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IMS attorney excels in fast-paced work environment

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Susan Rivas enjoys the sound of cars zipping around the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Her office window overlooks the back of the grandstand, about 100 feet away, where workers are busy readying the stands for thousands of visitors.

This is an exciting and busy time of year for Rivas, who joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp. as corporate counsel and senior director of legal affairs last September. In her role, she provides legal services for IMSC and all of Hulman & Co., including INDYCAR, Clabber Girl, IMS Productions and INDYCAR Entertainment.
 

il-ims-counsel01-15col.jpg Susan Rivas (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“I was a partner for 13 years at Ice Miller, and I did work from time to time for the Speedway and also for the Clabber Girl Corp. and worked closely with Gretchen (Snelling), the general counsel, when she was at Ice

Miller. So I would say it was a little bit of a dream job, based upon a longtime association,” Rivas said.

“The days go really fast. The people I work with are tremendous – we laugh a lot, and we work cooperatively; it’s really a lot of fun,” she said.

Small staff, big job

IMSC’s legal department is comprised of one paralegal, one administrative assistant and two lawyers – Rivas and Snelling, IMS vice president and chief legal counsel. Ice Miller handles litigation for the corporation.

Rivas said that having such a small staff means everyone must share responsibilities to get the work done. And Rivas is typically the last set of eyes on a contract.

“My specific job involves review of a lot of contracts because – especially at this time of year – we just do a tremendous amount of contracts, and I’m the last person that has to sign off, unless it’s something that the general counsel gets involved in,” Rivas said. “So I consider my job to be making sure that contracts are right, and also that they’re done quickly.”

The staff is always looking for ways to streamline processes and boost efficiency.

“The legal profession is lagging behind the world in efficiency. When you have to sit down and draft an agreement, it’s a consumer of time, and the business is moving on very quickly. So we’re struggling always to be more efficient and give better service to our clients,” Rivas said.

Variety and challenge

Rivas has been a business lawyer her entire career. She developed Ice Miller’s antitrust investigation, regulatory and counseling practice and advised DowElanco (now Dow AgroSciences) on joint ventures, acquisitions and other corporate issues. This broad experience serves her well in her job at IMSC.

“I think most people view us as a place where you hold races, but there’s a huge entertainment side to it that’s just like any other entertainment business, in that we have suites, we have concerts here, we sell alcohol, we sell food … so there’s just a tremendous variety of legal work to be done.”

Rivas said she’s still learning about some specific racing law issues, and she enjoys the challenge of learning something new and different. She’s also keenly aware of the potential for liability.

“It’s very specialized in racing – the risks are severe – and you have to be completely on top of it with insurance and releases. Really, letting people come on the property is a big deal,” she said.

When Rivas isn’t working, the former English major tries to find time for reading, exercising and riding her bike. She also enjoys traveling with her daughter, who attends college out-of-state, and son, who is a senior in high school. The family recently took a trip to France.

Snelling is glad to have Rivas on staff.

“I am so pleased that Susan joined us,” Snelling said. “Her skill and expertise have had an immediate and positive impact on our business. She has deep knowledge of many areas of law and provides very practical advice and innovative solutions to our family of companies.”•
 

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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