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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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