Women, young attorneys raise their profiles in ITLA

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Kathy Farinas and Amy Davis share a common interest in their respective roles as leaders of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association’s Women Lawyers and Young Lawyers caucuses — service to the community.

farinas-kathy-mug Farinas

Both women said providing opportunities for attorneys in their sections to volunteer with organizations such as Gleaners Food Bank, the Julian Center, Dress for Success and other nonprofits is central to the groups’ missions.

“We’re getting more involved in community outreach projects, and that’s something I want this group to be more representative of,” said Farinas, a partner at the Indianapolis firm George & Farinas LLP. She and Davis, an attorney at Keller & Keller LLP, agreed that the groups are seeing good results in partnering on several community service efforts.

Davis said the Young Lawyers Caucus also wants to expand those efforts outside Indianapolis. “We want young lawyers to take our plans going forward and implement them in their areas of the state,” she said.

Terre Haute attorney Kyle Ring of the Williams Law Firm is a member of the Young Lawyers Caucus. He said he’s seen more lawyers from around the state getting involved in ITLA volunteer efforts and social functions in and around Indianapolis. He thinks young trial lawyers elsewhere would welcome opportunities to do the same in their communities.

“In the last couple of years, I’ve really enjoyed the additional social events and volunteer opportunities,” Ring said. “I do want to see more chances for everyone around the state to participate in social events and volunteer events. … Not only is it a great chance to give a couple of hours to help Hoosier families, it’s a nice benefit for us. You feel good having spent your time that way.”

Farinas and Davis said their respective caucuses also plan to take on a challenge that certainly could have volunteer opportunities statewide. The groups jointly plan to train volunteer members to serve as court appointed special advocates and guardians ad litem.

focus-itla-image2-forweb-15col.jpg Gleaners Food Bank is among the nonprofits that ITLA and its Women Lawyers and Young Lawyers caucuses assist. Volunteers above, from left, are Tim Devereux, Amy Davis, Megan Caudill, Ashley Canan, Dustin Fregiato, Cathy Black, Mark Ladendorf and Alex Limontes. (Photo courtesy of Amy Davis)

“CASA and CHINS programs are overwhelmed,” Farinas said. “There are more kids to care for and manage than we have people.”

Said Davis, “I feel like lawyers are helpers generally, but I don’t think the community really perceives us that way. … It’s good when we can get out and let the community know, we’re not just there when you get in trouble or get hurt. We’re there all the time.”

Seeking fresh faces

Farinas has been involved in ITLA for more than a decade, and she said in those years she’s seen more women become involved and active in the organization. “I think even 10 years ago, in looking around the room now, yes, there are definitely more females,” she said. “We want to get more women to join the Women’s Caucus and more people to join the ITLA.

“It’s a place where female trial lawyers can exchange ideas, and to work in what in the past has been a male-dominated profession. We’re much more accepted and respected based on our abilities rather than the fact that we’re female,” Farinas said. “We’re good trial lawyers who also happen to be female.”

There are 104 members of the Women’s Caucus, roughly 10 percent of the approximately 1,000 members of the organization, according to ITLA executive director Jason Bell. However, Farinas said the 215 members of the Young Lawyers Caucus are more representative of the larger population.

Davis said the Young Lawyers Caucus provides unmatched networking opportunities and professional support for members of the plaintiffs’ bar, including regular opportunities to practice trial skills.

Bell said the value of the ITLA is in its members, and Davis agreed.

“I’m always surprised at how much people are willing to help in an industry where you’re kind of competing against each other,” she said. “It’s such a welcoming environment.”

Davis said, for instance, ITLA’s Listservs can help young lawyers gain insights from those who’ve practiced before particular judges or opposing counsel. It’s not unusual to receive five or six responses when she asks about a particular subject.

Ring Ring

“I don’t think there’s been a single time I asked a question where I didn’t get some sort of response that day,” she said.

Ring said he’s seen younger lawyers becoming more active in the organization, whether it’s participating on Listservs, speaking at seminars or in other ways.

“Probably the main thing I get out of being involved in the trial lawyers association is the chance to talk and interact with so many different attorneys who do the same thing we do and have the shared interest,” he said.


Earlier in her career when she was trying to gain courtroom experience, Davis said she asked ITLA colleagues if they had any upcoming trials she could observe, and that gave her a feel for the courtroom. She admitted that in law school, she’d been a bit afraid of the courtroom. Back then, she never anticipated becoming a litigator and wanted to be more involved in the political and lobbying areas of law. Working in a trial law firm one summer changed that.

“I started doing this work and realizing these people I was working with really were hurt and needed someone to tell their story, and it clicked that this is what I wanted to do,” she said. “For me, it’s very rewarding to be part of a profession where you get to help people every day.”

She said ITLA has been indispensable. From simple forms to complex litigation matters, “Ninety percent of what I know is because I have reached out to attorneys that are part of this association.”

Farinas said she hopes to emulate the American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) in boosting representation of women in the organization. Women now make up 20 percent of that organization, and she believes the ITLA can follow suit.

Bell said such efforts can only help the organization. “The strength of the association is based on the strength of our members,” he said. “Everything they do helps protect the 7th Amendment and Hoosiers’ access to courts.”•


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. The voices of the prophets are more on blogs than subway walls these days, Dawn. Here is the voice of one calling out in the wilderness ... against a corrupted judiciary ... that remains corrupt a decade and a half later ... due to, so sadly, the acquiescence of good judges unwilling to shake the forest ... for fear that is not faith ..

  2. So I purchased a vehicle cash from the lot on West Washington in Feb 2017. Since then I found it the vehicle had been declared a total loss and had sat in a salvage yard due to fire. My title does not show any of that. I also have had to put thousands of dollars into repairs because it was not a solid vehicle like they stated. I need to find out how to contact the lawyers on this lawsuit.

  3. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  4. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  5. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.