ILNews

Leadership in Law 2012: Hon. Thomas J. Felts

Judge, Allen Circuit Court, Fort Wayne Indiana University Maurer School of Law

April 25, 2012
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Thomas Felts (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Judge Thomas Felts’ legal knowledge and practice advice to young professionals has helped improve the legal community around him. He embraces the idea of mentoring not only his law clerks but also young attorneys litigating in his court. The former president of the Indiana Judges Association board is active in the legal community, including his involvement with the state bar and Commission on Courts. He also devotes time to improving the Fort Wayne community, including his service on the board of the Foellinger Foundation.

The best advice I ever received was
“always keep your eyes open for opportunities.”

I wish I had known when I graduated law school that
the practice of law is, like most things, mostly about relationships.

My best stress reliever is
running.

If I weren’t a lawyer, I’d
be a teacher or professor (but wishing I was singing and playing the piano in a bar somewhere tropical).

In 2012, I’d like to
have an even better year than a pretty-great 2011.

The three words that best describe me are
passionate, busy and well-rounded.

In my community, I’m passionate about
the not-for-profit community and my place in it.

In the movie about my life,
a somewhat younger Michael Douglas would play me.

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  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

  5. I have a appeals hearing for the renewal of my LPN licenses and I need an attorney, the ones I have spoke to so far want the money up front and I cant afford that. I was wondering if you could help me find one that takes payments or even a pro bono one. I live in Indiana just north of Indianapolis.

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