Leadership in Law 2013: Josh S. Tatum

Associate, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP, Indianapolis Vanderbilt University Law School

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josh-tatum02-15col.jpg (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Since he was 12 years old, Josh S. Tatum has known he wanted to be an attorney because the lawyers he knew were some of the finest people he encountered. His sense of ethical commitment is highlighted by his graduating from school with a Juris Doctor and a Master’s in Divinity. Josh practices in appeals, participating in more than 35 cases before state and federal appellate courts in just two years of practice. He is especially proud of the amicus brief he authored in the Indiana school voucher case that the Indiana Supreme Court ruled on in March 2013. Josh is bright, able and enthusiastic and is considered by his mentor George Plews as someone who will have a longstanding and significant impact on the legal community.

If you could take a sabbatical from the law for a year to work your fantasy job, what job would you choose?
President of Wabash College. Wabash is an institution that changed my life starting with my enrollment and continuing today. The faculty, fellow alumni, friends and family have been a close community that challenged me to shape my identity more than any other. It’s my fantasy job because it would be a thrill to help lead that community in striving toward its mission.

If you could go back in time, “when” would you go to and what would you do?
I would meet my first ancestors who immigrated to the United States and learn about what motivated them to make such a dramatic change in their lives.

In life or law, what bugs you?
Bad writing.

If you could meet and spend a day with one lawyer from history, who would it be and why?
Abraham Lincoln. His writing and rhetoric are the most concise and powerful I have come across from any lawyer. I’d love to talk to him about how he developed closing arguments, brought cases to resolution, and drafted his speeches. His great accomplishments as president too often overshadow his great skill as an attorney.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
The ability to slow down time.

What’s the most important thing your mentor has taught you?
Kindness demonstrates strength rather than weakness.

What do you find scary?
Student loans.

What class in law school did you find the most difficult?

What civic cause is the most important to you?
Indiana YMCA Youth and Government. It’s a civic-education program that brings high-school students from across the state to participate in a model government at the Indiana Statehouse for a weekend. Students play the roles of legislators, the governor, secretary of state, Supreme Court justices, media correspondents and others. My wife and I are alumni of the program and both want young Hoosiers to internalize the Y’s values and Youth and Government’s motto, “Democracy must be learned by each generation.”

If you could pick a theme song to describe your life, what would it be?
“Back Home Again in Indiana.”

Would a world without 24/7 technology be a good or bad thing?
I’m agnostic on this. Electronics can be used for good or bad. Technology has always posed problems. Advances in metallurgy made for better plows and for better weapons. The printing press similarly had two sides. “Technology” is just another aspect of life we have to deal with.


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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.