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Leadership in Law 2014: Henry J. Price

Principal member, Price Waicukauski & Riley LLC, Indianapolis • University of Michigan Law School, 1962

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15col-Price.jpg Henry J. Price (Submitted photo)

During the more than 50 years Henry J. Price has been practicing law, he has earned a reputation as one of the best and smartest trial lawyers in Indiana with a spirit and style all his own. He started his career with Barnes & Thornburg LLP, where he represented defendants for 22 years, but then decided to switch to the plaintiff’s side. Henry started Price Waicukauski & Riley in 1985, where he has successfully litigated class actions and other cases in Indiana and across the nation.

Your decision to buy and renovate a building on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis nearly 30 years ago helped spur a renaissance of the area. What’s the best thing about being in the Mass Ave area?

Having seen it change and prosper is the most rewarding. The best thing is having been involved in starting the change and being privileged to practice in an Indianapolis landmark building.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

Perry Mason. His books motivated me to go to law school and specialize in trial work. My masters program at Georgetown that involved defending those accused of crime in the D.C. courts demonstrated that was not the area for me.

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

I would be an actor, stage or screen.

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

I had a scholarship to Pasadena Playhouse upon graduation from high school. I wish I could have afforded to take it instead of working at the International Harvester to make money for college. That would have been great.

What civic cause is the most important to you?

I have been part of and supported the Civil Liberties Union, state and national, for all of my time in practice. In the current climate in Washington, the need is even greater.

Is there any case or moment that stands out from your time as an attorney with the ACLU of Indiana? 

The successful challenge to the state’s ban on the (Indiana Civil Liberties Union) using the Indiana War Memorial auditorium for a presentation on freedom of speech. This originated in the 1950s when the Communist witch hunt engineered by Sen. McCarthy was in full swing and resulted in the denial of the use of this tax-supported building for this event. It took us two decades to challenge it, and I argued the case where we won in the Indiana Supreme Court. We celebrated with a meeting featuring Mick Wallace, Bill Buckley and Fred Friendly, who was the producer for the Edward R. Murrow “See it Now” program which had featured this story in the 1950s. I moderated the panel. It was the exciting culmination of a long fight.

How has litigation changed since you started?

It changed from a civilized practice to one dominated by delay and lack of civility. With the help of the judiciary it is now changing back.

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

Play as hard as you practice.

You’ve been practicing law for 50 years. What legal skills or traditions have faded away over the years that you would like to see return?

As I said, civility and honesty among adversaries faded; but it has been coming back for the last five to 10 years.

Why do you practice in the area of law that you do?

Trial work is the most challenging, exciting and rewarding practice there is.

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

I always hated tax.

What’s something you’ve learned over the years that you wish you could go back in time and tell your younger self?

Take more time with and devote more energy to your family.

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

Working on the assembly line at the International Harvester plant in Fort Wayne was the worst.
 

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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