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German law student chooses Indianapolis firm for unique internship

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During the early months of the year you might have found Andreas Wissman clerking at an Indianapolis firm, having dinner at a state appellate judge's home, observing a civil or criminal trial in federal court, or even paging at the Indiana Statehouse.

But the well-versed 28-year-old law student isn't a permanent part of the Hoosier legal community, even though it's now a foundational piece of his budding legal career that will soon take off in his home country of Germany.

Interning in a non-traditional role with LewisWagner since January, Wissman got a chance to not only view various aspects of the local legal community but a broader sense of how the American legal system operates. Now, that experience will help shape his professional life as he returns to his country.

"This is something very special to be in Indiana," he said. "As far as the experience, the people here are very polite and friendly and open-minded to people from other countries. Just being able, as a German, to look into professional lives of attorneys in another country is an amazing experience."

This experience has been part of the required legal education for prospective attorneys in Germany, and the man who's been studying the law for years chose a non-typical part of the United States to fulfill that requirement. He's traveled to 30 countries and has studied the law and shadowed various members of the global legal community, but the time in Indiana is his first experience of being truly exposed to the American legal system.

Wissman said Germany doesn't have a law school system like in the U.S. Instead, prospective lawyers typically study theoretical law at a university for five or six years before starting a two-year legal internship process. That involves different "stations" where the law student gets practical experience in various areas of the law: both criminal and civil law prosecutor or judge, two different attorneys, administrative, government agency, and a "town of choice" component where the person chooses where they want to study.

For that final part of the process, many students decide to shadow law firms in the U.S. to meet their requirements. But most look at larger areas, such as California, New York, or Chicago, Wissman said. Wanting something different, and because he has friends in Indiana and has traveled here in the past, Wissman decided he wanted to work in the Hoosier legal community.

"The purpose is to widen your horizons about what it's like to work in other legal systems," he said. "Many in Germany are working with a German attorney and some are going to another country. I've been to the U.S. eight times because we have friends here and we love it here, but I've always wanted to go to Indianapolis for this."

He reached out early last year to a handful of firms in Indianapolis, but it was LewisWagner that responded first and the most positively, he said. It took several months last year to finalize the details and travel logistics, but Wissman arrived in late December just before New Year's Eve. He started work Jan. 5 and will stay through March 19, when he returns to Germany.

Partner Sharon Murphy is the attorney who first received Wissman's e-mails and took an interest largely because she and her husband have sponsored about 10 foreign exchange students through the years. She persuaded the firm to bring him on board for a few months, and Murphy is pleased with how his time interning has turned out.

He's worked four days a week, taking Fridays off to study for what in Germany is the equivalent of the bar exam, Murphy said.

"We've tried to expose him to as many aspects of the American legal system as possible, but he's not doing normal clerk duties that someone we were hiring might be doing," Murphy said. "People who do this tend to go to the coasts, but Andreas may have done better here in Indiana than somewhere else. With a community of our size and not a lot of exposure to this type of thing, we have been able to treat him differently and give him more attention than what he might get from a large legal community."

In his time in Indiana, Wissman has attended a naturalization ceremony in the Southern District of Indiana, sat in on state civil and criminal trials as well as appellate arguments, observed the Marion County voir dire process in action, and shadowed various attorneys in proceedings, depositions, and mediations. He also had a chance to shadow a lobbying firm that shares office space with LewisWagner. Wissman also was able to connect with Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, and spent a day as a page at the Indiana Statehouse during the legislative session.

"I haven't studied American law, so my skills are limited," he said. "In Germany, we don't use precedent, and it's more focused on code laws. So it's been interesting to see so much case material available here and find similar cases that attorneys can refer to in cases."

Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Paul Mathias had a chance to meet Wissman after the state's tour office called the judge and asked if he'd meet with the student. The two hit it off immediately and ended up having quite a bit in common. The judge's family has spent time in Germany near Lake Constance, where Wissman and his fiancée are from.

"Andreas is a terrific young man, and I'm confident he'll be an excellent attorney and political figure in Germany," Judge Mathias said. "I'm glad to be a part of that in some way. This doesn't happen that frequently in life, and when it does happen you're pleased to take advantage of the opportunity."

Once he returns to Germany, Wissman said he isn't yet sure what he's going to do. He is awaiting test results from his 40-hour written exam in December. He also has an offer to run for mayor in a town near his hometown. Wissman hasn't yet decided if he'll try working as an attorney for a couple years first, or possibly even work for one of the companies that some friends own. He is planning to get married in August, so that factors into his decision-making.

One possibility that remains appealing, though, is returning to the U.S. to work as an attorney here. If that happens, Indiana may indeed be a top contender on his radar. With his visit, he's already been converted into an Indianapolis Colts fan, watching the Super Bowl unfold during his stay.

"I'm very grateful for this experience and am very fortunate to get this chance here in Indiana," he said. "I've been to 30 countries, but none of them are like Indianapolis."

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. 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)

  4. "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.

  5. 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.

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