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Incoming ISBA president sets communication at top of agenda

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Indiana Lawyer Focus

Jim Dimos was just out of law school and settling into his first job at an Indianapolis firm when he volunteered to help coach an inner-city youth football team.

Named the Falcons, the team bruised the gridiron during the Saturday dog-eat-dog games and ended up exceeding expectations by making the playoffs. Dimos, an offensive lineman in high school, ran the defense with a cool hand.

apb-jimdimos01-15col.jpg Jim Dimos (IL Photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Dan Lueders, partner at Woodard Emhardt Moriarty McNett & Henry LLP, was among the other volunteer coaches on the Falcons’ team. Recalling that 1987 season, Lueders remembered Dimos towering over the 5th- and 6th-grade boys and talking to them, explaining to them. He never yelled, he never used vague, abstract buzz words that confused the players, but rather he patiently helped them understand what they should do on the field.

“That just came naturally to Jim,” Lueders said.

Dimos, partner at Frost Brown Todd LLC, will once again be using those leadership and communication skills as he becomes the next president of the Indiana State Bar Association. He wants to lead by listening and engaging bar association members and non-members from around the state to not only tell them what the organization offers but also to hear what more the association can do.

Building on the initiatives started by outgoing ISBA president Dan Vinovich, Dimos has plans to strengthen and grow the state association of more than 12,000 members.

“It really is an honor to be selected to serve in this role and represent the association,” Dimos said. “I hope members, at the end of it, feel I met their expectations of what they look for in a state bar association president.”

Pedigree

Dimos will bring bar leadership experience to his presidency. He has been active in both the state and Indiana bar associations as well as the American Bar Association pretty much his entire professional career.

He was introduced to the bar associations as a young attorney. The culture at the former Locke Reynolds, now Frost Brown Todd, encouraged participation, with the firm paying the annual dues and senior partners inviting associates to bar lunches.

With that foundation, Dimos joined and actively participated. He rose in the Indianapolis Bar Association, eventually serving as president in 2001, and is currently a member of the ABA House of Delegates. The value he sees in belonging is the ability to interact with lawyers from different places, working on a variety of projects and helping to improve the legal system.

For the long hours and energy he has devoted to his volunteering, Dimos has received, as his wife said, “emotional compensation.”

“I feel better about what I do when I’m able to do something that helps the community at large,” he said.

Dimos will take the helm while the legal profession is undergoing fundamental changes. The disrupt caused by technology, the growing need for affordable legal help, the tight job market and the concern over law schools are among the issues drawing attention.

vinovich-dan-mug Vinovich

Certainly, as Indiana’s largest organization of attorneys, the ISBA has a prominent bully pulpit from which it can speak. However, Dimos cautioned the association has to use its voice in the appropriate manner. Members have different viewpoints, he said, and the ISBA has to be respectful of those.

The association’s collective voice will be guided by input from the sections and committees within the ISBA, he said. Substantive issues the smaller groups raise will be taken to larger groups in the ISBA to determine what position, if any, the organization should take.

One thing Dimos learned from his earlier turn at bar association leadership is that he does not always get to control the agenda. Much like a coach reacting to what is happening on the field, he said as Indy Bar president he would start his day by reading the newspaper to find out which judge, lawyer or columnist just changed his day.

John Maley, partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, saw Dimos’ style up close as the 2001 president-elect of the Indy Bar.

“Jim is the consummate bar leader and servant – local, state, and nationally,” Maley said. “He believes strongly in the virtues of lawyers and the legal profession, and has devoted thousands and thousands of hours through his distinguished career to serving the bar and promoting justice. Indiana will be well served with Jim leading the state bar.”

Three-year plan

When Vinovich became the ISBA president, he launched a three-year initiative that sought to strengthen the organization by improving member benefits, diversity and governance. The idea was that the plan will be carried forth by his successors, Dimos and Sullivan attorney Jeff Hawkins.

One-year initiatives that start and end with a single presidency are ineffective, Hawkins said. He believes Vinovich had a remarkable suggestion to coordinate the agenda among three leaders as a way to accomplish more.

Currently, the bar association has added free access to the online legal research provider, Casemaker, and a free ethics continuing legal education course for members. The total value per individual reaches $540, Vinovich said, and has helped increase the member rolls by 644.

To increase geographic diversity, the ISBA has enlisted video conferencing to enable members in the far reaches of the state to serve as chairs and vice chairs of the sections and committees, Vinovich said. Also, the association is considering adding two at-large seats to its board of governors.

Vinovich is confident Dimos will pick up the initiative and advance the ISBA even more. He described the incoming president as having a “very calm and level-headed demeanor” that makes him particularly suited to lead attorneys. Dimos, he said, lets everybody talk and then creates a consensus.

“I can’t wait to see what he does,” Vinovich said. “He’s really going to be good.”

Healthy conversations

Dimos wants to continue to reach out to attorneys and get them to join the association. The board of governors will be visiting Valparaiso, Notre Dame and Indiana University Maurer law schools and he plans to ask the district representatives to engage more with members and the local bar associations.

hawkins-jeff.jpg Hawkins

Mostly, he wants to talk with members. He wants to have healthy conversations where many different voices are heard and all opinions are respected. This, he said, will allow the association to accomplish good things.

Raising two daughters and one son, Dimos knows the conflicting needs and desires that can exist with a group. Achieving consensus in the ISBA will not be easy, he said, and it will not be created the way it sometimes is at home.

“I can’t at the end of the day say, ‘No, I’m sorry, I’m dad,’” Dimos said. “I don’t get that luxury nor do I want it.”

Practicing in a small town, Hawkins understands the necessity of bringing more attorneys into the ISBA, listening to what they say and giving them the resources they need. Communication, he said, is key to doing this.

Hawkins, the next ISBA president-elect, said Dimos is coming to the organization with a real passion for the organization and a lot of leadership experience. The incoming president, he said, has a desire to work together with members, promoting a free exchange of thoughts to keep the association percolating with fresh ideas.

“Jim is a big man in terms of physique and capability,” Hawkins said. “When I stand by him, I look up to him and not just because he’s well over 6 foot and I am not.”•
 

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

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  4. "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.

  5. 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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