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. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.