IBA: Interrogatories

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By Tyler D. Helmond, Voyles Zahn & Paul

James J. Bell

Partner, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP

Bell James Bell

He is a graduate of DePauw University and the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. He practiced at the Marion County Public Defender Agency and Kiefer & McGoff prior to joining Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP. He is the most dynamic speaker on the regional CLE speaking circuit. He is James J. Bell, and he has been served with interrogatories.

Q:Your doppelgänger, Peyton Manning, recently left the city. How have you been holding up?

A:I just looked up “doppelgänger” and I do not believe that word accurately describes my relationship with our former QB. And no, it wasn’t a “man-crush” either. Anyway, I am sooo over #18 and have moved on to #12. Mr. Manning and I will just have to be friends.

Q:You’ve practiced in a variety of settings, including the Marion County Public Defender agency and both small and large firms. If you could choose a legal job other than your present one, what would it be?

A:If I could be anything in the legal profession, I would want to be Jim Voyles. He has implied to me that it is pretty awesome being him AND he gets to park next to the No Parking sign at The Workingman’s Friend.

Q:If you and your colleague Phil Isenbarger played basketball one on one, first to 21 wins, what would be the score?

A:Phil is a great guy so I think he would let me score at least once before he pummeled me with tomahawk dunks. Final Score: Isenbarger: 21; Bell: 2.

Q:You’ve practiced criminal defense for a long time. Have you ever had a client offer to pay you in something other than currency?

A:Believe it or not, my firm likes to get paid in currency. I once tried to get paid in tattoos and championship rings. However, the management of our firm said “no way” citing to the case of The Ohio State University v. the NCAA. I was really disappointed because I had already picked out a beautiful lower back tattoo of a demon mermaid for a select member of our management committee.

Q:Last year, you were a finalist in the Indiana State Bar Association’s Harrison Legal Writing Awards, but you didn’t win. Do you think you’ll ever win?

A:I shood. I am verry stellular righter. Not shure y I faled too win.

Q:Speaking of legal writing, you work with young associates at your firm. What advice do you give them about improving their writing?

A:Having never won one of those Harrison Award thingys, I am not sure I have enough writing street cred to hand out advice. But if I did, I would tell younger writers to get to the point as clearly and concisely as possible without being condescending to any of the parties or the courts.

Q:You went to DePauw. DePauw has lost the Monon Bell in each of the last four years. Is Wabash a superior institution?

A:Until you asked this question, I had never heard of Wabash College. However, I called David Hensel and he assured me that Wabash is a great institution and that it easily lives up to its nickname as being “The Harvard of Crawfordsville.”

Q:What has been the most satisfying moment or accomplishment of your legal career?

A:That’s hard to say. Whether I am representing individuals in criminal cases or attorney discipline matters, I am representing someone against the government. No matter how “successful” I am, my client has normally been put through a lot. I sometimes feel only relief when I accomplish something for my client. That said, a Henry County Sheriff once escorted Kevin McGoff and me to the county line after an acquittal in a murder case. That was satisfying in a Dukes of Hazzard sort of way.

Q:If you had to be stranded on an island with three members of the Indiana bench and bar, who would you choose and why?

A:If I were stranded on an island with three lawyers, I would apply sunscreen, vote myself off the island and start swimming.•


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues