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Stepping outside the career comfort zone

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Ice Miller LLP started its energy and utilities practice in late 2011, intent on scooping up more business on the regulatory end of the utility lawyering spectrum.

While building out such a practice takes time – rivals like Faegre Baker Daniels LLP have been fixtures at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for years – Ice Miller has already emerged as one of the few women-led utility bars in the Midwest.

No fewer than six women hold key positions at the practice. That includes the recent hiring of former IURC administrative law judge Angela Weber.
 

pashos Pashos

Not the least of these is Kay Pashos, former president of PSI Energy, now known as Duke Energy Indiana. She is one of few utility lawyers who has served as the top executive of a utility, a distinction that could give Ice an edge in growing the energy-utility practice.

“It’s people like that who understand the business issues,” said Melissa Proffitt Reese, who helped create and co-chairs the energy/utilities group at Ice. “Kay has made those kinds of decisions. That makes her unique.”

Neither Pashos nor Ice may have gotten to this point had the Northwestern University School of Law graduate not embraced an unfamiliar role at PSI. To that extent, her experience might be instructive for those unnerved about challenges ahead in their careers.

The two-year stint as president of the electric utility from 2004 to 2006 “really took me out of my comfort zone,” admitted Pashos, 54.

Suddenly, the behind-the-scenes attorney was forced into a more public role – giving speeches, dealing directly with big customer groups, and exploring economic development opportunities for the utility.

She is, after all, a career lawyer in utility regulation, and a mild-mannered one at that. Being the public face of a giant utility isn’t a natural fit for her.

“It was a good opportunity for me to stretch a bit,” she added. “I’m an introvert that is happy to be writing legal briefs.”

Douglas Esamann, a PSI colleague at the time who today is president of Plainfield-based Duke Energy Indiana, had those career discussions with Pashos before she took the president’s role.

“She would you tell that she’s still an introvert,” Esamann said.

“That [role] was probably one of the biggest things she was able to accomplish and tackle. … That was part of her development. She embraced it.”

Her career could have been relatively one-dimensional had she not taken the chance and stepped into the business side of the utility as its president.

Pashos, who attended North Central High School in Indianapolis, graduated from DePauw University with a degree in political science.

After graduating from Northwestern with a law degree in 1984, she worked as an attorney for a series of utilities, including PSI, Cinergy and Duke. In 2008, she worked 14 months at Baker & Daniels, before heading to Madison, Wis., for a role as vice president of regulatory affairs and deputy general counsel at Alliant Energy.

That role also entailed more of the executive/business operations side of the utility.

“It was kind of my dream job,” she said.

But the distance from Indianapolis was a challenge. Her husband, Neal Steinbart, is a lawyer in municipal finance at Barnes & Thornburg LLP. They have two children, one in college and one in high school.

In 2010, she left Alliant and launched her own utility consulting business, Pashos & Associates. It was enjoyable being an entrepreneur, she said, but not having to deal with IT and employee issues.

Ice Miller snapped her up soon after as it sought a seasoned lawyer for its expanding utility practice.

The electric utility industry, in particular, is facing all kinds of challenges, such as tightening federal regulations on pollutants and on greenhouse gas emissions. Utilities increasingly are turning to renewable energy, such as wind, which presents its own issues.

“The industry for the 25 years I’ve been involved is always interesting, always changing,” Pashos said.

Representing utility interests over the years has put Pashos at odds with counsel for customer groups, including Todd Richardson, a director in the utilities practice of Lewis & Kappes.

“I’d give her high marks on being experienced, intelligent and she handles herself well in the hearing room,” said Richardson, who represents industrial customers of utilities.

Ice is achieving a critical mass of attorneys on the regulatory side, Reese said. The firm is already doing some legal work for Duke on the Edwardsport coal gasification project, for example.

“Now is our time to build this into a sustainable practice,” Pashos said. “I think we have that bench strength now.”•

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This story originally appeared in the Indianapolis Business Journal.

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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