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Leadership in Law 2013: Joseph R. Fullenkamp

Partner, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, South Bend University of Iowa College of Law

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fullenkamp-6877-joseph-15col.jpg (IL Photo/Shephard Imageworks, Mark Shephard)

Joseph R. Fullenkamp is an active leader within his firm and devoted to his community, setting the bar for what attorneys everywhere should strive to accomplish. The litigator served on the firm’s management committee from 2008 to 2010 and now serves as the litigation department administrator for the South Bend/Elkhart offices. Joe also spends a significant amount of time mentoring associates and other attorneys who seek him out for professional advice and input regarding work/life balance and career advancement. Joe is immediate past-president of the St. Joseph County Bar Association and has served on the bar association’s board of governors since 2005. He helped form the SJCBA’s Judicial Survey Committee, which polls members anonymously about sitting county judges. He continues to serve as committee chair.

If you could meet and spend a day with one lawyer from history, who would it be and why?
Nelson Mandela. I admire his commitment to and personal sacrifice for social justice in South Africa. After his release from 27 years of imprisonment, he was able to negotiate the end of apartheid and the establishment of multi-racial elections in South Africa with the same government that imprisoned him.

If you could take a sabbatical from the law for a year to work your fantasy job, what job would you choose?
A fishing guide on Leech Lake in Minnesota.

If you could go back in time, “when” would you go to and what would you do?
1804. I’d join the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

What civic cause is the most important to you?
When my local bar term ends, I’d like to get involved in refugee resettlement and asylum.

In life or law, what bugs you?
It seems like we all say that people need to work together and compromise to solve difficult issues – “but only if it doesn’t affect me.”

What do you find scary?
The thought of our four boys as adults.

Numerous TV shows center around lawyers and their practices. Are any of them close to realistic?
No. However, when I interned with the Linn County (Iowa) Prosecutor’s Office, I used a line from “Matlock” to convince a judge to overrule an objection by the defendant’s counsel in a suppression hearing.

If you could pick a theme song to describe your life, what would it be?
“In Heaven There is no Beer” reminds me of my Iowa German-Catholic hometown, is played by the Hawkeye Marching Band at football and basketball games, and describes enjoying friends and experiencing life (in moderation).  

Would a world without 24/7 technology be a good or bad thing?
Not being connected 24/7 would be good. Immediate access has some benefits, but we have lost the opportunity to take time to think through an issue before we respond. 

What class in law school did you find the most difficult?
In what was supposed to be an easy final semester at the University of Iowa, after already accepting a position at Barnes & Thornburg in Indiana, I learned that I was 1 hour short of Indiana’s 6-hour civil procedure requirement. I had to add Advanced Civil Procedure when the semester was already half over. Now I realize that it was my most helpful class.

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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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