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Ladendorf takes helm as ITLA president

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Mark Ladendorf is a small-firm attorney who’s never shied away from taking the big cases. The Indianapolis personal-injury lawyer leads Ladendorf & Ladendorf, a practice of five attorneys – three of them in the family.

Ladendorf recently was named president of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association for 2013-2014. Here’s what he had to say in a recent Q&A with Indiana Lawyer, touching on the personal and the professional.

Q. Taking office as president of Indiana Trial Lawyers Association in May and serving until next April, what would you like members to know about you?

il-mark-ladendorf01-15col.jpg New Indiana Trial Lawyers Association President Mark Ladendorf of Ladendorf & Ladendorf takes great pride in serving those who need representation when the odds are stacked against them. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

A. Born and raised in Hammond, Ind., the oldest of four children, I learned the value of hard work at an early age. My first jobs included the steel mills, a chemical plant, a railroad yard and working as a mechanic’s assistant at a diesel trucking garage. These blue-collar endeavors gave me real-world experiences in the various walks of life that would be forthcoming. Most importantly, they taught me the value of a higher education and what it would mean in my future.

Q. What are some major practice concerns for trial lawyers that you’ll talk about during your term as president?

A. I view my role as a facilitator for the growth of the ITLA in the many endeavors in which we already partake. Our outreach includes legislative, administrative, PAC, interaction with the judiciary, fundraising, CLE seminars and social events. All of these efforts are undertaken with the promotion of a strong civil justice system in mind. With the pervasive overview of the ITLA in the many aspects of the legal profession, I will attempt to balance many roles and bring my 33 years of legal experience to the table.

I feel fortunate to serve my administration under the guidance of Micki Wilson, Jason Bell, Lindsay Meyer and Bridget Gross as well as the executive committee who steer this great organization.

Q. If you had to give a brief “State of the ITLA” address, what would you say?

A. The practice of law is ever-changing: dynamic, creative, far-reaching and something that never rests. We must address the issues at hand to make sure we are doing the right thing for our clients and the citizens of Indiana. We have been given great responsibility in society to right the wrongs that are so easily inflicted on those who need us most.

Q. What is your favorite thing about being a trial lawyer?

A. I take great pride in being a trial lawyer, not for myself, but for being able to serve others who seek representation when the odds are stacked against them. Not that I have a “Robin Hood” persona, but it is always gratifying to assist someone who needs you most, especially against some of our society’s most powerful interests.

Q. We see that your son Lance joined Ladendorf & Ladendorf not too long ago, and you also work alongside your brother Dan. What’s that dynamic like?

A. Having Lance and “Uncle Dan” with me has been a blessing and a challenge. Dan is extremely competent and creative in the law and legislative endeavors, and Lance has a keen insight into the kind of lawyer he wants to become. The future looks bright.

Q. Staying with family for a moment, what in your mind is the difference between fatherly advice and legal advice?

A. Fatherly advice is tougher as sometimes you walk a fine line between reason and logic on one hand, and on the other, emotions and love. Combining all of these into a positive energy is a life-long journey that every parent hopes to attain.

Q. Besides Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” who’s your favorite fictional lawyer?

A. I enjoyed Harrison Ford in his role in “Regarding Henry.” Sometimes it doesn’t matter when the truth surfaces, as long as it does.

Q. We are granting you the imaginary power to change or enact one law in the state of Indiana. What’s your pleasure?

A. I would overturn Stanley v. Walker as it unfairly benefits the insurance industry while punishing the injured party who paid premiums for health insurance coverage. A close second would be to abolish the Medical Review Panel which has no purpose in tort law other than to delay cases indefinitely and allow the “fox to guard the henhouse.”

Q. Your son came out of law school at a time when many people are concerned about the future of legal education and prospects for careers in law. What would you tell a young person considering law school?

A. I would agree that it is much more difficult to graduate from law school today and engage in a legal career than it was 33 years ago. Having said that, there are enormous opportunities for a person who holds a legal degree as it is the most versatile degree in society. Go forth and serve and good things will happen.

Q. If you had not become a lawyer, what would you be doing?

A. I would be a psychology professor doubling as a basketball coach at a small college in northern Michigan.

Q. What’s your assessment of civility among attorneys today compared with when you entered the profession?

A. There is not as much camaraderie today as there was years ago. This can account for the difficulties in amicably resolving a case.

Q. Is there one particular case you’ve worked on that stands out as the most difficult?

A. By far, the toughest case I worked on was seeing my friend and fellow attorney, Joan Irick, pass as a result of malpractice. To everyone who knew Joan, she was a terrific person and consummate professional. My representation of her in the last years of her life was one of the most heartbreaking and wrenching experiences I have been part of. She will be endeared and missed forever.

Q. You’re working one very high-profile case at the moment, representing a motorcycle victim of a crash involving Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer David Bisard. Any tips on smaller firms like yours taking on resource-heavy cases?

A. My advice would be to circle the wagons, my friend. Strap on your seatbelt and get ready to ride the tide for a long upheaval in a case you will become far too familiar with. Be prepared for power struggles and always fight for your cause, your client and for justice. Remember, nothing good comes easy.

Q. Something that hardly anyone knows about me is that I am a huge fan of _____.

A. Butterflies and birds because they can fly and I can’t.

Q. The philosophy that best describes my outlook on life is:

A. I wish I could say something clever such as that written by a far Eastern philosopher, but “The Serenity Prayer” is the best I can do. It simply says: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Also remember that all glory is fleeting. Never be too high on yourself or too low. Try to find a balance.

Q. Got any summer vacation plans?

A. By the time you read this, I will hopefully be catching a big walleye for shore lunch with Lance netting it. I also hope to take a family trip to a ranch in Montana to reaffirm the fact that I was never meant to be a cowboy.

Q. Any closing remarks?

A. I would like to thank everyone who stood by me in my life, especially my wife, Debi, my children, Lance, Luke and Hannah; and my parents, Bob and Shirley Ladendorf. •

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. 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.

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