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Leadership in Law 2014: Jonathan Scott Enright

Executive vice president, general counsel and secretary, Emmis Communications Corp., Indianapolis • Indiana University Maurer School of Law, 1990

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15col-Enright.jpg Scott Enright (IL photo/Eric Learned)

Scott Enright has earned a reputation as a leading media lawyer and legal strategist in Indiana and throughout the country. He is involved in all merger and acquisition activity at Emmis and played a central role in restructuring the company following the economic downturn in 2008. Scott has testified before Indiana legislative committees about the state’s corporate laws and been a steadfast defender of Indiana law as appropriate for Emmis when it may have been easier to “join the crowd” and reincorporate in Delaware. His commitment to Indiana, its laws and the community has remained both visible and consistent throughout his career.

You are the founder of the United States Knarling Association. What is knarling?

Knarling is a sport some friends and I invented in high school. It is similar to the Irish national sport of hurling. I started putting it on my resume in college and found it to be a great icebreaker at the start of job interviews. I’ve been putting it on my resume ever since.

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

Easily my most memorable job was scheduler for Lt. Governor John Mutz. I had just graduated from college and learned first-hand that government (done right) is a service industry. It was the best preparation I could have had for life as an attorney.

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

Find a great spouse. My wife’s support, counsel and understanding have made all the difference in the world. It also doesn’t hurt to exercise regularly and turn off the email alert on your smartphone.

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

I love to solve problems and put deals together because of the creativity they require. As a public company with an entrepreneurial leader in Jeff Smulyan, there’s never a dull day at Emmis.

How has media law changed since you started?

It has become a lot more complex. One of the biggest complexities is reconciling laws designed around traditional media with the new realities of the Internet and social media. There are a lot of square pegs to be fit into round holes.

What’s been the biggest change in the practice of law you’ve seen since you began?

Speed! What used to take weeks/months, now takes hours/days – and that means clients expect results immediately. The enhancement of commerce and efficiency are really positive, but I still remember the days when you could plan to be home shortly after the FedEx deadline at the Indianapolis International Airport.

What’s something about you not many people know?

I guess I can’t say, “I invented the sport of knarling,” anymore ... .

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

Because sometimes they’re true? Seriously, I think most professions have some form of negative stereotype. If lawyers have more negatives than other professions, it’s probably because our job is to be our clients’ advocate. We often take very public, very polarizing stances.

What civic cause is the most important to you?

I am involved with a number of civic causes. One related to law is the Legal Aid Centre of Eldoret (Kenya). With the help of some Indiana lawyers, they’re putting together a truly innovative project to train paralegals to help educate HIV/AIDS patients and their families about their legal rights. It’s absolutely amazing what they’re doing.

We hear a lot about civility. Have you noticed a change in how attorneys treat each other since you began practicing?

Not really. Some lawyers are jerks, just as some people are jerks, but that’s a small minority. I’m more often struck by the civility between lawyers – particularly in the face of clients who violently disagree with each other.

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

Trust your instincts. That little voice in the back of your head (or sometimes in the pit of your stomach) is usually right.

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

Probably run a business, maybe a nonprofit.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

Alan Shore and Denny Crane from “Boston Legal.” They were hilarious.

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

There are probably too many to share. The thing is, I’ve learned more from those than from the moments that went well. I’m a better lawyer today because of them.


 

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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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