ILNews

Law firm evolution hints how Evan Bayh could follow in his father's footsteps - again

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

It all began with three prominent attorneys 30 years ago.

But what started in late 1980 remains relevant today and raises an interesting hypothetical about what could happen again. An Indianapolis law firm created three decades ago is now dissolving, and a look back at how it first came to life offers possibilities for what could be ahead for the Indiana legal community and outgoing U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh.

As he leaves office and takes a nostalgic look back at the local law firm he once worked at briefly, the departing senator’s situation in some ways mirrors how his own father left office in December 1980 and came back to Indiana to make a bipartisan-style move and create a law firm that remained intact for three decades.

Which begs the question: Could it happen again, the son following in the father’s footsteps?

No one, including the outgoing senator, knows the answer. But it’s intriguing how similar his situation is to what came at his dad, former Sen. Birch Bayh, exactly 30 years ago and how that all seems to be intersecting now at the heart of the Hoosier legal community.

Blast from the Bayh past

After Birch Bayh lost his re-election bid to Dan Quayle in November 1980, he returned to Indiana, dusted off his shingle, and began mapping out a plan to finally pursue a long-delayed dream of starting his own law firm.

“I’d planned at one point to start a firm across from the courthouse in Terre Haute and be a trial lawyer. But something got in the way of that, so here I was many years later and finally going after that dream,” the 82-year old Bayh says now. “First thing I had to do was find lawyers I knew and could trust, and give credibility to what we were doing.”
 

tabbert Tabbert

The outgoing Democratic senator immediately tapped Don. A. Tabbert, a trusted friend and well-respected attorney who had also served decades earlier as the Republican-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

They talked and before long Bayh contacted a law school buddy of his, James B. Capehart, about joining with them in this new firm venture. The idea was to form a firm that would focus on public affairs and have offices in both Indianapolis and Washington D.C.

A fellow Democrat, Capehart also happened to have family ties to the Capeharts associated with the firm Krieg Devault Alexander & Capehart and the former senator who Birch Bayh had defeated for the Senate seat in 1962.

What they created was the firm of Bayh Tabbert & Capehart, which would go on to become a fixture in the legal community with deep business and political roots. Their clientele included Donald Trump, Bayer Corp., Clarian Health Partners, the city of Indianapolis and various health, insurance, and gaming industry clients.

The firm began disbanding in the mid-80s once Birch Bayh remarried and began spending less time in Indianapolis, the trio says.

“Circumstances just developed and the synergies we’d hoped could continue between Indianapolis and Washington just weren’t there,” Bayh said. “So, we changed our relationship and they went on without me.”

Capehart described the disbanding as a friendly parting without any animosity, and though he stayed a few years after Birch Bayh left he later stopped practicing full time and hasn’t gone back to practicing law.

The 75-year old Capehart said, “Really, this is what happens to law firms, naturally. They change.”

Firm evolution

Tabbert stayed to hold the firm together, bringing in a slew of prominent attorneys through the years. Before the elder Bayh left, he was able to practice with some of those attorneys that included his son, a young Evan Bayh, who was a University of Virginia School of Law graduate and worked at the firm in 1984 and 1985. That was before Evan Bayh’s entrance into state politics as Indiana secretary of state and governor and eventually taking the U.S. Senate seat his father had once held.

After 12 years, Evan Bayh is leaving the Senate. He has said his decision is due to widening partisan conflicts that make it nearly impossible to address the country’s business. Turning 55 on Dec. 26, the son is two years older than his father was at the time of leaving the Senate and forming Bayh Tabbert & Capehart.

So far, Evan Bayh has not revealed his professional plans or whether he might return to the Indianapolis legal community. While he has an inactive license and resides mostly in Washington, D.C., Bayh has said publicly he plans at some point to return to this state. He points to family reasons as why he doesn’t plan to run for governor in 2012, and he says he doesn’t plan to become a lobbyist.

One door closes, another opens

Whatever path Evan Bayh chooses, it most likely won’t involve the firm his father helped start and later evolved into the now-dissolving Tabbert Hahn Earnest & Weddle. Partners at the mid-sized firm announced Dec. 4 that four associates and five partners, including named partners Greg Hahn and Bob Weddle, are joining Bose McKinney & Evans at the start of 2011. The remaining four lawyers, as well as co-founder Tabbert, who now serves as of counsel, are going off on their own.

Working at the firm Veneble in Washington, D.C., Birch Bayh says he heard the news of the Indianapolis firm’s dissolution and immediately contacted Tabbert, who he’s tried to keep in touch with through the years.

“A large part of my heart has always stayed there in Indiana, but Don was and still is the pillar of strength for the firm standing through the years,” he said.

Tabbert said the firm decisions happened fast and some didn’t want to move to the city’s fifth largest firm, but once it became clear that the change would happen he had to start thinking about what his next move would be.

“I didn’t have a lot of time to decide this once I saw my firm was going to dissolve, and so I was looking to find a place because I’m full-time busy,” the 82-year old attorney said.

Tabbert says he has since made plans to become a solo practitioner. He is going to share office space on the north side of Indianapolis with a former partner at his firm, Mark K. Sullivan. The two won’t be working as partners or in an actual law firm, but instead will be sharing office space in a loose association as some lawyers do throughout the state. One paralegal from his current firm will be joining him at the new office, Tabbert said.

“I’m proud of how this firm has grown up in the past 30 years and had some offshoots, but I’m looking forward to what’s next,” he said. “What’s important is that the surroundings don’t interfere with your practice. A solo practice doesn’t bother me one bit, because when you’re practicing, you’re doing just that – practicing law.”•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

  2. Freedom as granted in the Constitution cannot be summarily disallowed without Due Process. Unable to to to the gym, church, bowling alley? What is this 1984 level nonsense? Congrats to Brian for having the courage to say that this was enough! and Congrats to the ACLU on the win!

  3. America's hyper-phobia about convicted sex offenders must end! Politicians must stop pandering to knee-jerk public hysteria. And the public needs to learn the facts. Research by the California Sex Offender Management Board as shown a recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders of less than 1%. Less than 1%! Furthermore, research shows that by year 17 after their conviction, a convicted sex offender is no more likely to commit a new sex offense than any other member of the public. Put away your torches and pitchforks. Get the facts. Stop hysteria.

  4. He was convicted 23 years ago. How old was he then? He probably was a juvenile. People do stupid things, especially before their brain is fully developed. Why are we continuing to punish him in 2016? If he hasn't re-offended by now, it's very, very unlikely he ever will. He paid for his mistake sufficiently. Let him live his life in peace.

  5. This year, Notre Dame actually enrolled an equal amount of male and female students.

ADVERTISEMENT