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Leadership in Law 2014: Samantha E. DeWester

City prosecutor, public access counselor, deputy corporation counsel, City of Indianapolis • Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, 2007

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15col-DeWester.jpg Samantha DeWester (IL Photo/ Eric Learned)

Although Samantha DeWester has been a practicing attorney for just six years, her legal career began 20 years ago. She’s held management positions in the legal department at Bank One and at Feiwell & Hannoy P.C., working full time while attending law school at night. Now she holds three high-level jobs for the city of Indianapolis. She is not afraid of long hours or a daunting task; she views those as a challenge.

Active in bar associations and committees, Samantha is a sounding board for friends and associates. She is an advocate for programs that help lawyers strive to be better lawyers, and her personal and professional style is viewed as a refreshing example of civility in the legal profession.

You worked in management in the legal departments at several companies before becoming a lawyer. Did you always want to be an attorney or did working in the legal departments inspire you to pursue the law?

I think I knew I wanted to become a lawyer from a young age. My mother worked as a secretary in the Court of Appeals for nearly 20 years, so I grew up around a ton of lawyers. She, more than anything, inspired me to become an attorney.

You’re job title alone sounds overwhelming! What are some tips for achieving a work/life balance?

I work hard and play hard. I decided, long ago, what is most important in my life and I try to devote time to those things and people. Otherwise, I do not feel like a complete human being.

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

When I was an intern at the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, I was able to try many cases. It would be fun to try those same cases now, with the knowledge and experience I have gained.

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

Mentoring is something I truly believe our practice is missing. In my early career, I did not really establish a mentor/mentee relationship with any one particular person. Instead, I have taken lessons from multiple lawyers by whom I am surrounded. I continually strive to help newer lawyers in their endeavors. It is our duty.

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

My uncle, Lloyd DeWester. He passed away when I was a teenager. His granddaughter and I are the first female lawyers in our family. It would be great to hear his experiences and advice.

What civic cause is the most important to you?

Working to keep our city and neighborhoods clean and safe. I have lived here my entire life so whatever the problem, I will work relentlessly to fix it.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Life is too short for guilt.

Why practice in the area of law that you do?

I have always worked in government practice. I love what I do. Being able to help others is a fantastic feeling. I love our city and the great folks here. It is a pleasure being able to serve!

What’s something about you not many people know?

I have mentored kids for most of my adult life. I was a Big Sister for many years, mentored incarcerated boys at Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility and have currently mentored my “little sister” for nearly a decade.

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

Because you typically only hear about lawyers when something salacious or negative is going on. The media typically only reports when good lawyers go bad or when a case is very controversial.
 

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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