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New project to emphasize dangers of texting while driving

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Indiana Lawyer Focus

The Indiana Trial Lawyers Association’s College of Fellows used to be a way to honor respected members of the profession. But in recent years, it has become much more.

Now beginning his second term as College of Fellows president, Steve Williams of Terre Haute’s Williams Law Firm explained the evolution of the College of Fellows.

williams-steve.jpg Williams

“It was initially just a form of recognition of outstanding trial lawyers association members, but over the last several years, we’ve chosen to make a major emphasis of the College of Fellows a yearly community service project,” he said.

The fellows previously raised $50,000 in order to create care packages for soldiers in Afghanistan. They also raised funds for a program that sent basic necessities and food home with students in need, in association with Gleaners Food Bank.

In the coming year, the fellows will take on a project that is especially important to one ITLA member.

“Last year, Neil Comer’s granddaughter was killed as a result of texting while driving, and as sometimes happens in a tragedy like this, Neil reached out to the ITLA asking that all of us use this as a learning experience with our own families and our own friends, try to use this as a teaching experience to educate families and friends, try to educate about the dangers of texting while driving,” Williams said.

Many members responded by advertising about the dangers of texting while driving. Williams said there was consensus that the issue was so important that it could be an excellent project for the College of Fellows.

The project is still in development, and several approaches have been discussed.

“We might produce an anti-texting video that could be used to reach high-school-age kids. As we’re getting into this, we’re finding that there are several videos out there – one produced by the American Association for Justice, which is a national organization of plaintiffs’ trial lawyers – so we don’t want to reinvent the wheel if there’s a good video out there. Our project may be to deliver that to high-school-age kids,” Williams said.

The fellows will work with the ITLA Young Lawyers section to implement a program by the end of 2012.

Outside the courtroom

Williams believes that many people may not realize the positive change that many ITLA members are making in their communities.

ITLA member Steven Langer, of Langer & Langer in Valparaiso, created the Porter County Reading Foundation which helps children learn to read. Indianapolis lawyer Tom Hastings of The Hastings Law Firm has offered free office space to the People’s Burn Foundation, and Bruce Kehoe of Wilson Kehoe & Winingham was one of 11 people who raised $5.5 million for a new burn center at Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis. These are just a few of the efforts initiated by ITLA members, Williams said.

One of the qualifications for inclusion in the College of Fellows is active participation in community service activities. And overall, fellows are the hardest working, most respected members of the ITLA, Williams said. Currently, only 73 attorneys are members of this prestigious group.

“I just think that the people that are in the college are very, very proud of the fact that the primary emphasis of the organization has become community service projects,” Williams said. “It’s nice to pat yourself on the back or be patted on the back about being an outstanding trial lawyer, but this really highlights what is not very well known about the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and that is so many of our members are so involved in their local communities or even on a statewide level with community service.”•
 

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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

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  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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