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IndyBar: Bar Leaders Impact Community Through Class XI Service Projects

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By Kevin Morrisey, Lewis & Kappes PC

A core aspect of the IndyBar Bar Leader Series is the development and execution of a community service team projects by series participants. This facet of the program gives participants a unique opportunity to take community engagement a step further by putting the knowledge and skills that they’ve learned in the series to practical use for the benefit of the community.

The 25 members of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series Class XI have split into five teams to perform these community service projects throughout the Indianapolis community. The teams kicked off the projects with a creative exercise to explore their common interests and to identify the topics or organizations for their service projects during the class retreat in September. This year, the groups chose Elder Law, Education, Kids, Animals, and Mental Health as the categories for their projects. The teams then performed research to identify specific issues and challenges within each of these broad categories to narrow the scope of their efforts. The groups have since developed specific proposals and are well on their way to executing them prior to graduation from BLS XI in May.

iba-BLSretreat.jpg Members of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series Class XI.

The Elder Law Team seeks to facilitate access to nutritional food for low-income seniors. Specifically, this team is working to create a user-friendly electronic “calculator” to ensure that seniors who can qualify for food stamp benefits (SNAP) are enrolled in the program and are maximizing their benefits. The need for screening tools was identified by this team during their research and discussions with Elders at the Table Coalition and CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions. The electronic calculator will be distributed throughout agencies that serve seniors in the community. A paper version of the calculator will also be distributed as the team learned many of those affected do not have access to the Internet. The Team will work with these agencies to train their staff to assist the elderly with the using the calculator. Finally, the Elder Law Team will hold a volunteer event for BLS XI to support a local food pantry or agency that serves seniors.

The Education Team is focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education. Through their research, the Team discovered that a growing number of jobs are being developed in this area, but schools have difficulty training and preparing students for these fields. This Team has developed a Speaker Series along with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) College Preparatory School in Indianapolis to host a several speakers from STEM fields. Thirty to 40 KIPP Students will complete an application, including a resume, to enroll in the program. Each session will focus on different STEM fields and will be designed to encourage students to think about ideas and actions they can take to overcome some of the obstacles or limitations they face in embarking on careers in STEM areas. Scholarships will be given to two students from the program based on a resume and personal essay, implementing skills they have learned through the program.

The Kids Team will raise awareness of the Indiana Lifeline Law that was adopted in July 2012 by holding a poster contest at Butler University. The law provides immunity for crimes related to underage drinking and public intoxication for individuals who reveal themselves to law enforcement while seeking medical assistance for a person suffering from an alcohol-related health emergency, which should hopefully encourage young Hoosiers to take action that could save the life of someone in need. The Kids Team will sponsor the poster contest at Butler University and promote the same via various on-campus promotions and speaking opportunities. Ultimately, the Kids Team envisions duplication of this project at other colleges and universities throughout Indiana.

The Animal Team has identified education on responsible pet ownership, including pet adoption, spay/neutering, and pet care, as their focus. This Team will hold an educational community event in conjunction with a pet adoption drive with the Hamilton County Humane Society (HCHS) on Sunday, March 2, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Great Frame Up, located at 21 1st St. SW in Carmel. The community event will include educational booths for young children with age-appropriate activities, a supply drive to benefit HCHS, booths featuring local dog trainers and therapy dogs, and a themed pet adoption drive (“the Pet Academy Awards”).

The Mental Health Team will partner with Midtown Community Mental Health to expand their Glad Tidings Card Shop project. The Card Shop is an art-therapy based treatment program for Midtown’s clients where the clients create hand-made greeting cards. The program is located in one of Midtown’s largest community mental health centers and serves clients with severe chronic mental illnesses. The cards help Midtown clients develop vocational skills, fine motor and cognitive skills, and general art therapy. The Mental Health Team seeks to host First Friday booths to display and market the Glad Tidings Cards at various locations including the Winter Farmers Market. The Team is also exploring options to display the cards at art fairs like the Talbot Street Art Fair in June. Finally, the Mental Health Team is working to develop materials to assist lawyers when working with clients and individuals who have mental illness and to help them in identifying and addressing mental health issues when necessary.

Now in its 11th iteration, the Bar Leader Series has facilitated a number of service projects touching a wide variety of issues and challenges facing our community. Not only are these projects a valuable component of the curriculum for the Bar Leader Series, but they are also a great way for the Indianapolis Bar Association to give back to the community in a non-legal way. Please keep an eye out for the events described in each project as there may be opportunities for all members of the Indianapolis Bar Association to contribute or participate at each. We thank the 25 individuals in the current Bar Leader Series for their efforts and wish them the best of luck in completing their goals for each project.•

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  1. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  2. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  3. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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