The class is further divided into five small groups, each one responsible for planning and implementing a community service project as a requirement for successful completion of the Series. Prior to the graduation celebration, the final session of the Series is dedicated to providing the class members with an opportunity to give a presentation explaining their projects – including the successes and challenges that they faced in the process – to their classmates, representatives of IBA leadership, and other special guests.

As a graduate of Bar Leader Series Class V, and a member of the Steering Committee for Classes VI, VII and next year’s VII, I can appreciate the time and energy that the groups put into their community service projects. Every year that I observe the final presentations, I am amazed at the quality of the projects. Every year, I am proud of the participants and their dedication to completing the Series. And every year, I am humbled to be a part of the Bar Leader Series community.

During the graduation session, it occurred to me that many IBA members probably aren’t aware of this excellent program. Many have no idea that each year, an ever-increasing number of worthy attorneys submit applications to compete for a spot in the upcoming class. Many are unaware that the participants have unparalleled opportunities for professional development and personal growth during the nine-month program.

The Series kicks off each year in August with an informal gathering to allow incoming class members to meet and interact with Series alumni. The class then travels to Southern Indiana for an overnight retreat in September that provides concerted leadership training and sets the stage for the rest of the program. Thereafter, the class meets monthly for half-day sessions. Lunch discussions with special guests provide fascinating insights into the lives of community leaders. The “substantive” portion of each monthly meeting is deliberately planned to offer both CLE and thought-provoking information about the Indianapolis community, its history, challenges, and future.

Why does the IBA offer the Bar Leader Series, and why does the Indianapolis Bar Foundation continue to financially support this program? Simply put, “why” can be answered by acknowledging the “who”: graduates of Bar Leader Series are our future partners, future judges, future IBA presidents, and future community leaders.

The future isn’t very far away – graduates of the Series already serve in leadership roles in the Association and the Foundation. By offering this program, the IBA and IBF are investing in the future of our profession by training attorneys to be better leaders – lawyers of integrity and unwavering dedication to the practice of law. They are the “who.” And they are a worthy “why.”

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Erin Durnell is a family law attorney with Broyles Kight & Ricafort and a graduate and steering committee member of the IBA’s Bar Leader Series.Bar Leader Graduates

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  1. Call it unauthorized law if you must, a regulatory wrong, but it was fraud and theft well beyond that, a seeming crime! "In three specific cases, the hearing officer found that Westerfield did little to no work for her clients but only issued a partial refund or no refund at all." That is theft by deception, folks. "In its decision to suspend Westerfield, the Supreme Court noted that she already had a long disciplinary history dating back to 1996 and had previously been suspended in 2004 and indefinitely suspended in 2005. She was reinstated in 2009 after finally giving the commission a response to the grievance for which she was suspended in 2004." WOW -- was the Indiana Supreme Court complicit in her fraud? Talk about being on notice of a real bad actor .... "Further, the justices noted that during her testimony, Westerfield was “disingenuous and evasive” about her relationship with Tope and attempted to distance herself from him. They also wrote that other aggravating factors existed in Westerfield’s case, such as her lack of remorse." WOW, and yet she only got 18 months on the bench, and if she shows up and cries for them in a year and a half, and pays money to JLAP for group therapy ... back in to ride roughshod over hapless clients (or are they "marks") once again! Aint Hoosier lawyering a great money making adventure!!! Just live for the bucks, even if filthy lucre, and come out a-ok. ME on the other hand??? Lifetime banishment for blowing the whistle on unconstitutional governance. Yes, had I ripped off clients or had ANY disciplinary history for doing that I would have fared better, most likely, as that it would have revealed me motivated by Mammon and not Faith. Check it out if you doubt my reading of this, compare and contrast the above 18 months with my lifetime banishment from court, see appendix for Bar Examiners report which the ISC adopted without substantive review: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS

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  3. So if I am reading it right, only if and when African American college students agree to receive checks labeling them as "Negroes" do they receive aid from the UNCF or the Quaker's Educational Fund? In other words, to borrow from the Indiana Appellate Court, "the [nonprofit] supposed to be [their] advocate, refers to [students] in a racially offensive manner. While there is no evidence that [the nonprofits] intended harm to [African American students], the harm was nonetheless inflicted. [Black students are] presented to [academia and future employers] in a racially offensive manner. For these reasons, [such] performance [is] deficient and also prejudice[ial]." Maybe even DEPLORABLE???

  4. I'm the poor soul who spent over 10 years in prison with many many other prisoners trying to kill me for being charged with a sex offense THAT I DID NOT COMMIT i was in jail for a battery charge for helping a friend leave a boyfriend who beat her I've been saying for over 28 years that i did not and would never hurt a child like that mine or anybody's child but NOBODY wants to believe that i might not be guilty of this horrible crime or think that when i say that ALL the paperwork concerning my conviction has strangely DISAPPEARED or even when the long beach judge re-sentenced me over 14 months on a already filed plea bargain out of another districts court then had it filed under a fake name so i could not find while trying to fight my conviction on appeal in a nut shell people are ALWAYS quick to believe the worst about some one well I DID NOT HURT ANY CHILD EVER IN MY LIFE AND HAVE SAID THIS FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS please if anybody can me get some kind of justice it would be greatly appreciated respectfully written wrongly accused Brian Valenti

  5. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

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