IBA Bar Leader: A Graduate’s Perspective


Erin Durnell By Erin Durnel

On May 18th, I had the privilege of attending the graduation session of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader
Series Class VII. Each year, the Series class is composed of twenty-five lawyers in their third through tenth years of practice
who meet monthly from September through May. The class is further divided into five small groups, each one responsible for
planning and implementing a community service project as a requirement for successful completion of the Series. Prior to the
graduation celebration, the final session of the Series is dedicated to providing the class members with an opportunity to
give a presentation explaining their projects – including the successes and challenges that they faced in the process
– to their classmates, representatives of IBA leadership, and other special guests.

As a graduate of Bar Leader Series Class V, and a member of the Steering Committee for Classes VI, VII and next year’s
VII, I can appreciate the time and energy that the groups put into their community service projects. Every year that I observe
the final presentations, I am amazed at the quality of the projects. Every year, I am proud of the participants and their
dedication to completing the Series. And every year, I am humbled to be a part of the Bar Leader Series community.

During the graduation session, it occurred to me that many IBA members probably aren’t aware of this excellent program.
Many have no idea that each year, an ever-increasing number of worthy attorneys submit applications to compete for a spot
in the upcoming class. Many are unaware that the participants have unparalleled opportunities for professional development
and personal growth during the nine-month program.

The Series kicks off each year in August with an informal gathering to allow incoming class members to meet and interact
with Series alumni. The class then travels to Southern Indiana for an overnight retreat in September that provides concerted
leadership training and sets the stage for the rest of the program. Thereafter, the class meets monthly for half-day sessions.
Lunch discussions with special guests provide fascinating insights into the lives of community leaders. The “substantive”
portion of each monthly meeting is deliberately planned to offer both CLE and thought-provoking information about the Indianapolis
community, its history, challenges, and future.

Why does the IBA offer the Bar Leader Series, and why does the Indianapolis Bar Foundation continue to financially support
this program? Simply put, “why” can be answered by acknowledging the “who”: graduates of Bar Leader
Series are our future partners, future judges, future IBA presidents, and future community leaders.

The future isn’t very far away – graduates of the Series already serve in leadership roles in the Association
and the Foundation. By offering this program, the IBA and IBF are investing in the future of our profession by training attorneys
to be better leaders – lawyers of integrity and unwavering dedication to the practice of law. They are the “who.”
And they are a worthy “why.”


Erin Durnell is a family law attorney with Broyles Kight & Ricafort and a graduate and steering committee member
of the IBA’s Bar Leader Series.Bar Leader Graduates

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