“Common,” as in shared by two or more people or as in done often or not rare. Common can also mean belonging to or affecting the whole of a community as in common land. These definitions capture the spirit of the members of our Bar; I witnessed this first-hand recently through an initiative called Common Goal.
Several months ago, the IBA was approached by the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce to host two “at-risk” high school interns who expressed an interest in the law. Appreciating the importance of this program, the Executive Director of the Bar, Julie Armstrong, and I agreed to shepherd these two young girls through a law-related experience that would be fitting for our Association.
Time being the scarcest commodity for our profession, I have always maintained that lawyers are as giving as they are busy. Despite clogged calendars, trial schedules, and a multitude of other commitments, they always manage to squeeze in volunteer time; this internship was no exception. I envisioned a schedule for my student, Cheyenne, that would expose her to different areas of the law through various bar leaders. When I picked up the phone to call on IBA members to spend an afternoon or a day with a high school student, the answer from all was the same and without hesitation: yes.
From criminal law, family practice, bar review and law school lectures, civil matters, and a “view from the bench,” the internship provided an 80-hour behind-the-scenes, real-life look at the legal profession. Whether a lunch and encouraging dialogue, or a full-day of shadowing, our attorneys and judges did the Bar proud and I extend my appreciation to Kelly Scanlan, Erin Durnell, Jimmie McMillian, the Honorable Heather Welch, Marie Castetter, the Honorable Robyn Moberly, and Nissa Ricafort.
In a recent newspaper article, Cheyenne credited her internship experience as energizing her longtime goal of becoming a lawyer. As a 15-year-old mother with much on her plate, Cheyenne chose to spend her summer days learning about the law. Despite having to rely on others for transportation, she showed up on time, well mannered and eager to see what the day would hold for her. As much as she learned from her experience with the Bar, she likewise left something behind for me: a renewed sense of pride in a profession that encourages “yes” even with a jam-packed schedule, and a reminder of the importance of mentoring.
Whether to a high school student, a law student or a young lawyer who is new to the courtroom, taking that extra step to involve, engage, and lead is part and parcel of what we do as lawyers and judges. The importance of this was crystallized recently at a board meeting where a member lamented the death of a lawyer who helped to shape his early law career. He remarked that three lawyers spoke at the service, all of whom credited the attorney with being their mentor. He commented that he hoped we have not lost that in this day and age. I can assure you that we have not and this internship experience assures me of that.
As an IBA member, I encourage you to take someone under your wing and show them the ropes, answer a question, have lunch with a young lawyer, attend the IBA Law Student Division Summer Connection on July 29th and the Mentors Who Matter lunch in September. Continue to mentor and continue daily to be an inspiration to others. Although common can also mean “without special qualities or ordinary,” this is one definition that does not apply to the members of our Bar.•