ILNews

Leadership in Law 2013: Anna (Obergfell) Kirkman

Associate counsel, Wishard Health Services, Indianapolis Indiana University Maurer School of Law

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anna-kirkman01-15col.jpg (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

In the three years since she graduated from law school, Anna (Obergfell) Kirkman’s development and leadership of the Medical-Legal Partnership at Wishard Health Services has not only improved the health of patients and influenced the way care is provided, it has become a national model for similar partnerships. The MLP, which intervenes when patients have health problems that require a legal remedy, has expanded to five Wishard locations under Anna’s watch. Through her work, she’s developed her knowledge of general health care law and demonstrates true compassion for Wishard patients.

What’s the most important thing your mentor has taught you?
To be responsive and thorough.

Would a world without 24/7 technology be a good or bad thing?
It’s great to sometimes shut down and get away from the constant buzz of email and social media, but technology also supports life-saving medical equipment and many other tools that we rely on to keep us safe.

If you could take a sabbatical from the law for a year to work your fantasy job, what job would you choose?
I would be a reporter for the radio program “This American Life.”

If you could meet and spend a day with one lawyer from history, who would it be and why?
Gandhi began as a lawyer, and in many ways, that laid the groundwork for his zealous and compassionate advocacy.

What civic cause is the most important to you?
Reinvesting in the local community. Whether by going to the farmer’s market, volunteering with local nonprofits or participating in local professional organizations, it’s important to develop our surroundings.

If you could go back in time, “when” would you go to and what would you do?
Since much of history is marked by war and tragedy, instead of choosing a significant historical event, I’d like to go back and be a fly on the wall of the “Saturday Night Live” set during the late ’70s when Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray were part of the cast.

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  1. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  2. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

  3. She must be a great lawyer

  4. Ind. Courts - "Illinois ranks 49th for how court system serves disadvantaged" What about Indiana? A story today from Dave Collins of the AP, here published in the Benton Illinois Evening News, begins: Illinois' court system had the third-worst score in the nation among state judiciaries in serving poor, disabled and other disadvantaged members of the public, according to new rankings. Illinois' "Justice Index" score of 34.5 out of 100, determined by the nonprofit National Center for Access to Justice, is based on how states serve people with disabilities and limited English proficiency, how much free legal help is available and how states help increasing numbers of people representing themselves in court, among other issues. Connecticut led all states with a score of 73.4 and was followed by Hawaii, Minnesota, New York and Delaware, respectively. Local courts in Washington, D.C., had the highest overall score at 80.9. At the bottom was Oklahoma at 23.7, followed by Kentucky, Illinois, South Dakota and Indiana. ILB: That puts Indiana at 46th worse. More from the story: Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee and Maine had perfect 100 scores in serving people with disabilities, while Indiana, Georgia, Wyoming, Missouri and Idaho had the lowest scores. Those rankings were based on issues such as whether interpretation services are offered free to the deaf and hearing-impaired and whether there are laws or rules allowing service animals in courthouses. The index also reviewed how many civil legal aid lawyers were available to provide free legal help. Washington, D.C., had nearly nine civil legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty, the highest rate in the country. Texas had the lowest rate, 0.43 legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty. http://indianalawblog.com/archives/2014/11/ind_courts_illi_1.html

  5. A very thorough opinion by the federal court. The Rooker-Feldman analysis, in particular, helps clear up muddy water as to the entanglement issue. Looks like the Seventh Circuit is willing to let its district courts cruise much closer to the Indiana Supreme Court's shorelines than most thought likely, at least when the ADA on the docket. Some could argue that this case and Praekel, taken together, paint a rather unflattering picture of how the lower courts are being advised as to their duties under the ADA. A read of the DOJ amicus in Praekel seems to demonstrate a less-than-congenial view toward the higher echelons in the bureaucracy.

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