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Justice finalists to students: Be careful on Facebook

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The three finalists to be the next justice on the Indiana Supreme Court offered advice to aspiring attorneys Thursday that included a caution about what they post on their Facebook pages and social networks.

Hamilton Superior Judge Steve Nation, Taft partner Geoffrey Slaughter and Tippecanoe Superior Judge Loretta Rush said they were required to provide their Facebook and social media user names and passwords as part of their vetting when they were interviewed by the Judicial Nominating Commission.

The three participated in an hour-long panel discussion at the IU McKinney School of Law attended by about 30 students. The forum was sponsored by the McKinney Office of Professional Development.

Each of the candidates talked about their experience in law and answered questions from OPD associate director Sean Southern and during a Q&A session with students.

Nation advised students to become active in practice as much as possible.

“I think you need to go ahead and see the law and see the practice of law and how it’s accomplished,” Nation said, noting that most people have a misunderstanding of how the judicial system works based on what they see in popular culture.

“You need to respect the other people in the system,” he said. “You’re there to resolve conflict for your clients, and sometimes that is not done by going to court.”

Rush told students that the relationships they make in law school will follow them through their careers, and that an attorney’s reputation is formed in large part by how she relates with others inside the system and out.

“Link yourself up with people you admire,” Rush advised. “You’re going to be dealing with these attorneys for a long time. … How you treat your fellow attorneys will stick with you.”

Rush encouraged students to view the online applications that she, Nation and Slaughter had to file to be considered for the Supreme Court vacancy. “Our whole past comes back,” she said. “Every little thing you do to make our profession look better helps.”

Slaughter said students should seek out opportunities to help those most in need and not to be driven solely by the desire to make money. “We have an obligation beyond simply pursuing our own interests and maximizing financial benefits only for ourselves,” he said.

“Billable hours and money are the lifeblood of a law firm,” he said, “but some of the most gratifying work for me has been pro bono.”

He quipped that his application allowed him to share about himself, “I’m a patron of lost athletic causes – I root for I.U. football and the Chicago Cubs.” He said he was advised, “that reflects a tremendous lack of judgment on my part.”

Slaughter, Rush and Nation encouraged students to take an active role in local bar associations and be active in their communities outside the legal profession.

The finalists each have been interviewed by Gov. Mitch Daniels to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Frank Sullivan, who began teaching at I.U. McKinney School of Law in the fall term. Daniels has until Oct. 16 to name a new justice, his third appointment to the court.

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