IBA: The Bar Leader Series Journey: Facing the Community's Challenges Head On

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morrissey Morrissey

As members of the Indianapolis bar and aspiring leaders, it is incumbent upon our group, the Bar Leader Series Class X, to work to understand important challenges facing our community and to contribute to the public discourse. For some of us, we will be further charged with addressing these challenges head on throughout the course of our career.

To that end, we took the opportunity to hear about these various challenges “straight from the horse’s mouth” at the November session of the Bar Leader Series. This session gave us the chance to delve into significant challenges in the community, with the discussion highlighted by speakers who personally spoke to the spectrum of issues and opportunities facing Indianapolis and the State of Indiana.

First, our group hosted Marilyn Schultz, a former state legislator and budget director for the State of Indiana. Ms. Schultz has been involved in Indiana politics for some time, getting her start with a campaign for state Senate in 1972. She shared with us the various challenges she faced as a woman in leadership at that time, including a mention of an instance of litigation involving a well-known downtown club located on the circle. Ms. Schultz disagreed with that club’s membership requirements and would not accept being “shown the door” simply because she was a woman. Frankly, listening to her experiences facing discrimination reminded me of how far we have come, but also it caused me to reflect on some of the groups, including women, who still are pushing towards truly equal treatment. Again, this illustrates how BLS offers unique experiences to interact with trailblazers from throughout our society.

It was particularly interesting to hear the sundry ways politics have shifted since that time. Ms. Schultz made it clear that the collegial atmosphere of state politics has largely vanished and politicians work less in the “gray areas” of compromise than during her time. She suggested that the oversaturation of media attention has altered the landscape of state and local politics, focusing less on understanding the commonalities of the parties and more on the divide. Reflecting on this, I found it difficult to remember a time before the 24 hours news cycle and the “us” versus “them” posture of many news outlets. This discussion provided useful context for me in considering how our elected leaders deal with issues facing our Indianapolis community in the Internet age.

We next discussed the very tragic and very real problem of human trafficking with Abby Kuzma of the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. I think I can speak for the group when I say this was an eye-opening lecture about a challenge that goes largely unnoticed in many circles within our community. In fact, because of the Super Bowl and other large-scale sporting events, our community is particularly susceptible to an influx of human trafficking victims. These numbers are exacerbated because Indianapolis is a transportation crossroads. It is difficult to imagine the prevalence of such appalling crimes taking place in the shadows of our city.

We then moved on to the prospective issues concerning light rail and transportation infrastructure in Indianapolis with Ronald Gifford of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, while Dale Chu of the Indiana Department of Education shared details on the reforms to our State’s education system that are currently being considered and implemented. Both of these issues touch on two fundamental challenges Indianapolis faces: how to educate and train people so we can develop a qualified workforce to attract economic growth and stability; and, once we develop economic growth, how to ensure Indianapolis and the surrounding communities have an efficient and reliable transportation infrastructure to support and promote further that growth.

Such a discussion boils down the challenges facing our community to their essence. Indianapolis has experienced remarkable positive change in the last few decades. Just ask anyone living or working downtown fifteen years ago. It was these speakers and many like them that have spurred these changes and confronted our challenges. It was our privilege to share this time with each of them and learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing Indianapolis today.•


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.