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IndyBar: Civility. Courtesy. Respect. Professionalism.

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iba-getting-along-logoThese are words that should be synonymous with “Advocate” but in a world of high stakes, strong opinions, and a general, societal decline in basic manners, how can attorneys fight the good fight while living up to these ideals – especially if the other side doesn’t? We set out to find examples of lawyers who model the way while providing excellent representation.

Getting Along is Not Wrong, an initiative of the IndyBar Standing Committee on Professionalism, is the impressive collection of such positive and compelling behavior. Check out the debut entry below, and find new installments online at indybar.org/blog.

‘Winning’ by ‘Losing’

Hon. Steven H. David, Indiana Supreme Court


The Chronological Case Summary reads: “Pre-trial conference held to discuss Defendant’s Motion to Continue Trial. Discussion held. Counsel for Plaintiff strongly objects to the Continuance. Motion to Continue is granted over objection and matter is reset for a first-choice trial on…”

Want the rest of the story? The trial was set on a day that the defense counsel had longstanding plans to be on vacation. He made it clear in his motion that his vacation was the conflict and the reason for the Motion to Continue. The plaintiff was livid and wanted the case to proceed to trial on the day scheduled. The plaintiff’s counsel asked for a pre-trial conference to discuss the matter rather than filing a written objection to the Motion to Continuance. Respecting the defense counsel’s desire to go on vacation, she did not want to oppose the Motion to Continue, but her client demanded that she “fight it.” All of this was discussed during the telephoned pre-trial conference between counsel and the judge. The Chronological Case Summary set forth above was then issued.

The defense counsel got his continuance. The plaintiff’s counsel “lost” her objection but “won” enhanced respect of the opposing counsel and the court. The plaintiff, while not happy with the trial judge’s ruling, got to read the CCS entry and was at least happy with his attorney’s effort in “opposing” the motion. Oh, and by the way, while on the telephone, a new conflict-free date was set for the trial. It did go to trial and was one of the best-tried bench trials I ever presided over.

Getting along is not wrong. Professionalism and civility is good business.•

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  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

  4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

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