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Indiana women trial lawyers preparing for Congressional push

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chips-sidebar-051717-15col.jpg Indiana attorneys (from left) Betsy Greene, Mary Beth Ramey, Andrea Hailey and Kathy Farinas meet with federal legislators in 2015. (Photo courtsey of Betsy Greene)

A contingent of Indiana female trial lawyers will head to Washington, D.C., this month to participate in the 20th anniversary of the American Association for Justice Women Trial Lawyers Caucus lobby day.

They will spend May 25 on Capitol Hill, talking to Indiana representatives and senators about issues and legislation that impact plaintiffs and their access to the courthouse. More than 100 women trial lawyers from around the country will be part of the effort, lobbying the Congressional delegations from their own states and raising the profile of female attorneys.

“It’s really opened my eyes to how our government works, and it’s given me a little bit of hope that in these bleak times, our voices can be heard,” said Kathy Farinas, partner at George & Farinas LLP in Indianapolis.

Farinas has participated in lobby days twice before. She will join about five other Indiana attorneys, including Betsy Greene, who has made the trip to Congress 16 times, and Lynn Toops, who will be attending for the first time.

The activity and influence of the women’s caucus are in stark contrast to the group that was present when Greene, partner at Greene & Schultz in Bloomington, joined the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association in 1989. Then it was the women’s auxiliary, primarily for the spouses of the attorney members.

She was just beginning to build her career as a trial lawyer and wanted to be seen as one of the guys, so she avoided any group with the word “female” in its title. Looking back, she said that approach was a little misguided.

Since she has become involved with the women’s caucus, Greene has seen the group grow and gain clout in the larger organization. The caucus has raised money, undertaken service projects and groomed women for leadership positions in the ITLA.

Also, it has provided a place where women trial lawyers can network and support each other as many of them share the daily juggling of work and family responsibilities. Toops, a partner at Cohen & Malad LLP in Indianapolis, joined the caucus to connect with women attorneys she credits with inspiring her to participate in lobby day.

The women’s caucus will convene May 24 to prep for the lobbying effort. They will review the agenda set by the AAJ and their talking points on each item as well as engage in some mock lobbying sessions. Once on Capitol Hill, the women will have a full schedule, moving from building to building to meet either with the legislators or their staff members.

Some of the meetings can be perfunctory when the congressional member supports tort reform, but Greene believes just by talking, the women attorneys can break the stereotype many elected officials may have of trial lawyers. The perception that plaintiff attorneys file frivolous lawsuits, hinder businesses and are only trying to make money can change when the women arrive to discuss the issues.

“I feel like it’s worth doing,” Greene said of lobby day. “I think we’re having an impact.”•

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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