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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. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  2. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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  4. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  5. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

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