IBA: IndyBar to Honor Professionalism

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On Thursday, September 30 the Indianapolis Bar Association is elevating the discussion of professionalism within the practice of law by hosting Mentors Who Matter – a luncheon highlighting some outstanding professionals in our legal community. This noon luncheon at the Conrad Hotel will include the presentation of IndyBar’s Silver Gavel Award to the Honorable Sarah Evans Barker and the Professionalism Award to Martha S. Hollingsworth of Bingham McHale.

The Honorable Sarah Evans Barker

evans barker Barker

“The commitment in all our professional dealings to adhere to the highest standards of our shared calling – integrity and candor, loyalty to clients and the courts, fidelity to the rule of law, the diligent and thorough pursuit of the tasks entrusted to us, civility, a sense of fairness, personal modesty,” this is professionalism in the words of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s 2010 Silver Gavel Award recipient, The Honorable Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

The Silver Gavel recognizes the recipient’s intellectual honesty and compassion. When asked what she find most challenging to these aspects of professionalism Judge Barker replied, “Time is always the greatest threat to intellectual honesty and compassion. The more pressed attorneys and judges are by the amount and difficulty of the work confronting them, the higher the likelihood that corners will be cut.”

She continued, “Fortunately, in the federal courts, judges have the benefit of excellent law clerks and court staff. These and other protections are built into the process which help to slow things down and structure the analysis to foster intellectual honesty and compassion. But all this takes time, lots of time.”

Having been a member of the Indianapolis legal community since 1972 and a federal judge since 1984, Judge Barker has interacted with and been influenced by a significant number of renown jurists.

“I have been privileged to practice before and work with and be friends of many people who embody the highest standards of professionalism,” Judge Barker said. “If I were to select from that long list (who embody professionalism), I would include the federal judges who taught me how to be an effective trial lawyer and who later became my colleagues on the federal district court bench, ie, Judge S. Hugh Dillin, Judge James E. Noland and Judge William E. Steckler. Each was a mentor and a valued confidant and friend.”

Throughout her career Judge Barker has come in contact with lawyers and judges from throughout the country. Even so, she holds a special appreciation for the lawyers and judges of the Southern District, “I have said many times over the years how privileged I feel to be a judge serving a court located in this particular place. We have an exceedingly fine, upstanding bar throughout our district and an extraordinary cadre of judges – federal and state.”

“The kinds of issues placed before the courts for resolution are significant, interesting, challenging and meaningful. The lawyers, as well as the jurors called upon to help resolve these legal disputes, know that the quality of their efforts makes a real and lasting difference in terms of the quality of justice and public confidence. For me, it remains a distinct privilege to be able to share responsibility for delivering on the promises of justice for all our citizens.

Judge Barker commented on “the season of change currently underway within the ranks of the state and federal judiciary” as two new federal district court judges have recently taken their seats as members of the Southern District Court, a new federal magistrate judge was also recently selected, and the selection of a new Indiana Supreme Court Justice is soon to be announced by the Governor. She remarked, “Through all these changes, I have observed one constant: the truly admirable level of graciousness and kindness expressed towards those who were selected by those who were passed over for these posts and not selected this time. I have been impressed – indeed, touched – by the outpouring of compliments and praise and support conveyed by virtually every one of the unsuccessful candidates, attesting not only to the fact that they themselves are, to a person, class acts, people imbued with the best kind of professionalism exhibiting behaviors that other lawyers and judges admire and all should seek to emulate.”

When asked to comment on her selection for the Silver Gavel Award she made her thoughts clear, “I feel very honored, indeed.”

Martha S. Hollingsworth

hollingsworth-marthaBW-mug Hollingsworth

To put it simply, yet perfectly; when it comes to professionalism, “We all know it when we see it and cringe when we experience its opposite.” These are the words of Martha “Marty” Hollingsworth of Bingham McHale, recipient of the Indianapolis Bar’s Professionalism Award.

A former co-chair of IndyBar’s Professionalism Committee, Hollingsworth has led efforts to enhance professionalism and initiatives to improve the public’s perception of the profession.

Recently, Hollingsworth was asked about what she sees as threats to professionalism. She said, “Interestingly, it’s the little things such as these that undermine civility and cause disrespect and distrust among attorneys, judges and clients: failing to respond softly to demanding, aggressive or rude conduct of the opposing attorney or our clients; failing to respond in a timely manner to communications from another attorney or our clients that ask for a response; failing to give respect or extend courtesies to the opposing attorney that we would want given to us if we were in similar circumstances; refusing to acknowledge that a legal position lacks supporting authority rather than simply to admit that there is no current legal precedent but the reasoning for the proposition is sound; slightly distorting or exaggerating the holding of a case or the meaning of a statute beyond its actual terms to buttress an argument; purposely misconstruing an opposing party’s position; inferring a wrong or malicious motive to an opposing party’s or attorney’s conduct or position when none may exist or have been intended.”

Currently winding down her practice at Bingham McHale where she has practiced law since 1972, Hollingsworth credits the firm and those she’s worked with and for as her source for professional inspiration. Of her time with the firm she said, “I have been inspired by the clients who have entrusted me with their problems and allowed me the marvelous privilege to represent them, by my law partners in the Bingham firm who always strive for excellence and by the judges and attorneys in Indiana who make the practice of law an honor and a labor of love.”

She continued, “Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure to know and work with many attorneys and judges who embody professionalism, including Judge Jim Kirsch, Judge Sarah Evans Barker, Karl Mulvaney, Kevin McGoff, John Maley, Chris Scanlon, Carl Pebworth, Don Blackmond, John Trimble, Tom Bodkin, and Art Surgine, to name just a few. It is good to realize how many in our profession have a reputation for honor, respect and trustworthiness.”

To be honored with the Professionalism Award is something Hollingsworth described as “humbling”. She added, “It is immensely gratifying to be included among the exceptional attorneys who are past recipients of this award.”•


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  1. Mr Smith, while most reading these posts are too busy making money or cranking out what passes for justice in our legal-techocrat order,I have often attempted to resist your cynicism, well thought out cynicism I admit. Please know that I give up, I can resist your logic no more. From Locknarian Platonic Guardians, through the incorporation doctine, to substantive due process, to Roe, to the latest demands that all states redefine the foundational stone of all civilized social order, the history of America's fall from Grace is inscribed on the dockets of the judiciary. From the federal judges' apostasy of a kind that would have caused John Jay to recommend capital punishment, to the state judges' refusal to protect the sanctuary of the state constitutions, seeing in them merely a font from which to protect pornographers, those who scream "f*ck the police" and pemubras and emanations following the federal apostates, it has been the judiciary, by and large, that has brought the Experiment in Ordered Liberty to an end. The Founders had great and high hopes that they had designed the third branch to save the Republic from such a time as this ... rather the third branch has allowed itself to be used to drag the Republic into rat infested sewers from which no nation has ever returned. Save me from tomorrow:

  2. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  3. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  4. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  5. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied