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. Bill Satterlee is, indeed, a true jazz aficionado. Part of my legal career was spent as an associate attorney with Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso. Bill was instrumental (no pun intended) in introducing me to jazz music, thereby fostering my love for this genre. We would, occasionally, travel to Chicago on weekends and sit in on some outstanding jazz sessions at Andy's on Hubbard Street. Had it not been for Bill's love of jazz music, I never would have had the good fortune of hearing it played live at Andy's. And, most likely, I might never have begun listening to it as much as I do. Thanks, Bill.

  2. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  3. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  4. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  5. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

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