Looking on the Bright Side...

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Robin Babbitt mug Robin L. Babbitt
Indianapolis Bar Foundation

I freely admit this is the time of year that I question my family’s decision to establish our residence north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Going for weeks on end without sunshine is not good for one’s soul. In Indiana, March is the month that typically throws a couple of cruel jokes this way. About the time Hoosiers become convinced that we have turned the corner and Spring has really arrived, the weather gods typically throw in a last winter storm (or two).

When winter gets the best of me, I reflect back on my move to Indianapolis in 1977 and the beginning of my studies at the IU Indianapolis School of Law. I entered law school at a time when it was being portrayed in an unflattering light in books (Scott Turow’s – 1L), in movies (Paper Chase) and on TV. I probably was not alone in starting law school with the firm conviction that I would be lucky to graduate. Superimposing images of Professor Kingsfield with unknown classmates who would sabotage anyone standing in their way to improve their class standing was not comforting.

The good news is that my reality was nothing like the events portrayed in the movie and TV series. Professors like Dean Harvey, Bruce Townsend and Chuck Kelso – while legendary – were brilliant, compassionate and fair. It did not take me long to come to the inescapable conclusion that my colleagues (in the Class of 1980) would form a group of the finest people and most accomplished professionals I would come to know. I will point out only one of them (at the risk of his certain embarrassment) because I think he is an excellent combination of all of the qualities that made our class special.

Ross Rudolph, a well respected trial lawyer and mediator who has practiced in Evansville for the past 30+ years, quickly became a very close friend. In short order during the Fall of 1977, Ross displayed his true colors. He had diligently prepared a typed outline (at a time you had to use White-Out to make even a simple correction) that he updated daily based upon the assigned reading in Contracts I and that he supplemented with his handwritten class notes. When Prof. Kelso told us he would give us a midterm so that we would have an appreciation for what it would be like to take a law school final before the end of the first semester rolled around, Ross offered to give a couple of us a copy of his outline in order to assist with our exam preparation. Almost immediately, it seemed as if copies were being made for our entire Contracts class. In short, Ross was happy to lose his hard-earned competitive advantage in order to lend a helping hand to his classmates. He was (and is) the model of a person who does things for the greater good at the sacrifice of personal gain. He was (and is) the consummate “team player”. He wanted to do well, but not at anyone else’s expense. Scott Turow must not have had a classmate like Ross.

Over the course of my 30 years of practice, I have been constantly reminded that the ability to practice law before, with and even against principled people with common “Hoosier values” is an immeasurable blessing that makes suffering through Indiana winters bearable. I had similar thoughts as I sat on the podium in January to witness President Mike Hebenstreit’s installation. As his family looked on with pride, I recognized how fortunate our bar association is to be led by someone who (like my classmate Ross Rudolph) is equipped with the full complement of the most important skills that a Hoosier lawyer can possess. When the going gets tough, I simply reflect on how fortunate I was to land in such a welcoming place chocked full of people of great character.

Part of that package is the unselfish desire to help those most in need. We are blessed to participate in a noble profession that gives us the ability to provide for those who depend upon us. I ask each of you to tap into that sense of altruism by generously supporting the Indianapolis Bar Foundation. It is as simple as going to the Indianapolis Bar Foundation website ( to donate online or to call Megan Keever at the Bar Foundation office (269-2000) to tell her that you would like to make a pledge. Rest assured, the Foundation will put your generosity to good use.

Ain’t it great to live in Indiana? …•


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues