The incoming president of the Indiana State Bar Association arrives with a great deal of experience serving in the organization and a solid reputation for being a consensus builder. Undoubtedly, he will often call upon these two traits as he charts a new course for the association’s leadership.
Daniel Vinovich, a partner at Hilbrich Law Firm in Highland, will be inducted as the president of ISBA at the association’s annual meeting assembly luncheon Oct. 26. He was president of the Lake County Bar Association in 2000 and has served on a wide variety of committees as well as in the House of Delegates and on the board of governors for the state bar.
Colleagues and friends describe Vinovich as being a talented lawyer, an energetic volunteer for the bar associations and someone who is willing to listen to other views and opinions.
“The lawyers around the state of Indiana who don’t know him will soon get the opportunity to see what a passionate, civil and astute leaders he is,” said Michael Jasaitis, president-elect of the Lake County Bar Association. “He will always look out for the lawyers who practice here in our state. I am confident that the members of our state bar will see him as a servant leader.”
As Vinovich takes his place in the president’s chair, he will bring a new approach to the leadership of the ISBA. Specifically, he will forgo the traditional one-year project that association leaders typically champion and, instead, launch a three-year initiative that will span his term as president as well as the presidential tenures of James Dimos and Jeff Hawkins.
The multi-year initiative will focus on three main areas: member benefits, governance and diversity. Vinovich touted the multi-year effort, a model promoted by the American Bar Association, as a way to keep a sustained emphasis on three objectives and not forget about them after one year.
“I would say the ultimate goal would be to create a more diverse leadership with an increased number of members and greater involvement of leadership throughout the state,” he said.
The goals for the next three years were developed from insights gleaned from focus groups convened in 10 sites around the state where members and nonmembers were asked what was good about the association, what was wrong with the association, and how the association could better serve them. In addition, Vinovich, Dimos, Hawkins and other members of the ISBA met and worked together to identify issues and concerns.
Dimos, incoming president-elect, said he is excited about the three-year initiative and hopes it will become a model that future ISBA leaders will embrace.
“My year as president isn’t about me and what I want to do,” Dimos said. “As leaders we ought to be serving the association. Our charge is doing what is important for the association’s continued success and vibrancy.”
During his tenure, Vinovich wants to make significant strides in meeting those goals and be “solidly moving” forward. Some objectives will be achieved immediately, he said, and others will take longer and, in fact, become “perpetual goals” that the association is always working toward.
He is confident the focus on membership, governance and diversity can be sustained over three presidencies because the three leaders worked together to identify the issues, and they are all committed to making a concerted effort to achieve the related goals.
Dimos echoed that confidence.
“I’m very comfortable working with Dan and Jeff, and I think we’ll have a very open relationship that will allow for good communication,” Dimos said. “We may not always agree, but I think we’ll be able to reach a consensus and it won’t be disagreeable.”
Vinovich’s skill at building consensus, something that is often mentioned by other attorneys, will likely be called upon a lot as he moves the association forward.
Both outgoing ISBA president C. Erik Chickedantz and South Bend attorney William Jonas highlighted Vinovich’s ability to bring people together and reach common ground.
Jonas, ISBA president in 2009, saw that consensus-building ability when he and Vinovich worked closely a few years ago to defend the merit-selection process for judges in Lake and St. Joseph counties. At that time, Indiana General Assembly was eyeing the process for elimination; however, Jonas credited Vinovich with navigating the politics and persuading the governor to squash the bill.
“He’s going to be a dynamic and likeable president,” Jonas said. “I think in a lot of ways he is ideal to be president of the state bar.”
Vinovich grew up in Northwest Indiana and after completing a double major in political science and history at Purdue University, he entered the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, graduating in 1990.
He is a trial lawyer who has been with his law firm for more than 20 years. Clyde Compton, an attorney in Merrillville, has known Vinovich for 30 years and believes the talent Vinovich has displayed in the courtroom will help him as president. Namely, he understands the issues facing practicing attorneys, and he is committed to helping them become better lawyers.
Moreover, Compton is proud that Northwest Indiana is sending one of its own to the top job at the ISBA.
“Dan is an outstanding lawyer who will represent this corner of the state well,” he said.
Jasaitis is one young attorney who has called upon Vinovich for advice and guidance. He credits the incoming ISBA president with helping him become better at practicing law and at working within the Lake County and State bar associations.
“I’m proud to say he is an attorney from Lake County that is going to serve as president of the state bar,” he said. “He’s not only a good friend, he is a loyal mentor. He’s an attorney that I model myself after both in the bar associations and in private practice.”
A resident of Crown Point, Vinovich and his wife, Jennifer, have two children. When he is not working or doing business for the bar association, he is active in his community and often enjoys a round of golf, a sport he shares with his wife who played for Purdue University. But he fears his game may become a bit rusty during the year ahead.
“Unfortunately, I think I may have to hang up the sticks for a little while,” Vinovich said. “(Being ISBA president is) going to take a lot of time, but I’m honored. I’m excited about the upcoming year.”•