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ITLA chief seeks bridge between young and veteran lawyers

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Indiana Lawyer Focus

Fresh out of high school, Mark Scott landed a job in a law firm. His primary task was to sift through all of the files – dating back to the 1940s – housed in the upstairs storeroom.

“As you can imagine, it wasn’t exactly scintillating work, so I decided I’d read everything. I read everything, and I was just enthralled,” Scott said. “I was just a gopher there, making $4.25 an hour, and I’d spend sometimes a day at a copy machine making copies, pulling vines off a building. I’ve done every job in a law firm, from mopping the floors to running a firm,” he said.

scott Scott

Scott has come a long way since then. In May, the Kokomo personal injury attorney began his tenure as president of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association.

His agenda

Scott said one of his initiatives as president will be to bridge the gap between the established, veteran members of the ITLA and young lawyers.

“We’ve been really blessed with an active young lawyers section, and obviously young lawyers are our future for the ITLA and for the bar association as a whole, so we want to continue to reach out to young lawyers … and identify those people who are qualified for leadership positions,” he said.

Scott, at age 46, might be the youngest president of ITLA. Micki Wilson, ITLA executive director, said he’s the youngest president since she took the helm in 1978. Scott remembers feeling a bit intimidated in the presence of seasoned lawyers when he was new to the profession, and he thinks veteran lawyers have a lot to offer young attorneys.

“We don’t graduate from law school and become successful trial lawyers; it’s a process that happens over the course of many years, and like everything else, it’s a trial-and-error experience,” he said. “As senior members, we’ve already been down that road; our ability to reach out and help young lawyers avoid some of those pitfalls is critical to their success.”

Another priority for Scott is striving for diversity in the ITLA and becoming a regional go-to source for continuing legal education seminars like the one ITLA hosted last year.

“Last summer, we were the first sponsor of a regional CLE for trial lawyers here in the Midwest and contiguous states,” Scott said. The ITLA worked with other trial lawyers’ associations to bring nationally known trial lawyer and author Rick Friedman to Indiana for a two-day seminar.

Scott also wants to look at the technological infrastructure of the ITLA and make sure that it has the equipment and capabilities to perform tasks efficiently. Along those lines, he’d like to identify ways for the website to be more interactive, allowing for online dues and CLE payment.

Lessons learned

Asked what he has learned from past ITLA presidents, Scott laughed heartily and said, “The goals a president sets for himself at the beginning of his or her term often go quickly awry.”

He explained that any number of unexpected developments can derail plans.

“It is a fluid process, and we don’t know what’s coming down the pike in the General Assembly, a decision from the (Indiana) Court of Appeals or Supreme Court … obviously when a decision like Stanley v. Walker comes down, that has a wide impact on our members and the people we represent,” he said. Scott, who was chair of the ITLA’s Amicus Curiae Committee from 2005 until January 2012, wrote amicus briefs in Stanley v. Walker. In that case, the injured party – Danny Walker – had introduced his original medical bills totaling $11,570, but as a result of negotiations between Walker’s health insurance company and medical insurance providers, the total was reduced by $4,750. While the trial court held that Walker did not have to show the discounted amount, the Indiana Supreme Court remanded for a reduction of Walker’s damages, in the amount of $4,750.

Lonnie Johnson, president of the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana, sees a promising young leader in Scott.

“ITLA has a long tradition of selecting presidents respected by all members of the bar and dedicated to civility and maintaining the integrity of our shared legal system, and consistent with this tradition, Mark Scott is well known and respected by all members of the bar,” Johnson said.

Scott is an avid fisherman who enjoys writing poetry and playing drums. “I am the poster child for a liberal arts education,” he said.

He earned his law degree at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law after graduating from Wabash College.

Scott said neither of his parents attended college, nor could they afford to send him to Wabash. So he applied for and received a Lilly Scholarship – an award that covers tuition and room and board for four years at Wabash – and this year it is estimated to have a value of $170,000. Because of the opportunities that scholarship created for him, Scott said he has enjoyed helping to review applications for the Lilly award. “It’s a tremendously uplifting experience,” he said.•

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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