ILNews

New MCBA president discusses role of minority bar

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

While the Marion County Bar Association was originally founded in the 1920s as an answer to other bar associations that didn't allow minority members to join, the organization remains relevant as a support system to its members and a voice for minority attorneys in central Indiana.

Supporting its membership and the community at large are among the goals of the MCBA for 2010, led by the recently installed president, Dana Phillips, a staff attorney for the Indiana Department of Child Services.

For Phillips, this is the second time she's taken over as leader of an organization from her law school classmate, Ryan Gardner.

Gardner has known Phillips since his second year of law school at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis, and the two served together on the Student Bar Association.

"After my year as SBA president, I had the honor of passing the gavel to Dana, and she did a wonderful job," Gardner said. "I was pleased to have been able to do so again for the MCBA.

"Dana works extremely hard and has earned the respect of the MCBA Board. I believe that she will do a wonderful job as the organization's next president," he added.

Gardner will remain involved with the MCBA on the board of directors. He, other past presidents, and board members will also support Phillips in her new role. She met with them to learn about what to expect and how to continue the organization's goals she and they think will best serve their members and the community.

One initiative she plans to see MCBA continue is its outreach efforts to law schools around the state.

"All students in Indiana potentially come to Indianapolis to work," she said.

MCBA has been working with Indiana's four law schools to let students know about the benefits of joining the association, including mentor opportunities and job announcements directly from the membership.

MCBA will continue a few programs to help younger students as well. One program works with high schools to help students fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which has helped a number of students see they can attend college even if they didn't go to the best school or earn the highest grades.

MCBA is also involved with Shortridge Magnet High School for Law and Public Policy, which became a magnet school at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year. Phillips said an MCBA member is on that school's board, and another has a child attending the school.

For these and other reasons, she said MCBA has made itself available to the school to help with their needs and to nurture the students.

MCBA will also continue its Boys' Rites of Passage and Girls' Rites of Passage programs that provide mentoring opportunities, character development, and educational resources for boys and girls from elementary to high school.

Beyond these opportunities, MCBA offers support to all members, she said.

For instance, a revamped initiative is a group that will offer support to solo and small-firm attorneys. The reality, Phillips said, is many minority attorneys may start their careers at medium or large firms, but very few remain in those firms for various reasons and end up starting their own shops.

She added some members have reported that they get frustrated with their employers when they think they're on the partnership track but then see someone from another firm - possibly with less experience - join their firm with partner status.

For some MCBA members who have seen this happen, they have decided to hang their shingles as solos. There are also other members who lost their jobs due to hard economic times and have decided to become solo practitioners.

Or, as in Gardner's case, he enjoyed working for his former firm, LewisWagner, and would recommend others work there, but he decided to change up his practice areas.

With this new initiative, she said, for whatever reason members became solo attorneys, they'll have a support system for referrals and someone to vent to from time to time.

As a government attorney, she said she's enjoyed a healthy support system, and understands the need for all attorneys to feel like they can talk to someone who's had the same experiences.

It's also one of the reasons why MCBA is still relevant even though its members can join the Indiana State Bar Association and Indianapolis Bar Association now, while they couldn't when MCBA was founded in the 1920s, she said.

In fact, MCBA has been communicating with other bar associations, she added, including the Kimbrough Bar Association, a minority bar association in Lake County; the National Bar Association, the umbrella organization to minority bars around the country; and the ISBA.

Roderick Morgan, a former MCBA president and the current and first African-American president of ISBA, weighed in on how ISBA will work with the specialty bar associations.

"You can't deny the history," he said. "The reason the MCBA was founded is because minority attorneys were not permitted to join the Indianapolis Bar Association or the Indiana State Bar Association. ... So some of that tension remains. I think it's diminishing, and we're trying to work closer. In the areas where we can cooperate, we do."

Morgan is.

"She and I share the same theory," Morgan, a partner at Bingham McHale in Indianapolis, said about Phillips. "We're all lawyers in the same small state and small town and want to do the same things. There are some positions the bar associations can disagree on, and that's OK."

One of those issues is the discussion of whether judges should be chosen by merit selection, as it is in a handful of counties, instead of elections, as is the case in the majority of Indiana counties.

Phillips said she wants MCBA to have a voice in the discussion because merit selection has been historically harmful to promoting diversity on the bench. She added that urban counties might not have as much of an issue as smaller counties with having diversity in their judges if merit selection becomes the norm across the state.

"I look forward to working with her and all the bar associations in the state to improve relationships and communication," Morgan said. "Whatever assets we have, we can share. All boats rise with the tide."

For example, ISBA provides scholarships to specialty bars to attend the American Bar Association's Leadership Institute in Chicago. One of those scholarships will go to MCBA, he said, and one will go to Kimbrough Bar Association.

"Dana will do a good job as president," Morgan said. "She has a good energy. She has some good ideas and a great support group."

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Thanks Jim. We surprised ourselves with the first album, so we did a second one. We are releasing it 6/30/17 at the HiFi. The reviews so far are amazing! www.itsjustcraig.com Skope Mag: It’s Just Craig offers a warm intimacy with the tender folk of “Dark Corners”. Rather lovely in execution, It’s Just Craig opts for a full, rich sound. Quite ornate instrumentally, the songs unfurl with such grace and style. Everything about the album feels real and fully lived. By far the highlight of the album are the soft smooth reassuring vocals whose highly articulate lyrics have a dreamy quality to them. Stories emerge out of these small snapshots of reflective moments.... A wide variety of styles are utilized, with folk anchoring it but allowing for chamber pop, soundtrack work, and found electronics filtering their way into the mix. Without a word, It’s Just Craig sets the tone of the album with the warble of “Intro”. From there things get truly started with the hush of “Go”. Building up into a great structure, “Go” has a kindness to it. Organs glisten in the distance on the fragile textures of “Alone” whose light melody adds to the song’s gorgeousness. A wonderful bloom of color defines the spaciousness of “Captain”. Infectious grooves take hold on the otherworldly origins of “Goodnight” with precise drum work giving the song a jazzy feeling. Hazy to its very core is the tragedy of “Leaving Now”. By far the highlight of the album comes with the closing impassioned “Thirty-Nine” where many layers of sound work together possessing a poetic quality.

  2. what a wonderful world we are living, i still doubt this spell caster how he did it!!! i am Tamara Barrow am from USA I am so happy to let the whole word know how this powerful spell caster saved my marriage.Everything was going down the drain as my husband can not stop cheating on me with other women. It became used to always heating on me. I tried to make him stop, but I couldn't help the situation, the more I tried, the harder it becomes. At times we will fight and go apart for some months and we will come back again just because of our kids. One day a friend told me about this spell caster who helped her too, his name is Dr.voodoo, she said he uses white magic spells to solve spiritual problems. I decided to give it a try, I contacted him and he told me it will take just 2 to 3 days and I will see great changes in my husband. He actually cast a spell, believe me after 2 to 3 days of the spell, my husband was confessing different names of woman he has slept with. He begged for forgiveness and never to try it again. From that day till now, my mind is at rest. My husband dislike every other women on earth except me. And am so happy to have him for myself alone.The spell caster’s contact his email at: voodoospelltemple66@gmail.com visit his website on http://drvodoospelltemple.webs.com

  3. Andrew, if what you report is true, then it certainly is newsworthy. If what you report is false, then it certainly is newsworthy. Any journalists reading along??? And that same Coordinator blew me up real good as well, even destroying evidence to get the ordered wetwork done. There is a story here, if any have the moxie to go for it. Search ADA here for just some of my experiences with the court's junk yard dog. https://www.scribd.com/document/299040062/Brown-ind-Bar-memo-Pet-cert Yep, drive by shootings. The lawyers of the Old Dominion got that right. Career executions lacking any real semblance of due process. It is the ISC way ... under the bad shepard's leadership ... and a compliant, silent, boot-licking fifth estate.

  4. Journalism may just be asleep. I pray this editorial is more than just a passing toss and turn. Indiana's old boy system of ruling over attorneys is cultish. Unmask them oh guardians of democracy.

  5. Banana.Republic

ADVERTISEMENT