ILNews

IBA: Peters strives mightily in law

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share


It's probably not surprising to those who know Steve Peters that he quoted Shakespeare while talking about his legal career. But many people might not know that Peters, a civil litigator with Harrison & Moberly LLP, was a self-professed math and English geek in high school and college.

He grew up in Charlestown, Ind., and attended high school at The Webb School, a boarding school in Bell Buckle, Tenn. He could have graduated a year early, but instead took college math classes at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill over the summer and came back to The Webb School for his senior year. Even though he'd always been considered mature for his years, he wisely determined he wasn't ready for the temptations life on a college campus presented.

He double majored in English and economics at Amherst College, graduating with honors, and came back to Indiana for law school at Indiana University in Bloomington. Peters is the chair of the IBA's Litigation Section and has served as a member of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation Board of Directors, a member of the Bench Bar Committee and the Appellate Practice Section Executive Committee.

His love of the language and of all things analytical has served him well during his career, which started as an intern with the late Hon. S. Hugh Dillin of the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis and then to the firm known as Stewart Irwin Gilliom Fuller & Meyer, now Stewart & Irwin PC.

Peters was with Stewart & Irwin until 2006, when he joined Harrison & Moberly. His primary litigation and appellate practice is in the areas of insurance coverage, employment/labor and complex business disputes.

The Shakespeare quote? It's from "The Taming of the Shrew" (Act 1, Scene 2) and seems to sum it all up for Peters: "And do as adversaries do in law - Strive mightily but eat and drink as friends."

IBA: What motivated you to become a lawyer?

Peters: No one in my family was a lawyer. When I was at The Webb School, I became friends with Wilson Sims Jr., whose father was a founding partner with Bass Berry Sims, a firm in Nashville, Tenn. I got to know his dad who was also on Webb's Board of Trustees. To pass each year's English requirements, we had to give a memorized speech. During graduation week, there was a school-wide contest for the best declamation. Wilson Sims Sr. heard me speak and told me I would make a fine lawyer. So that planted the seed.

IBA: What is your favorite legal phrase or terminology and why?

Peters: I have always thought that lawyers tend to use Latin in court and in briefs like squids use ink: it tends to obscure, not clarify arguments. We lawyers have a hard enough time using English. So I try to stay away from Latin phrases and legalese if possible.

IBA: What would you tell a 5-year-old if he or she asked "What is a lawyer?"

Peters: In simple terms, I view a lawyer as a solver of problems, someone who makes peace and avoids a fight. But lawyers are also people who will stand up and fight for what's right if peace cannot be made. So we are peace-loving fighters.

IBA: Decaf or caffeinated?

Peters: Decaf. Although I just realized I didn't specify when someone offered me this cup of coffee.

IBA: What is your most memorable case or client?

Peters: During my legal career, I have handled over 100 appeals in Indiana and other jurisdictions, so there are a couple that come to mind. But the most significant is probably Webb v. Jarvis, which the Indiana Supreme Court handed down in 1991. I was Dr. Webb's appellate attorney and I formulated and advocated the three-part test which the court adopted to determine whether there is an actionable duty of care to maintain a negligence claim. The Webb duty analysis test is a basic rule under Indiana tort law and has been cited and relied upon in many subsequent cases.

IBA: What have you downloaded most recently to your iPod?

Peters: I'm a frustrated musician; I've played the guitar since I was in sixth grade. My musical tastes are very eclectic. Lately, I've been listening to Michael Hedges, a guitarist, Al DiMeloa, Leo Kottke and Dave Matthews Band.

IBA: What is the most challenging part of being a lawyer?

Peters: Justice Cardozo once said that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened by conditions. I love lawyers, but we are also adversaries. We argue and fight, but must do so in an ethical way. At the end of the day, it's all about relationships, though. So I think the best lawyers do their jobs but form good relationships with their adversaries, if that's possible.

IBA: I am involved in the IBA because...

Peters: I think it's important to give back. We're in a profession, not a trade, and that comes with the responsibility to give back either with donations of our money or our time. Being involved in the bar makes me feel good and helps my clients because the law is about relationships. Strengthening my relationships with the bench, my colleagues and my adversaries by being involved in the IBA ulti mately helps me and my clients.

IBA: Name one thing on your desk you can't live without.


Peters: Well, the computer is too obvious. I'd have to say my iPod; when I'm working on a project, I like playing piano music in the background. Recently it's been Keith Jarrett, an improvisational jazz pianist.

IBA: Name one mentor and how he or she influenced you.

Peters: Al Meyer, James J. Stewart and Bill Irwin - I can't name just one. Also Judge Dillin. They made me a better lawyer and a better person. That's what I try to do when I mentor young lawyers now. I remember Al Meyer overheard me remark one day that I had won my first five or six jury trials in a row since being sworn in and joining the firm. He immediately took me into his office and told me, "Steve, don't ever say that again - all that means is that you're not trying enough cases."

He also taught me to be mindful of how I treated other people, because it takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but you can lose it in just one minute.

Of course, I must also add my parents for setting wonderful examples and for having faith in me. They are my heroes.
 

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. Hello everyone am precious from the united state of America am here to testify in the name of this great man who has brought back happiness into my family after my lover Chris left me for 3years for another woman,i really loved Chris because he was my first love i tried everything within my power to get Chris back to my life but people i met just kept on scamming me and lying to me,Then normally on Saturdays i do go out to make my hair and get some stuff,Then i had people discussing at the saloon if they do listen to there radio well,That there is a program (how i got back my ex)And started talking much about Dr EDDY how this man has helped lots of people in bringing back there lover,So immediately i went close to those ladies i met at the saloon and i explained things to them they said i should try and contact Dr EDDY that he has been the talk of the town and people are really contacting him for help immediately we searched on the internet and read great things about Dr EDDY i now got all Dr EDDY contact instantly at the saloon i gave Dr EDDY a call and i shared my problem with him he just told me not to worry that i should just be happy,He just told me to send him some few details which i did,And then he got back to me that everything would be okay within 36hours i was so happy then Dr EDDY did his work and he did not fail me,My lover Chris came to me in tears and apologized to me for leaving me in deep pain for good 3years,So he decided to prove that he will never leave me for any reason he made me had access to his account and made me his next of kin on all his will,Now the most perfect thing is that he can't spend a minute without seeing me or calling me,Am so grateful to Dr EDDY for bringing back the happiness which i lack for years,Please contact Dr EDDY for help he is a trustworthy man in email is dreddyspiritualtemple@gmail.com or you can call him or whatsapp him with this number...+23408160830324 (1)If you want your ex back. (2) if you always have bad dreams. (3)You want to be promoted in your office. (4)You want women/men to run after you. (5)If you want a child. (6)[You want to be rich. (7)You want to tie your husband/wife to be yours forever. (8)If you need financial assistance. (9)If you want to stop your Divorce. 10)Help bringing people out of prison. (11)Marriage Spells (12)Miracle Spells (13)Beauty Spells (14)PROPHECY CHARM (15)Attraction Spells (16)Evil Eye Spells. (17)Kissing Spell (18)Remove Sickness Spells. (19)ELECTION WINNING SPELLS. (20)SUCCESS IN EXAMS SPELLS. (21) Charm to get who to love you. CONTACT:dreddyspiritualtemple@gmail.com

  2. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  3. MELISA EVA VALUE INVESTMENT Greetings to you from Melisa Eva Value Investment. We offer Business and Personal loans, it is quick and easy and hence can be availed without any hassle. We do not ask for any collateral or guarantors while approving these loans and hence these loans require minimum documentation. We offer great and competitive interest rates of 2% which do not weigh you down too much. These loans have a comfortable pay-back period. Apply today by contacting us on E-mail: melisaeva9@gmail.com WE DO NOT ASK FOR AN UPFRONT FEE. BEWARE OF SCAMMERS AND ONLINE FRAUD.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

ADVERTISEMENT