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Leaders beyond the office

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A group of 25 young lawyers is learning about the importance of leadership skills in the legal profession and why those skills matter beyond the office. As members of the Indiana State Bar Association’s first Leadership Development Academy, the group will travel around the state through May to attend monthly two-day sessions on topics including diversity, education and law enforcement.

leadership Members of the Indiana State Bar Association’s Leadership Development Academy visited the Statehouse and Indiana Supreme Court in February. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

The state bar hopes the academy will foster leadership skills that lawyers can use not only in their practice, but in governmental and community roles, too. And developing those skills may lead to more professional opportunities.

Lawyer leaders

Marisol Sanchez, general counsel for Endress + Hauser, was on the planning committee for the LDA.

“I wanted to use what I’ve learned to help mold the Indiana State Bar Association’s LDA … because of all the things that I’ve done, and because I want to help people who are starting out in their careers,” she said.

In her role as general counsel, Sanchez said she relies on her leadership skills daily.

“Leadership skills come in very handy in being able to communicate effectively, work with people and also bridging gaps between one department and another,” she said.

Mike Biberstine, who focuses on mass transit and government reform as director of public policy for the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, regularly uses leadership skills while interacting with the City-County Council and Mayor Greg Ballard’s office. But he didn’t have the benefit of participating in a leadership program before landing in his current role.

“I’m still learning,” he said. “I’ve always been a very good observer, so I’ve been very cognizant of the folks around me and tried to pay attention to the way they dealt with issues.”

The state bar’s LDA curriculum allows participants to receive advice directly from people in key leadership roles. The group learned about leadership in the judiciary and government Feb. 13 and 14, traveling to the Statehouse on Valentine’s Day to meet with some of Indiana’s most influential lawyers.

“One of the things that all of us were impacted by is the genuineness and authenticity of the people – particularly the Supreme Court justices. They’re down-to-earth, normal people,” said Jaime Oss, a participant in the academy.

Setting examples

Sanchez formerly clerked for Indiana Supreme Court Justice Randall Shepard.

“Chief Justice Shepard was truly a role model. He exemplifies leadership in its totality, so to speak. Just being a part of his day-to-day activity and seeing the impact that he has had not only on the legal profession, but on the community as a whole – and nationally he is recognized for all he has done in the judiciary,” she said. “It really set an example as to what a leader really looks like and how I wanted to mimic that in my professional career.”

Oss works alongside her role model in Michigan City.

“My dad is probably the person I look up to – he is the Huelat in Huelat Mack & Kreppein,” she said. “He’s very active in the legal community; he’s very active with the Defense Trial Counsel, Defense Research Institute. I guess I’m following – or trying to at least – in his footsteps.”

Whitney Mosby, an attorney with Bingham Greenebaum Doll, learned about leading by example when she participated in the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series in 2005-2006. That program – established nine years ago – also selects 25 attorneys, with three to 10 years of experience, who attend leadership sessions in Indianapolis and complete a community service team project.

She learned in the Bar Leader Series that good leaders need to be able to create “buy-in” from the group they’re leading – and that’s mostly done by being a good example.

“If you are not excited and passionate and involved in the group, then the team members aren’t going to buy into the ultimate goal of the group either,” she said. “People are inspired if you are inspired.”

Basic applications of leadership

Scott Chinn, president of the Indianapolis Bar Association and past president of the Indiana Municipal Lawyers Association, has held many leadership positions in his career. And he said leadership skills are necessary in daily life, too.

Lawyers find themselves thrust into many types of leadership positions, “even if they don’t want to be,” Chinn reflected. “Lawyers get called on all the time to resolve disputes.”

leadership Shontrai Irving, Gary, left, and Terry Tolliver, Indianapolis, listen during their visit to the Statehouse as part of the state bar’s Leadership Development Academy. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Chinn suspects lawyers routinely use their leadership abilities informally – in their churches, their neighborhoods or other settings where people turn to them for guidance.

He said leadership begins with the ability to understand people’s concerns and aspirations. Oss – through her participation in the LDA – has picked up on those fundamentals.

LDA participants took a personality test and shared the results with the group. The results helped them understand which members were reflective, which were pragmatic, and how to interact with people of different dispositions.

Oss is involved in groups at her son’s school, and she sees how lessons she’s learning through the LDA may explain why groups aren’t necessarily as productive as they could be.

“You’re thinking more about your own goals and reason for being there, and sometimes you forget there are other people, and things that they’re looking to accomplish, and sometimes that gets in the way of consensus,” she said.

Branching out

LDA participant Shontrai Irving, a litigator for State Farm Insurance, said he appreciates that the LDA scheduled sessions in varying and diverse locations. And that’s one of the reasons he made time in his busy schedule to participate.

“We all have work to do, but I wanted a greater awareness of what was going on around the state,” he said.

ossOss

Sanchez explained that taking steps to grow professionally, as the LDA participants are, is a wise move.

“If you show the interest, and you show that you try to make your mark in this world – personally or professionally – it pays off,” she said.

Mosby has held several leadership roles since her time in the IndyBar Leader Series. She served on the board of directors for the Indiana Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and was chair of the IBA’s Young Lawyers Division. She said the personal connections she made from the Bar Leader Series caused her to seek out roles where she could be around other lawyers she might not interact with regularly. Specifically, she mentioned that as a current board member for the Indianapolis Bar Foundation, she enjoys “just being around a fun group of people.”

Public image

Lawyers increasingly find themselves adapting to changes in the profession, like finding ways to be competitive with online legal services, Chinn said.

“I think one thing that can really help lawyers stand out is to be leaders – to show in demonstrable ways that we’re adding judgment that you can’t just get from the Internet,” he added.

Oss thinks that by being more engaged in their communities, lawyers may be performing a service to the profession.

“The opinion that people hold of lawyers isn’t that great. We as a group would like to change that attitude, and I think that being out there and being leaders in our communities and leading by example can hopefully change that attitude that people have toward lawyers, in general,” she said.•

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  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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