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IBA: Interrogatories

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By Tyler D. Helmond, Voyles Zahn & Paul

Lee A. Smith
Executive Director, Brewers of Indiana Guild
 

iba-las-w-fsq-pint-1col.jpg Lee Smith

She is a graduate of Indiana University and the Chicago-Kent College of Law. She has served as a Deputy Public Defender at the Indiana State Public Defender’s Office, the Principal Clerk of the Indiana House of Representatives, and a Donor Relations Officer at Indiana Landmarks. She is Lee Smith, and she has been served with interrogatories.


Q What is the Brewers of Indiana Guild?

A The Guild is the trade association for all of Indiana’s professional craft breweries, 61 at the moment but the ranks are growing an average of one new brewery per month.

Q In your former life, your clients were criminal defendants. Now your only client is Indiana craft beer. For which is it more fun to advocate?

A Well, of course the brewers are more fun, especially since I don’t have to be frisked prior to visits with this client! Our meetings often include sitting down with a pint of beer (a very civilized way to conduct business, by the way!). But you’re right to recognize that both of these career turns include advocacy. I love the job I have now, but I’m also proud of the work I did as a Deputy Public Defender.

Q What is the most interesting or unique Indiana craft beer you’ve tried?

A Our brewers are very creative, so “most unique” changes all the time. One beer that comes to mind is Rob Caputo’s Cucumber Kolsch. Rob is the head brewer at Flat 12 Bierwerks. It didn’t sound like something I’d like, but it was refreshingly light with just a hint of cucumber, and quite delicious! I took the Kolsch to the Great American Beer Festival last October and people were absolutely crazy for it.

Q The Guild sponsors several very popular beer festivals each year. What goes into making those events so successful? Are there any plans to add annual events?

A We produce three annual festivals with a total attendance of around 10,000. Winterfest and the Indiana Microbrewers Festival are in Indy, and our newest fest is in Bloomington. The next festival is the Third Annual Bloomington Craft Beer Festival in April (a great fest in an amazing venue: the historic Woolery Mill). There are two reasons our festivals have gained such a loyal following: the brewers and the volunteers. The brewers are kind of rock stars among the faithful, and festivals are the primary opportunity for brewers and beer enthusiasts to interact (and the brewers enjoy it just as much as the guests). Our festivals are largely managed by a group of volunteers called Hoosier Beer Geek. These people are amazing in their dedication and professionalism. The Guild is still basically a grass-roots organization and we couldn’t do the festivals without HBG.

Q I can’t ask you to pick a favorite from among Guild members, so what is your favorite commercial beer?

A Well, if I picked one of the big “fizzy” beers I’d get laughed out of the Guild. Truth be told, I’m not sure I’ll ever again enjoy a Bud Light. If I can’t get craft, I’ll order the closest thing which usually ends up being a Heineken.

Q You have two children who are at or nearing drinking age. What has been your approach to teach them about alcohol and how it should be used responsibly?

A We’ve tried to demystify alcohol in our household. My husband and I are not big drinkers, but we certainly have alcohol in the home. When our oldest went to college (he is now 23) my husband and I were impressed that the kids seem to be more responsible about driving than we were at that age. Our younger son is 17 and we’ve talked about being responsible, not only for his own behavior but also in watching out for his friends. Incidentally, craft beer is not really what underage drinkers are after. For one thing, it is expensive. And the taste is better suited to a more mature palate. You just don’t hear about kids chugging $7 pints of beer.

Q What are some skills you developed as a litigator and as a legislative lawyer that are useful in leading an organization like the Guild? What advice would you give a lawyer transitioning from practice to leading an organization?

A In some ways my job with the Guild is similar to my days as Principal Clerk of the Indiana House of Representatives. Technically, I report directly to the Guild President, as I reported directly to the Speaker at the State House. But I have a broad constituency of owners and brewers with specific needs and objectives, just like my “100 bosses” at the House of Representatives. I learn a lot just by listening to my brewers and visiting them in their environment. As for advice, I’d tell lawyers considering a change to follow their hearts. A law degree should not constrain one’s choices. Instead, it should open doors. I know lawyers who have jumped tracks into education, NFP management, social services, lobbying and even brewing (of course!—who but lawyers would call their brewpub Black Acre?). I’ve never heard anyone express regret over time spent in the practice of law or a law school education.

Q How much more likely to have a beard are brewers compared with the general population?

A Someone should do a study on that! Wonder if there’s grant money… Off the top of my head, I’d guess the incidence of beards on brewers is second only to orthodox rabbis.

Q Can or bottle?

A Hot topic right now! Bottles are still way more common than cans for crafts, but can proponents (like Sun King, Great Crescent and newcomer Tin Man) are passionate about cans and say it keeps beer fresher.•

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  1. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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