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Leadership in Law 2014: Brianna J. Schroeder

Associate, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP, Indianapolis • Valparaiso University Law School, 2009

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15col-Schroeder.jpg Brianna J. Schroeder (IL Photo/ Eric Learned)

Brianna J. Schroeder is a self-described farm girl whose put those skills to use in her practice, which includes agricultural and environmental law. She did the heavy lifting on a Right to Farm Act case that has become the leading Indiana decision on the subject. She also currently serves as secretary-treasurer for the Indiana State Bar Association’s Agricultural Law Section. Brianna remains active with her alma mater, serving as the vice-president of the Central Indiana Valparaiso Law School Alumni Council, in which she hopes to bring alumni and current law students closer socially and professionally.

You’ve worked in Peru, visited Israel while in law school, and have traveled to many other countries. How many stamps are in your passport, and what is it that you love about traveling?

Funny thing is that right now, the only stamp in my passport is a Russian visa from a trip to Moscow and Saint Petersburg this winter with my fiancé. I had to renew my passport and start over on stamps. I love going to new places, especially places that are very different from my everyday life. Russia definitely qualified – I recommend visiting!

You’d like to eventually teach, possibly high school civics classes. Why is civics education important?

I think students need a basic understanding of our governmental structure. It teaches why voting is important, how our leaders are chosen, what roles are played by each part of the government, and so many other fundamentals. Civics likely seems elementary to lawyers, but many high school students have a hard time explaining the difference between the branches of government.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

Elle Woods – you don’t have to change who you are to be an effective lawyer.

What was the worst or most memorable job you had prior to becoming an attorney?

I worked as a bookie for a (legal) greyhound racing track in college. It is no longer in business.

What are some tips for achieving a work/life balance?

Don’t give up your pre-law hobbies or friends. Take time out from your practice to develop your other interests. I love the time I spend playing sand volleyball, reading and traveling.

Why practice in the area of law that you do?

Environmental law is constantly changing. That and the interplay of federal, state and local laws keeps me on my toes. I also love my agricultural work, because I grew up on a family farm.

If you could meet and spend the day with one lawyer from history, who would it be and why?

John Adams. His defense of the British soldiers after the Boston Massacre while the city was on edge was such a courageous move and showed the importance of legal counsel for the accused.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Turning my cell phone off and getting lost in a historical biography with a glass or two of red wine.

Why do you think people often have negative stereotypes about lawyers?

So many people don’t actually know any lawyers except those in movies and television. Crazy lawyers make for good entertainment but don’t accurately depict the vast majority of attorneys I know.

What class do you wish you could have skipped in law school?

I don’t know what class I wish I could have skipped, but I wish I had taken an environmental law class.

What is the most important lesson you learned from your mentor?

Be ready and willing to embrace new opportunities. Even if it isn’t what you thought your next step would be, be ready for whatever comes next! Take chances and try new things. You’re more likely to regret passing up an opportunity than you are to regret seizing the chance to do something new.

What’s something about you not many people know?

I twirled baton for about 10 years. It was not my best look.
 

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  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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