President shares MCBA goals

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Minority bar associations continue to benefit the Indiana legal community by offering diverse perspectives. Members benefit from networking opportunities, and the bars help to maintain a positive professional presence in the communities they serve. Presidents of the two largest minority bar associations in Indiana, the Marion County Bar Association in Indianapolis and the James Kimbrough Bar Association in northwest Indiana, said they and their members are committed to continuing their missions on these fronts.

Felicia Howells of the Indianapolis firm Roberts & Bishop, was sworn in as president of the MCBA March 9. Shelice Tolbert of Kopka Pinkus Dolin & Eads in Crown Point, has served as the Kimbrough Bar Association president since June 2010.

mcba Indianapolis attorney Felicia Howells looks forward to her term as the 2011 president of the Marion County Bar Association. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Howells got involved with the MCBA early in her legal career through the efforts of 2007 MCBA President Jimmie McMillian of Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis. In 2010, Howells served as co-secretary with Lakesha Triggs, a Marion County deputy prosecutor.

As president she hopes to grow the bar’s membership, which has remained steady over the years, and to keep current members engaged. While the bar association has a few hundred paid members, not all are actively involved and she wants to make sure that all MCBA members are aware of the opportunities that exist.

Another of Howells’ goals is to keep the MCBA engaged with the community, including the Boys’ Rites of Passage and Girls’ Rites of Passage programs for students who are 8 to 14 years old. She is on the lookout for other opportunities that will allow the MCBA membership to give children and young adults a chance to speak with a lawyer or judge about legal careers.

The MCBA, in cooperation with the Center Township Trustee’s Office in Indianapolis, will soon start offering legal advice to the community.

jeffrey lind Lind

She added the MCBA will continue to work with law students, particularly members of the Black Law Student Association at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis. Members of that organization attend MCBA meetings and network with MCBA members, she said.

Past presidents of the MCBA, including Indianapolis attorney Ryan Gardner, president in 2009, and McMillian said they had similar goals for the organization while serving as president and are confident in Howells’ abilities to continue the organization’s tradition of serving members and the community.

“Felicia became really involved with the MCBA a few years ago. She immediately took the helm of the College Application Drive Committee and did a wonderful job putting together two programs. Her dedication to the organization is readily apparent in everything she does. She quickly gained the respect of our members,” Gardner said.

McMillian agreed.

“I think she’ll do a fantastic job,” he said. “She has a lot of energy and enthusiasm, particularly in respect to uniting and coordinating lawyers in MCBA to match them with resources to improve their abilities to practice law.”

Partnerships are important for minority bar associations, McMillian said. For example, the MCBA helped Howells learn about a scholarship to attend the Indiana State Bar Association’s Solo and Small Firm Conference.

“The strength of the MCBA has been its ability to partner with other organizations – the Indianapolis Bar Association and the Indiana State Bar Association – so members of all organizations can benefit from our perspectives and the perspectives of others in an organized fashion,” he said.

McMillian McMillian

Howells said she would also like the MCBA to partner with other professional groups beyond the legal community that focus on minorities.

Jeffry Lind, president of the ISBA, said he welcomes the opportunity to work with minority bar associations like Kimbrough and the MCBA.

“The Indiana State Bar Association is mindful that all bar associations are valuable,” he said. “We have tried to spread the word that if any bar association needs our help, please contact us. While monetary resources are more scarce in this economic environment than any of us can remember in our recent past, the ISBA has resources that transcend monetary resources. Our contacts, knowledge from years of bar work, and a membership all over the state may well allow us to assist another bar association accomplish something it hopes to try to (do for) the first time.

“Additionally, bar associations with a project or event that they are very proud of should, please, give us a call. We hope to spread the word about great things that the bar associations in Indiana are accomplishing in their communities,” he said.

Tolbert said that the Kimbrough Bar has also maintained a good relationship with the Lake County Bar Association. It has partnered with the Hispanic Bar Association and the Women’s Bar Association, both in Northwest Indiana.

In some cases, the Kimbrough Bar has supplemented what the Lake County Bar does, such as the Law Day program. The 2011 Law Day program, which will take place April 29, will have programming by the Kimbrough Bar in Gary, while the Lake County Bar Association will have programs in other communities in northwest Indiana.

The bar has also partnered with a re-entry program in northwest Indiana, Triumphant Transitions.

ryan gardner Gardner

As far as the continuing relevance of minority bars, McMillian and Howells pointed out two recent appointments of African-American women to the federal bench, calling this a historic time.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt was sworn in as the first African-American federal judge in Indiana on June 25, 2010. She serves in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. That court also announced Feb. 28 the appointment of Indianapolis attorney Denise K. LaRue, who is scheduled to begin her term April 1.

The Kimbrough Bar’s annual dinner on April 21 will honor African-American members of the judiciary in Indiana, Tolbert said. Contact her for more information at 219-794-1888.

McMillian said that efforts of the MCBA to encourage diversity in the bench and bar have contributed to these and other nominations of minorities.

“We’re giving people a different perspective,” he said, adding sometimes it’s just the bar’s membership working one-on-one with others in the legal community. “Sometimes real change happens over lunch or over coffee by having an open and honest conversation about the challenges both sides face.”

As for her term as president of the MCBA, Howells said, “I’m looking forward to this opportunity for growth and looking forward to working with our membership.”

She encouraged anyone who wants to get involved to e-mail her at for membership information.•


Post a comment to this story

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
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

  2. Steele did more than what is listed too. He purposely sought out to ruin me, calling potential employers and then lied about me alleging all kinds of things including kidnapping. None of his allegations were true. If you are in need of an ethical and very knowledgeable family law paralegal, perhaps someone could post their contact information. Ethics cannot be purchased, either your paralegal has them or they do not.

  3. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise