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New ISBA committee promotes healthy living for lawyers

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Attorney Michael Gabovitch said he generally works from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, plus a few hours on the weekend. The busy father of four doesn’t have much free time, but he’s found a way to make time for fitness.

Gabovitch used to exercise in the evenings. But because his office at Katz & Korin in downtown Indianapolis is just a few blocks from the fitness center in the OneAmerica Tower, he found that he could make better use of his time exercising during the day.
 

gabovitch-michael-mug.jpg Gabovitch

“Whenever I find I have an ability to sneak out for a little while, I head over there,” he said.

Gabovitch is among a handful of attorneys who use the equipment in the downtown gym. And incoming Indiana State Bar Association president C. Erik Chickedantz would like to see more lawyers finding time to get away from their desks.

Chickedantz has spearheaded the bar’s new Wellness Committee in an effort to promote a healthy lifestyle for attorneys.

“The idea behind this is not to tell judges and lawyers how they ought to live their lives,” he said. “But being a lawyer, being a judge is, for a number of reasons, a high-stress environment. High stress over a period of time has a lot of byproducts, and most of them are bad.”

To each his own

Mark Waterfill works in the OneAmerica building at Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff.

Three to four days a week, he puts in 30 or 45 minutes on the gym’s treadmill or elliptical trainer.
 

waterfill-mark-15col.jpg Mark Waterfill, partner at Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff, takes a late-afternoon break to exercise in the OneAmerica Tower fitness center. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

“I’m not the picture of a fitness person – I’m a low-impact fitness person,” he said. “My doctor recommended, rather than trying to go on some kind of strict diet, to just try to make sure that I exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week – and that could be walking briskly, riding a bike or pushing a lawn mower – along with muscle strengthening. Body-weight exercises like push ups and sit ups can be part of a weekly muscle-strengthening program. And while the CDC recommendations may sound overwhelming, breaking up exercise into 10-minute increments may make it more manageable.

Collateral benefits

In addition to feeling physically healthier, Gabovitch sees other benefits to regular exercise.

“Even more so than the physical benefit is just the mental benefits of knowing you’re doing something for yourself – getting exhausted and sweatinfitness-time.gifg is just therapeutic, and I think it helps keep you sharp not only physically, but mentally,” he said.

Taking time away from the office to exercise allows him to be alone with his thoughts, Gabovitch explained, while not having to worry about incoming calls or other matters.

“That time that I’m working out during the day is one of the few times during the day where I’m really by myself,” he said.

Chickedantz, who was a runner when he was younger but now gets much of his exercise through golf and trips to the gym, also understands the mental benefits of exercise.

“Google ‘regular exercise’ and ‘stress,’ and you’ll find that it helps reduce stress in most people,” he said. “It’s not rocket science.”

Chickedantz said that he admires the Indiana Supreme Court Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. Attorneys who run afoul of codes of conduct and end up in JLAP support programs could possibly have avoided those problems by being better to their bodies – exercising, eating properly, drinking alcohol only in moderation and giving up smoking.

“(JLAP) gets involved when the horse has bolted out of the barn,” Chickedantz said. “So last year, we thought, let’s think of doing something proactive.” JLAP executive director Terry Harrell is a member of the Wellness Committee.

Chickedantz said that the Wellness Committee is still a work in progress, but it has developed a wellness plan law firms can adopt.

Wellness in the workplace

Stephanie Smithey, an attorney for Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, often helps companies craft wellness plans, and it’s a practice that’s caught on in recent years, she said.

“In the early 90s, nobody ever talked about wellness plans,” she said. “After the 90s, you started hearing about this as a concept, and little by little, employers started initiating this in the workplace.”
 

smithey-stephanie-mug.jpg Smithey

Smithey, co-author of the Indiana Employer’s Guide to Workplace Wellness, said any company that is considering developing a formal workplace wellness plan – one that ties employee health to reduced health care premiums – should seek the input of an attorney familiar with that area of law. But plans that are not directly tied to insurer discounts are relatively easy to put together, she said.

“Let’s say you’re a law firm, and you want to have an annual wellness fair – that can be a very informal program,” she said. “There are going to be very few hoops to jump through.” But she said that if an employer were to offer a health insurance discount to someone who tests within a healthy blood pressure range, that would introduce a “whole range of laws” that employers would need to carefully consider.

Neither Gabovitch nor Waterfill work at firms with wellness plans, they said, although Gabovitch said he’s developing a proposal for such a plan to be implemented next year.

What’s next

The Wellness Committee kicked off events at the ISBA’s annual meeting this year with a 5K run/walk. About 40 people attended, and Chickedantz said, “We’re hopeful that a couple years from now, we may have hundreds.”
healthy-eating.gif
The committee will look at ways to partner with other similar events that already have a robust following, like the Susan G. Komen For the Cure race.

Creating and organizing new fitness events is a lot of work, and Indianapolis already has quite a few of those, Chickedantz said. “So our idea was to try to be a small-time collaborator with those events and try to get as many lawyers, judges, law students involved, and at least have a presence.”

Chickedantz said the committee is also working to develop wellness committees in Indiana’s four law schools because law students also encounter a lot of stress in their academic pursuits.

Waterfill said that lawyers, for their own well being, must learn how to break away from their work.

“We get so wrapped up in our work that, a lot of times, it’s hard to make yourself do that,” he said.

Chickedantz agrees that simply making a commitment to get moving can have a profound positive impact on personal health. For example, he said that regardless of anyone’s political views, people would be hard-pressed to disagree with the principles of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, which aims to curb childhood obesity by advocating for healthier eating and increased physical activity.

“If the whole society would pick up on that idea – and this is a big overgeneralization – the healthcare problems that we’ve got today, 30 or 40 years from now, would go away if people across the board would focus on wellness,” he said. “The best health insurance policy as far as I’m concerned is to not get sick, stay healthy.”•

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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