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Leadership in Law 2014: Carly A. Brandenburg

Income partner, Eichhorn & Eichhorn LLP, Hammond • Indiana University Maurer School of Law, 2007

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15col-Brandenburg.jpg Carly A. Brandenburg (Photo/ Pete Doherty, Doherty Images LLC)

Because of her poise and easy nature, clients and other attorneys are quick to place their trust in Carly Brandenburg, whose practice areas include medical and legal malpractice defense. Licensed in Indiana and Illinois, Carly has gained substantial trial experience during her seven years in the law and has participated in numerous arbitration and mediation proceedings in both states. She is an advocate and willing adviser to young associates at the firm. Carly has led Eichhorn & Eichhorn’s food drive for the last two years as part of the March Against Hunger campaign, is a valued Junior Achievement volunteer, and has provided pro bono work for a local animal rescue group.

Why practice in the area of law that you do?

In law school I gravitated toward litigation and trial practice following wonderful experiences I had with the deputy prosecutor in Owen County, Bob Andree. Now that I’m practicing civil litigation, I don’t think I could get as excited about other work. I love the rush that comes from presenting arguments at a hearing or conducting voir dire to select a jury. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to try six jury trials and many bench and small claims trials, and I can’t imagine that it could ever get old.

What’s something about you not many people know?

I have been snow skiing since I was about 2 years old. This past winter my 2-year-old daughter, Fiona, skied for the first time on the very same set of skis! Thirty years later, and they were still perfect!

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

My best job ever – perhaps not just prior to becoming a lawyer – was when I worked on air and behind the scenes at the “Good Morning Vail” television show in Vail, Colo. Though I was working for college credit at DePauw rather than for pay, my volunteer status earned me the right to ski for free. I must have skied my weight in gold.

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

Listen more than you speak, particularly with your clients. They are experts in their fields and areas of business. You can miss important details if you’re more focused on demonstrating your own acumen than you are about hearing and understanding someone else’s problems.

You’re licensed in Indiana and Illinois. Is there much of a difference between the tests?

While the tests are basically the same, the practice is very different. Having the chance to split my practice between the two states gives me better perspective and has definitely made me a better lawyer.

What civic cause is the most important to you?

My husband and I mentor a 14-year-old boy. We’ve known him since he was 9 and are proud of the young man he’s becoming. I would recommend mentorship programs or other organizations that can have a big impact for children, like Junior Achievement, to anyone interested. I’m also a big fan of the South Shore Arts Center in my community, Munster, as well. It brings so many great opportunities for theater, art, and music for people in Northwest Indiana.

You’re going to teach a course to a group of second graders though your work with Junior Achievement. Which is more intimidating: entering a courtroom before a trial or a classroom full of kids?

My experience with the second graders in Hammond has given me a better appreciation for what teachers do. I must be very prepared in order to keep them engaged for an hour each Friday. However, I have to say that the most intimidating experience I’ve encountered was walking up to the podium this past January to argue before the Court of Appeals. Once I started my argument though, I was amazed at how the stress melted away almost immediately.

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

John Adams. I am reading his biography, and I find it amazing that he chose to risk his steadily increasing personal and political reputation as an ardent patriot when he agreed to represent the British soldiers accused of murder following the Boston massacre. Though on the opposite side of the political tide, he acted according to his conscience.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

Vincent LaGuardia Gambini – better known as “My Cousin Vinny.”

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Thai food, cupcakes or watching bad romantic comedies (sometimes even for a second or third time).

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

I think it stems from a belief many people have that there can only be one right or wrong answer or position. For those of that mindset, they will have little respect for the skilled orator or writer who masterfully expresses her case and thereby makes it more likely for the position opposing their own to prevail. I believe if we are too quick to judge and decide questions, we’re in trouble. It’s rare anymore that a person approaches an important issue willing to have his or her mind changed. When there’s no risk of being convinced against your position, there’s little point in debate.  

If you couldn’t be a lawyer, what would you do for a living?

Own a small bistro that makes “slow food” and has a large wine list.    

Is there a moment in your career you wish you could do over?

The biggest mistakes have been great learning experiences, but sure, I’d fix a few hiccups along the way.

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

Probably tax law – just not my area of interest. I took it because I liked the professor.
 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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