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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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