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Kimbrough Bar serves NW Indiana

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Bar Crawl

Shelice R. Tolbert, a partner at the Crown Point office of Kopka Pinkus Dolin & Eads, was sworn in as president of the James C. Kimbrough Bar Association by a longtime bar association supporter and member, Indiana Supreme Court Justice Robert D. Rucker, who has personal and professional ties to northwest Indiana.

She replaces Trent A. McCain, principal of McCain Law Offices in Merrillville, as head of the association with a historically African-American membership. Her term will last until April 30, 2011. Her husband, Michael Tolbert, is a past president of the organization.

Justice Rucker also swore in vice president Alger V. Boswell III of The Boswell Law Office in Hammond; secretary Joann M. Price of The Law Offices of Joann M. Price in Merrillville; and treasurer Barbara A. Bolling of the Law Office of Barbara Bolling in Gary.

Tolbert said while the organization never went away completely, the involvement of members, the group’s community work, and its visibility among non-members has been increasing in recent years. One of her goals is not only to get more young members to join, whether that’s working with Valparaiso University School of Law – which many members have ties to, including Justice Rucker – reaching out to younger members in the area’s legal community, or even reaching out to more experienced members who aren’t as active as they once were.

She said they also welcome Chicago attorneys who have ties to the area and want to remain active in networking with northwest Indiana lawyers. She said membership is also encouraged for Valparaiso students and recent grads who’ve considered moving to Chicago.

Tolbert said she and past leaders have helped the organization to become more involved with the Indiana State Bar Association, as well as bar associations in the area and the state’s other historically African-American bar association, the Marion County Bar Association in Indianapolis.

In June, members of the Kimbrough Bar Association were invited to the ISBA’s Solo and Small Firm Conference in Merrillville, and many attended the annual diversity dinner. In January 2011, the organization will host an ISBA president for the third time with a reception.

That event is open to members, law students, and leaders of other bar associations in the area, including the Lake County Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association, and the Hispanic Bar Association.

Past ISBA president R. William Jonas and current president Roderick Morgan have both attended receptions hosted by the Kimbrough Bar Association. Tolbert said she expects ISBA president-elect Jeffrey Lind, who will become president in October, to also attend a reception for him and others in January.

The organization will also continue community service, she said.

Members participate in Law Day activities at area high schools, as well as Operation LIFT – Lawyers Intercepting Family Trouble. Past projects have included donations directly to families and the Red Cross following floods in the area. The group also collects food and grocery store gift cards to provide to local churches during the holidays.

For those looking to get involved, Tolbert said they can contact her at srtolbert@kopkalaw.com or (219) 794-1888.

As far as taking over the role her husband had a couple terms ago?

“He tries to stand back and let me do things on my own, but he will give me tips and advice if I ask him,” she said. “He’s always been willing to step up any time we need him to.”•

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Bar Crawl is Indiana Lawyer’s new section that will highlight bar association news around the state. We try to include bar association news and trends in our regular stories, but we want to include more news from specialty and county bars. If you’d like to submit an update about your bar association or a photo from an event your bar association has hosted to Indiana Lawyer, or if you have questions about having your bar association news included in the newspaper, please send it to Rebecca Berfanger, rberfanger@ibj.com, along with contact information for any follow up questions at least two weeks in advance of the issue date.

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