Indiana Pro Bono Commission

Attorney reaction spurs tweaks of pro bono reporting rule

January 28, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
During a January lunchtime meeting of the Elkhart City Bar Association, attorneys served a plateful of questions about the state’s new mandatory pro bono reporting rule and ladled on some skepticism.
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Supreme Court approves requirement for attorneys to report pro bono hours

September 8, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
Starting Jan. 1, 2015, Indiana attorneys will be required to report the number of hours they provide free legal assistance to indigent clients.
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Task force makes recommendations for pro bono reporting

July 14, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
As the Indiana Supreme Court continues to consider mandating all Indiana attorneys report the number of pro bono hours they work, a task force has proposed that the donated hours be disclosed publicly only in an aggregate form rather than identifying the number of pro bono hours performed by an individual or a firm.
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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 hit

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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  1. Call it unauthorized law if you must, a regulatory wrong, but it was fraud and theft well beyond that, a seeming crime! "In three specific cases, the hearing officer found that Westerfield did little to no work for her clients but only issued a partial refund or no refund at all." That is theft by deception, folks. "In its decision to suspend Westerfield, the Supreme Court noted that she already had a long disciplinary history dating back to 1996 and had previously been suspended in 2004 and indefinitely suspended in 2005. She was reinstated in 2009 after finally giving the commission a response to the grievance for which she was suspended in 2004." WOW -- was the Indiana Supreme Court complicit in her fraud? Talk about being on notice of a real bad actor .... "Further, the justices noted that during her testimony, Westerfield was “disingenuous and evasive” about her relationship with Tope and attempted to distance herself from him. They also wrote that other aggravating factors existed in Westerfield’s case, such as her lack of remorse." WOW, and yet she only got 18 months on the bench, and if she shows up and cries for them in a year and a half, and pays money to JLAP for group therapy ... back in to ride roughshod over hapless clients (or are they "marks") once again! Aint Hoosier lawyering a great money making adventure!!! Just live for the bucks, even if filthy lucre, and come out a-ok. ME on the other hand??? Lifetime banishment for blowing the whistle on unconstitutional governance. Yes, had I ripped off clients or had ANY disciplinary history for doing that I would have fared better, most likely, as that it would have revealed me motivated by Mammon and not Faith. Check it out if you doubt my reading of this, compare and contrast the above 18 months with my lifetime banishment from court, see appendix for Bar Examiners report which the ISC adopted without substantive review: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS

  2. Wow, over a quarter million dollars? That is a a lot of commissary money! Over what time frame? Years I would guess. Anyone ever try to blow the whistle? Probably not, since most Hoosiers who take notice of such things realize that Hoosier whistleblowers are almost always pilloried. If someone did blow the whistle, they were likely fired. The persecution of whistleblowers is a sure sign of far too much government corruption. Details of my own personal experience at the top of Hoosier governance available upon request ... maybe a "fake news" media outlet will have the courage to tell the stories of Hoosier whistleblowers that the "real" Hoosier media (cough) will not deign to touch. (They are part of the problem.)

  3. So if I am reading it right, only if and when African American college students agree to receive checks labeling them as "Negroes" do they receive aid from the UNCF or the Quaker's Educational Fund? In other words, to borrow from the Indiana Appellate Court, "the [nonprofit] supposed to be [their] advocate, refers to [students] in a racially offensive manner. While there is no evidence that [the nonprofits] intended harm to [African American students], the harm was nonetheless inflicted. [Black students are] presented to [academia and future employers] in a racially offensive manner. For these reasons, [such] performance [is] deficient and also prejudice[ial]." Maybe even DEPLORABLE???

  4. I'm the poor soul who spent over 10 years in prison with many many other prisoners trying to kill me for being charged with a sex offense THAT I DID NOT COMMIT i was in jail for a battery charge for helping a friend leave a boyfriend who beat her I've been saying for over 28 years that i did not and would never hurt a child like that mine or anybody's child but NOBODY wants to believe that i might not be guilty of this horrible crime or think that when i say that ALL the paperwork concerning my conviction has strangely DISAPPEARED or even when the long beach judge re-sentenced me over 14 months on a already filed plea bargain out of another districts court then had it filed under a fake name so i could not find while trying to fight my conviction on appeal in a nut shell people are ALWAYS quick to believe the worst about some one well I DID NOT HURT ANY CHILD EVER IN MY LIFE AND HAVE SAID THIS FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS please if anybody can me get some kind of justice it would be greatly appreciated respectfully written wrongly accused Brian Valenti

  5. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

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