My last column begins with my favorite quote from E.B. White, which also rests on my signature line as Legal Counsel for the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
“I wake up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult.”
This quote reminds me daily to focus on the priorities in my life and to be sincerely grateful for the opportunity, because I get to be one of the lucky ones who gets to do this work. With this in mind, I owe a great deal of thanks to those who made this year a successful one for the Indianapolis Bar Association.
Let me be clear: this bar association runs HUNDREDS of programs every year—with a volunteer leadership of 29 board members and a staff of 10. With that, every year we pull off extraordinary events like the Bench Bar Conference, the Diversity Job Fair, the IndyBar Bar Review Course and the Bar Leader Series. Our sections, divisions and taskforces not only put on hundreds of hours of programming for our members every year, but they engage and give back to the legal and non-legal community because it is in line with our mission and it is the right thing to do. Our pro bono programs have served a record number of people in 2013 in designated programs, in person with Ask a Lawyer and by phone with Legal Line. This year we have matched those seeking lawyers with IndyBar lawyers in our civil and criminal modest means programs, our online IndyLawyerFinder.com, and our Lawyer Referral Service. In 2013, we took CLE online and there are now more than 100 programs available online that you can watch in the comfort of your home or office—and earn CLE while doing it.
The list goes on and on, but it bears repeating that all of this is done with a volunteer leadership of 29 board members and a staff of 10. That is amazing by anyone’s standards.
A word of thanks to the IndyBar staff: Executive Director Julie Armstrong has likely built the most talented, creative and innovative staff of any bar association in this country. She finds people with raw talent who are, above all energetic and capable and she manages them in such a way as to play to their strengths to gently guide them to where she needs them to be. We are lucky to have her leadership.
From a leadership standpoint, what makes this bar work as well as it does is the perfect storm of how we are alike and how we are different. The things that make us different—our practice areas, our families, our ages, our beliefs, our politics and our way of seeing the world — works for us and not against us BECAUSE we can dialogue, debate and discuss. More than once in 2013 I have taken my view of the world — and accordingly my view on an issue to either the board or the Executive Committee specifically to ask for the contrary, and to listen. The result was unequivocally a more balanced view, which is why the leadership of this bar association works.
The other part of that perfect storm is what we have in common as the leaders of this profession and of this bar. I cannot be more sincere when I say thank you to all of the people that have given their time, their energy, the money and their expertise to help this association fulfill its mission in 2013, which is to serve our members, promote justice and enhance the legal profession.
And finally, a nod to our families: for my children Michael and Eric, my partner John Bennett, my mother, the iconic Ruth Ann Hyatt; and my wonderful friends and colleagues at ICADV. This is my amazing family. IndyBar board member and past president Phil Isenbarger said it best at the 2013 Board Dinner earlier this month when he said we cannot do this work without those important people in our lives. No matter what we do or how busy we may be — we have to be able to recharge in the quiet presence of unconditional and accepting love. To my family: thank you, now and always.
There is a famous quote that says an optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in, while a pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. Call me the eternal optimist. 2014 promises great things and the IndyBar staff and Board have an incomparable leader in Jeff Abrams. But just to cover my bases, I’ve given him this golf towel as a token of my admiration. Jeff, not that your clubs ever get dirty, but do me a favor and use the back.
Happy New Year, all!•