Indiana Pro Bono Commission

Fostering cooperation between Indiana legal service providers

November 20, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
The Indiana Supreme Court has formed a new commission to address the problem of Indiana residents who cannot afford legal services. But rather than giving attention to the clients, this group will focus on the nonprofit agencies that provide the assistance.
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Attorneys use pro bono tax work to fill the gap

March 27, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
Almost immediately after taking her seat on the Indiana Tax Court, Judge Martha Blood Wentworth saw the problem. Flowing into her court were numerous pro se litigants who ended up getting their cases bounced because they had made a procedural error.
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2012 Year in Review

January 2, 2013
IL Staff
2012 was another busy year for the legal community. We welcomed new justices and a new chief justice, witnessed the beginnings of the state’s fifth law school, and saw local stories garner national and international attention. Here’s a look back at the top news stories from last year.
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Too few pro bono attorneys in Indiana rural communities

November 7, 2012
Marilyn Odendahl
In response to the low numbers, the Indiana Bar Foundation is launching a legal assistance website to help low-income Hoosiers.
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Wentworth, Avery appointed to Pro Bono Commission

September 17, 2012
Jennifer Nelson
Indiana Tax Judge Martha Blood Wentworth has been appointed by the Indiana Supreme Court as chair of the Indiana Pro Bono Commission. Allen Superior Judge David Avery has been appointed vice-chair, the Supreme Court announced Monday.
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Pro Bono Commission chair sees dramatic drop in funding during term

May 23, 2012
Dave Stafford
Colleagues say Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Melissa May's selflessness and volunteer spirit made her ideally suited for the position.
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Bill would increase funds for pro bono districts

January 18, 2012
Jenny Montgomery
The modest filing fee could help offset declining IOLTA funds.
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Restructuring revises coverage area for some pro bono offices

January 4, 2012
Jenny Montgomery
As of Jan. 1, Indiana has 12 pro bono districts, down from 14. Some districts saw no change in their boundaries. But all saw a sharp decrease in funding from the year before, marking the third straight year of declining funds.
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Funding less for legal aid offices

December 21, 2011
Jenny Montgomery
The groups will tap reserves in 2012 as their budgets decrease.
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Pro bono award winners announced

October 4, 2011
IL Staff
An attorney who made significant contributions in pro bono service will receive a posthumous honor on Oct. 21.
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Supreme Court amends state rules for courts, attorneys

September 23, 2011
Michael Hoskins
Multiple new rule changes will begin next year for the state’s court system, which were announced in a slew of Indiana Supreme Court orders released earlier in the week.
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Pro Bono Commission receives cy pres award

June 9, 2011
IL Staff
The Indiana Pro Bono Commission has received an award for the benefit of its districts that comes from a class-action lawsuit.
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Pro bono districts hire new plan administrators

February 2, 2011
Rebecca Berfanger
With almost half of the pro bono districts losing plan administrators since mid-2009, it is not going to be an easy job to replace the institutional knowledge of the outgoing plan administrators. Districts 2, 3, 6, 9, 11, and most recently 7 have been forced to tackle that task.
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Talk to a Lawyer Today includes 3 dozen sites

January 17, 2011
Rebecca Berfanger
While many attorneys get a day off of work today because courts, government offices, banks, and many businesses are closed to honor the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., more than 200 lawyers have volunteered to spend two hours answering legal questions from the public as part of the Indiana State Bar Association’s 10th annual Talk to a Lawyer Today event.
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Talk to a Lawyer Today event seeks volunteers

January 6, 2011
Rebecca Berfanger
The annual Talk to a Lawyer Today event will take place on Jan. 17 at locations around the state. While the free CLE opportunities took place in late 2010, volunteers who want to participate may do so if they didn’t attend the CLE.
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Indiana pro bono districts take a hitRestricted Content

December 22, 2010
Rebecca Berfanger
While low interest rates can be a good thing for those looking to take out loans to buy a home, a car, or to refinance, they mean nothing but headaches and heartaches for organizations that depend on the dollars generated, such as legal aid organizations that rely on funds from Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts.
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Free CLE offered for pro bono volunteers

December 7, 2010
Rebecca Berfanger
Bar associations and pro bono districts are working together to encourage attorneys to sign up to participate in the annual statewide Talk to a Lawyer Today event taking place Jan. 17, 2011. Free CLE, which is offered in December and January to lawyers who volunteer their time with TTALT but is not required to participate in the event, is a video replay of a CLE that originally took place in Indianapolis in October.
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IBF receives $100k; shares 2011 budget

October 27, 2010
Rebecca Berfanger
Following the unexpected gift from the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum’s governing board of $100,000 to the Indiana Bar Foundation on Oct. 15, leadership for IBF said it is unlikely the foundation will give all of that money to the pro bono districts.
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ICLEF gives $100,000 to Indiana Bar Foundation

October 15, 2010
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum’s governing board is giving $100,000 to the Indiana Bar Foundation, which is struggling financially because of low interest rates that have hit IOLTA accounts and created problems in funding pro bono and related programs statewide.
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ISBA Business Law Section helps nonprofits

September 29, 2010
Rebecca Berfanger
While many attorneys may want to do pro bono work, not all of them are comfortable taking on what could end up being a lengthy and possibly complicated family law case, which is the majority of cases the pro bono districts around the state tend to handle.
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IBF announces pro bono award winners

September 15, 2010
IL Staff
Ralph Adams, the former staff attorney and director of Legal Services of Maumee Valley, will receive this year’s Randall T. Shepard Award for excellence in pro bono service. He, along with other recipients of pro bono awards, will be honored at the Shepard Award Dinner in October.
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Tippecanoe County judge recognized for access to justice work

September 15, 2010
IL Staff
Tippecanoe Superior Judge Gregory J. Donat is the 2010 recipient of the American Judicature Society’s Kathleen M. Sampson Access to Justice Award. Judge Donat has worked to improve access to justice for everyone.
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Nominees sought for pro bono Shepard award

June 8, 2010
IL Staff
The Indiana Pro Bono Commission is seeking nominees for the Excellence in Pro Bono Publico Randall T. Shepard Award.
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Predicting IOLTA fund revenuesRestricted Content

May 26, 2010
Rebecca Berfanger
All that is known about funding for Indiana’s 14 pro bono districts is that no one yet knows exactly how much the districts will receive in October for their 2011 budgets.
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New foreclosure-prevention initiative announced

April 20, 2010
Rebecca Berfanger
To encourage more eligible Hoosiers to participate in settlement conferences when facing mortgage foreclosures, a new program involving the Indiana Supreme Court and the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network was announced today in Fort Wayne.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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