IBA: Celebrate Ask a Lawyer's Ten Year Anniversary

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By Julie M. Armstrong

In November, 2000 then Indianapolis Bar Association President Karen Turner, Indiana Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm, and Indianapolis lawyer Patty McKinnon teamed up to make the Indianapolis Bar’s first Ask a Lawyer a reality. The brainchild of the late Hon. Paul H. Buchanan, Jr., Ask a Lawyer was created to give all Indianapolis citizens the opportunity not just to gain free access to an attorney, but to personalize the profession.

Judge Buchanan thought that if more people knew a lawyer, really had an opportunity to sit and talk with a lawyer, it would be more difficult to think the worst of those who practice law. He knew how highly he regarded the people he encountered in practice and wanted to share them with those in need. From that desire Ask a Lawyer began.

Armed with Judge Buchanan’s vision and monetary support, IBA President Karen Turner began seeking key volunteers to turn the vision into a reality. First on board was Justice Boehm who agreed to oversee the creation of The Commonly Asked Questions About Indiana Law, which still serves as the handbook for Ask a Lawyer volunteers.

Patty McKinnon joined the team to shape the recruitment plan for the 100 volunteer attorneys needed to make the program a success. Within a few short months sites were secured, all volunteer spots were filled, and the handbook was complete. Ask a Lawyer was born.

Since that time Ask a Lawyer has continued to be held twice each year averaging service to over 350 central Indiana residents per session. That’s over 3,500 people getting to know a lawyer, not just asking a lawyer. Judge Buchanan must be proud.

Play a role in celebrating our tenth year by volunteering to assist with our October 12, 2010 session. Attorneys are needed to staff the following Marion County Library locations from 2-4 p.m. or 4-6 p.m.:


East Washington

East 38th



To volunteer please contact IBA Pro Bono Coordinator Caren Chopp at•

Julie Armstrong has been on staff at the Indianapolis Bar since 1991, serving as Executive Director of the Association and Foundation since 1995.


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  1. What Mr. Bir is paying is actually Undifferentiated Family Support, which is a mixture of child support and spousal maintenance. If the courts had labeled accurately labeled the transfer payment, I think that Mr. Bir would have fewer objections to paying it because both Spousal Maintenance and Undifferentiated Family Support are tax deductions for the paying party and taxable to the receiving party. I brought this issue up with my family court judge when my voluntarily unemployed ex-wife was using the 'child support' transfer payment to support both herself and out children. Said family court judge stated that I did not know what I was talking about because I did not have a Juris Doctorate, despite my having a printout with dictionary definitions of the legal terms that I was using for documentation.

  2. Lori, you must really love wedding cake stories like this one ... happy enuf ending for you?

  3. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  4. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  5. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?