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IBA: In His Shoes: Beginning the Bar Leader Series Journey

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Throughout the 2012-2013 Bar Leader Series, we’ll follow the experience of Series member Kevin Morrissey, Lewis & Kappes PC.

This September, 25 young lawyers from Indianapolis retreated to the Waycross Camp in Morgantown, Indiana, to kick off the 2012-2013 iteration of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series, known as Bar Leader Series X (“BLS X”). The initial retreat was an opportunity for the members of BLS X to turn off their cell phones, forget about email (cell service was not available out there anyway), take a break from the rigors of daily law practice, and come together in the Indiana wilderness for a collaborative two-day workshop as the first of eight leadership sessions to take place over the next nine months. I am honored to be a participant in BLS X, and I look forward to chronicling my experiences as our class moves forward to explore the wide variety of issues, challenges, and opportunities facing our community and our profession.

Our BLS X retreat was led by BLS X Chair Kevin McGoff of Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP and our facilitator, Stuart Shepley. Although we are sworn to secrecy about experiences unknown—think “Survivor” or “The Amazing Race”—I can say that Mr. Shepley brought us together in the great outdoors to get to know one another quickly (and closely) through some unique physical group challenges.
 

iba-bls-group-15col.jpg Members of Class X of the IndyBar’s Bar Leader Series gather during the class retreat, held September 20-21 at the Waycross Camp in Morgantown, Indiana. Created in 2003, the Bar Leader Series is the IndyBar’s leadership development program for young attorneys. This fast-track series empowers participants to make the most of their innate talents, while emphasizing the importance of service to the community. Following the retreat, The Series continues with monthly presentations for an entire afternoon for a nine-month period on a broad range of topics presented by local legal, political and business leaders.

These exercises not only broke the ice, but also taught us a great deal about our individual leadership styles, and that of the group as a whole. Admittedly, certain group members were apprehensive when the blindfolds and ropes came out, yet the consensus was that these collaborative exercises were a lot of a fun and a great learning experience. I can testify that I had more than one “light bulb moment” during the course of the retreat while debriefing with Mr. Shepley.

We also had the good fortune of listening to many words of wisdom about leadership and the legal profession from one of our BLS X moderators, John Trimble, a partner at Lewis Wagner LLP. We are also fortunate to have David Herzog, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, as our second moderator for BLS X. Our moderators have graciously agreed to guide the members of BLS X through this dynamic nine month experience and impart their considerable wisdom and experience along the way. I am sure I am joined with the other 24 members of the group in extending my heartfelt thanks to these busy men for volunteering their time to the next generation of Indianapolis attorneys and prospective leaders.

At the retreat, Mr. Trimble addressed the qualities and characteristics that constitute a successful leader in the 21st century. This session had a particular impact on me as Mr. Trimble shared his vision of the daily habits and values shared by successful leaders. As put forth by Mr. Trimble, individual habits may seem small when taken alone, but when combined into a consistent routine, they converge to make a stronger leader, lawyer and individual. This speech reinforced the importance of the Bar Leader Series for the young lawyers in our legal community.

As I reflected on this session, I thought, where else could a young attorney participate in a candid, interactive session with one of the foremost leaders of the Indianapolis Bar? This opportunity was truly unique. Barriers were taken down. We came together as a group to talk frankly and openly about leadership and the legal profession during challenging times for our profession.


iba-bls-kevin-15col.jpg Our author, Kevin Morrissey of Lewis & Kappes PC, smiles at center with fellow Class X members at the BLS Retreat this September.

In October, BLS X held its second session. The setting had changed. This time we were inside four walls in our familiar city of Indianapolis. This session focused on the strengths, weaknesses and challenges faced by the Indianapolis community. Dan Evans, CEO of IU Health, led a discussion concerning the attributes of successful leaders that he learned over his years in politics, private practice and the corporate space. Mr. Evans stressed the importance of developing strong professional relationships in our 30s and 40s, as these are the connections that will carry forward throughout the course of our legal careers. The second session further included interactive sessions with several community leaders and executives of economic development organizations from the Indianapolis area. We dove into specific issues facing our community today, including brain drain, transportation infrastructure and a changing workforce. This was a unique experience for all of us to learn from individuals on the front line of contemporary Indianapolis issues.

The first two sessions of BLS X have been eye-opening and thought provoking. Our first two meetings have also been very enjoyable and have resulted in new friendships and connections. I look forward to relating the experiences of BLS X as our group of 25 eager, young lawyers progress through each of the dynamic leadership sessions in the coming months.•

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  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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