Indiana Legal Services executive director Norman Metzger has announced he will retire March 31, 2015, ending a tenure at the nonprofit that stretched more than four decades.
“Norman has been and remains a committed defender of the legal rights of the poor and vulnerable,” said Mary Fondrisi, president of the ILS board of directors and a partner with Smith Carpenter Fondrisi & Cummins in Jeffersonville. “Through his leadership of ILS, Norman has both personally and indirectly improved the lives of individuals and families throughout Indiana.”
The board of directors has hired Management Information Exchange to conduct a national search for a new executive director to lead ILS.
Metzger has guided what was then known as Legal Services Organization of Indianapolis, Inc. since 1970. Under his leadership, the nonprofit expanded beyond Marion County into central and southern Indiana communities like Bloomington, Evansville, Muncie, Richmond and Terre Haute.
In 2000, at the urging of the organization’s parent, the national Legal Services Corp., Metzger negotiated a merger with the Legal Services of Northwest Indiana, Inc. in Gary to create Indiana Legal Services. The following year, the Legal Services Program of Northern Indiana, Inc. in South Bend and Lafayette joined the organization.
Today, ILS is the largest poverty law firm in Indiana, serving clients in all 92 counties.
A native of Larwill, Metzger graduated from Manchester University and the University of Michigan Law School.
He is credited with helping to pioneer special legal practices in poverty law by assigning experienced attorneys to focus on frequently recurring legal issues in certain disadvantaged populations. The resulting special projects started in the 1980s by tackling the legal problems facing farmers and prison inmates. The projects soon expanded to include special initiatives for AIDS victims.
Currently, ILS has nine special legal projects that respond to complicated legal matters involving housing, consumer rights, health care, immigration and language rights, seniors, the homeless, low-income taxpayers, migrant farm workers and military veterans.
The agency has posted the job announcement on its website and requests résumes by Sept. 12. Anyone interested in applying for the position can find more information by visiting www.indianalegalservices.org.