ILNews

Leadership in Law 2013: Dustin R. DeNeal

Associate, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Indianapolis Indiana University Maurer School of Law

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dustin-deneal02-15col.jpg (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

As a fifth-year associate, Dustin R. DeNeal has tackled more complex issues and difficult cases in his finance and restructuring practice than some attorneys with many more years experience. Dustin had a “baptism by fire” early in his career when he took on prominent roles in a Chapter 11 case involving a large U.S. cattle dealer and a converted Chapter 7 case involving a global musical instrument retailer.

Dustin also has developed his own side practice advising colleges and universities on bankruptcy matters. He’s active in the Indianapolis, Indiana State and American bar associations and chairs the Client Financial Assistance Fund, a committee of the ISBA that works to compensate victims of attorney dishonesty.

What’s the most important thing your mentor has taught you?
Precision of thought. We do not deal with easy legal issues. Our clients call us with difficult, life-changing legal issues. We owe it to them to fully think through the situation and potential solutions before offering advice.

If you could go back in time, “when” would you go to and what would you do?
I think it would be fascinating to go back and experience the shared vision and patriotism of the Constitutional Convention while hopefully fixing/adding/changing some things that would short-circuit future problems.

In life or law, what bugs you?
Generally, it’s hypocrisy. Specifically, and I know this is not a novel thought, I’m not a big fan of keeping track of my time in 6-minute increments.

What civic cause is the most important to you?
Public education. I come from a family of teachers and firmly believe that we can do much more for children of all socioeconomic backgrounds by 1) making school administration more efficient and transparent, 2) fixing our school funding formula, and 3) giving all students (not just the ones who have caring parents) equal access to top-notch teachers.

Would a world without 24/7 technology be a good or bad thing?
A great thing. I know this is going to come across very stone-age, but our society overvalues technology and undervalues human resources. While technology is a useful tool, it can’t replace human interaction and face-to-face consensus and relationship building. From a personal standpoint, I’d love to be able to go a day without technology.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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