ILNews

Leadership in Law 2013: Judy L. Woods

Partner, Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP, Indianapolis Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

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judy-woods02-15col.jpg (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Judy L. Woods is an exemplary attorney, legal scholar, community leader and mentor. She is one of the state’s top commercial and business litigators, focusing on complex commercial and “bet the company” litigation. For 20 years, she has been published regularly in numerous law journals, and she is the author of three volumes of Indiana Practice and Procedure. As a member and chair of the Advisory Committee on Litigation to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Judy advises church officials at the national level about constitutional and other litigation matters in federal and state courts. Her work in the banking and accounting fields often put her in settings in which she was the only woman in the room. By being one of the best, Judy has quietly opened doors for women and patiently held them open for those who have come after her.

If you could take a sabbatical from the law for a year to work your fantasy job, what job would you choose?
I would go on an archeological dig in Africa or the near East. Before law school I did graduate work in and taught anthropology.

What civic cause is the most important to you?
Supporting the arts. We need more than sports and business to be a world-class community. We need music, opera, theater, literature, dance and visual arts. The arts humanize us and challenge us to be better and go farther.

What do you find scary?
Growing intolerance and illiteracy in the world as a result of over reliance on the Internet and social media and increasing political polarization. An educated citizenry is necessary to maintain the rule of law.

What class in law school did you find the most difficult?
Business mergers and acquisitions, because I was doing M & A work for a large bank at the time and looked at everything from a very practical, client’s point of view, not the lawyer’s perspective.

In life or law, what bugs you?
Persistent prejudice and lack of diversity. We still have a long way to go in law and life before there is gender equality.

Numerous TV shows center around lawyers and their practices. Are any of them close to realistic?
“Law and Order,” “The Good Wife,” etc. all have some elements of truth, but none of them captures the amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into being a good lawyer – reading the law, reviewing the documents, editing and re-editing drafts. One of my mentors, Judge James Kirsch, taught me that being a good lawyer is 90 percent preparation and 10 percent presentation.

If a drink or sandwich were to be named after you, what would it be called and what would be in it?
The sandwich would be thick and have a lot of layers because that is my life – lots of layers of different experiences. I would cut it into precise triangles to represent my attention to detail and call it the “Martha.”
 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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