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ITLA Institute hits a big milestone

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Indiana Lawyer Focus

What can a comedian teach an attorney?

Plenty, said Wabash attorney Emily Guenin-Hodson. Comedians have to think on their feet, improvise through unexpected occurrences that can happen while on stage, and always keep the audience focused on the matter at hand.

So it made sense when she was planning the agenda for the Indiana Trial Lawyer Association’s conference in November to include a stand-up comic who also happens to be an attorney, Joseph Novick.

He is “one of the more unusual speakers,” Guenin-Hodson conceded, but she is confident his presentation will rejuvenate and refresh the Hoosier attorneys.

guenin-hodson-emily.jpg Guenin-Hodson

Guenin-Hodson is the chairperson for the 50th annual ITLA Institute. The two-day conference in Indianapolis will bring nationally known speakers from inside and outside the legal profession to offer new ideas and spark inspiration. An estimated 300 trial lawyers are expected to attend.

For the milestone anniversary, Guenin-Hodson wanted the institute to remind plaintiffs’ attorneys why they should be proud of their profession. She has attended the yearly conferences for 10 years and always leaves inspired.

“When I walk away, I’m excited about being a plaintiff’s attorney,” Guenin-Hodson said. “I wanted to have people leaving feeling like ‘I’m glad I do what I do.’”

The institute provides the opportunity to connect with other trial lawyers from across the state to share stories, swap strategies and get their batteries recharged. Many plaintiff attorneys are solo practitioners or work for very small firms, so the chance to socialize with like-minded professionals is particularly welcomed.

ladendorf Ladendorf

Most important, the institute offers seminars on topics vital for trial lawyers. Institutes in the past have sometimes focused on specific practice areas like medical malpractice or construction law. But for the 50th event, Guenin-Hodson wanted to cover a broader range of subject matter that all plaintiff litigators deal with when going to trial.

Seminar topics for this year’s institute will include changes in state law and advances in technology as well as nuts-and-bolts courtroom techniques. Speakers include Kevin McGoff of Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP who will present on ethics, and Richard Ebbinghouse of Ebbinghouse Law Group who will discuss tax issues that trial lawyers face.

Education is important because the law is not static, said Kokomo attorney Mark Scott. He has been a member of ITLA for 21 years and recently completed a decade of serving in leadership positions, which culminated in 2012 with the presidency.

Ladendorf Scott believes trial lawyers in particular have to constantly examine the way they practice because tort law is one of the most dynamic areas of legal practice. Keeping abreast of new practice methods and technology is critical.

Echoing Scott, Guenin-Hodson said even though trial lawyers take depositions, make arguments and examine witnesses as a regular part of their job, getting a refresher course is beneficial. From the opening statement to the closing argument, trial lawyers are telling their client’s story and lawyers can improve their skills by being reminded of best practices or introduced to new techniques.

In addition to focusing on traditional lawyering skills, the 50th Annual Institute will take a look at visual and demonstrative aides. Guenin-Hodson noted although attorneys rely on words to convey their point, a picture can instantly give the same message to a jury. The seminar will examine the technology that is available and how it can be used.

Learning happens not just during the seminars but also between sessions while talking to colleagues. Both Guenin-Hodson and Mark Ladendorf, past ILTA president, pointed out they can get practice tips and advice just through casual conversations with other trial lawyers.

“There’s always something that comes up where you say, ‘Wow, I didn’t think of that,” Ladendorf said.

The first seminar kicking off the institute will focus on Guenin-Hodson’s theme: why trial lawyers should be proud of their profession.

Guenin-Hodson became a trial lawyer because of her father, attorney Mark Guenin, and is now in private practice with him.

“He’s a role model for me,” she said. “I really admire the work he does. Growing up seeing the difference he made in people’s lives, that’s what I wanted to do.”

scott-mark1.jpg Scott

Being a plaintiff attorney, she explained, can be sad work because every client has been harmed in some way. Advocating for individuals who have been hurt or lost a family member to negligence can wear on trial lawyers.

The attorneys, she continued, want to fix the situation but they can only do so much. Still, Guenin-Hodson wants her colleagues to be proud of their work and the things they do to make their clients’ lives better.

Many attorneys see the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association as a key player in helping them represent their clients. Along with providing seminars, the association gives trial lawyers a voice to speak out on issues as well as proposed legislation in the Statehouse.

The association’s main role, said Ladendorf, is to make sure the jury system continues.

“ITLA’s mission is to safeguard the right to trial by jury and protect the rights of the citizens of Indiana,” Ladendorf said. “Our purpose and challenge is to ensure that injured individuals have redress in Indiana courts and that wealth and power do not determine one’s access to civil justice. Our fight continues at every level of government and through education of the citizens at large.”

Scott sees that purpose woven into the fabric of ITLA, noting that some of the attorneys who have led the association have been champions of the civil justice system in Indiana. The association’s annual institutes began in 1965 in the moot court room of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and as the conferences continue to be held, Scott said he will be a part of history in a small way.

“The 50th Annual Institute to me,” he said, “is an opportunity to reflect on being part of something bigger than myself.”•

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  1. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  2. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

  3. Low energy. Next!

  4. Had William Pryor made such provocative statements as a candidate for the Indiana bar he could have been blackballed as I have documented elsewhere on this ezine. That would have solved this huuuge problem for the Left and abortion industry the good old boy (and even girl) Indiana way. Note that Diane Sykes could have made a huuge difference, but she chose to look away like most all jurists who should certainly recognize a blatantly unconstitutional system when filed on their docket. See footnotes 1 & 2 here: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html Sykes and Kanne could have applied a well established exception to Rooker Feldman, but instead seemingly decided that was not available to conservative whistleblowers, it would seem. Just a loss and two nice footnotes to numb the pain. A few short years later Sykes ruled the very opposite on the RF question, just as she had ruled the very opposite on RF a few short years before. Indy and the abortion industry wanted me on the ground ... they got it. Thank God Alabama is not so corrupted! MAGA!!!

  5. OK, take notice. Those wondering just how corrupt the Indiana system is can see the picture in this post. Attorney Donald James did not criticize any judges, he merely, it would seem, caused some clients to file against him and then ignored his own defense. James thus disrespected the system via ignoring all and was also ordered to reimburse the commission $525.88 for the costs of prosecuting the first case against him. Yes, nearly $526 for all the costs, the state having proved it all. Ouch, right? Now consider whistleblower and constitutionalist and citizen journalist Paul Ogden who criticized a judge, defended himself in such a professional fashion as to have half the case against him thrown out by the ISC and was then handed a career ending $10,000 bill as "half the costs" of the state crucifying him. http://www.theindianalawyer.com/ogden-quitting-law-citing-high-disciplinary-fine/PARAMS/article/35323 THE TAKEAWAY MESSAGE for any who have ears to hear ... resist Star Chamber and pay with your career ... welcome to the Indiana system of (cough) justice.

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