Indeed, this is my first column as President of the Indianapolis Bar Association–the first of many I am told–and short of some bad state fair karaoke a few years back, this is the most intimidated I’ve been in a long while, though not by my position as steward of this exceptional organization but by assuming you want to hear my musings along the way.
That being said, the Indianapolis Bar Association is an amazing place and it is doing amazing things. If I have my way (and I actually think I just might) this column will be telling you about some of those amazing things and highlighting the people that drive them. This is, has been, and indeed always will be every lawyer’s bar association. Consider this an open and extended invitation to get involved if something you read strikes your fancy.
While I am not intimidated by the role as chief steward (though I must say there are easier things to do than follow Scott Chinn in this or any other world) I am truly honored. Let me tell you why.
I am honored because the best lawyers in Indianapolis are engaged in this association; many have graciously agreed to be on my board… and I am grateful and privileged to have their expertise and advice.
I am honored because the IndyBar has a stellar reputation among metropolitan bar associations in this country as a well run, progressive, inclusive, cutting edge bar. Yes, that is a result of good leadership, but as important that is management–day to day, moment to moment, committee by committee and task by task. That is a credit to the IndyBar staff under Executive Director Julie Armstrong. In short, we are blessed.
I am the 135th president of this legal organization, which began the same year the American Bar Association was formed in Syracuse, N.Y., the same year that a telephone was first installed in the White House, and the same year that electric lights were first put into a retail store (in Philly by the way). I am honored to be following the best, the brightest, and the most committed lawyers of their generation.
I am honored because I am the sixth woman president in this bar association’s 135-year history, and I came to the IndyBar because I wanted to be part of its Women & the Law Division. That, and I was cogently mentored by the late, great Deb Hepler who was a living, breathing example that both women and men can do it all–if not always at the same time.
I am honored because I am a proud public interest lawyer. You just don’t find a lot of our kind in big metropolitan bar association leadership, and that is not a credit to me, it is a credit to those who have put their trust in me. It underlines that this legal community is diverse in its people and its practices. The fact that we are not all alike and that we do not always agree indeed makes us more open minded and thus stronger. We are over 5,000 members strong and at the same time, a force of one, with a simple mission: to serve our members, promote justice and enhance the legal profession. And folks, we have been doing that since 1878.
In 2013, we will bring this membership online CLE and accompanying resources and direct website access to your sections and committees, giving you a chance to build your IndyBar membership the way you want it. All while continuing the best work we do from monitoring the Legislature for potential changes to our justice and legal system, to responding to unfair judicial criticism, to providing exceptional pro bono and mentoring opportunities within our bar. This year we begin collaboration with IPS’s Shortridge Legal Magnet High School, providing lawyer mentors to their incoming ninth grade students and working with the federal court to hold a Naturalization Ceremony at their school doing Law Week. What a wonderful experience for kids who want to work in the area of law.
There is more, but alas these columns are limited in space. Just please know that even with as much as we do as a metro bar association, there is always room for bold improvement and change. So contact me, or Julie, or President Elect Jeff Abrams if you have thoughts. All of the “amazing things” we do now started with a thought.
Finally, thank you. Contrary to the overused witticism, I am delighted to be part of an organization that has me as its president. Here’s to a great 2013.•