Abrams: Leaders and Volunteers Recognized at Annual Luncheon

jeff abrams ibaIf you did not attend the IndyBar Recognition Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 13, you really missed out. We were able to recognize a select group of stellar performers to our profession and the IndyBar during the course of the year. Choices were so very difficult to make since we have had an extraordinary number of volunteers this year go above and beyond what might have been expected of them in their roles.

My President’s Award for Service to the Association was given to John Kautzman of Ruckelshaus Kautzman Blackwell Bemis & Hasbrook, who chairs our Justice Center Committee. John has been involved with this initiative for nearly 20 years as interest ebbed and flowed for this type of project. When the bar learned last fall that the mayor was promoting a Justice Center, we quickly reconvened the committee and John, with many others, spent tireless hours chasing down city representatives and information regarding this project. He recently had to execute a confidentiality agreement as he sat through proposals from prospective bidders which, if thoroughly followed, may have prevented him from disclosing his name, place of employment and residence to his wife and friends. Fortunately, we know where to find him as he perseveres and continues to work diligently as we see how this project evolves.

The President’s Award for Service to the Profession was given to the IndyBar Diversity Job Fair Committee chaired in 2014 by Sara R. Blevins of Lewis & Kappes PC. This project has grown over the past several years to an incredible level of participation this year with over 400 scheduled interviews by 28 firms and companies with 84 registered students and 18 sponsors. Several students have already received and accepted offers for employment. This committee was also recognized this year by the American Bar Association at its annual meeting for its service to the community and our profession.

B. Ronan Johnson with Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP was awarded the Young Lawyer of the Year. As a young attorney, he is already incredibly active in the community with United Way of Central Indiana, Meals on Wheels of Central Indiana, Penrod Society, Leadership Indianapolis and Methodist Health Foundation. Most notably, Ronan created the IndyBar’s Intro to Indy series which provides opportunities for young lawyers to co-host with other organizations around town and learn more about how we can serve the community. He has enlisted the Indianapolis Zoo Associate Council, the Emerging Leaders of United Way, Leadership Indianapolis and Young Professionals of Central Indiana for participation. This creative and innovative project was developed by Ronan while he was sitting at his office looking out the window contemplating his next major transaction for Taft. Congratulations to Ronan and keep up the continued creativity for the profession.

The Board of Directors Award and the IndyBar Pro Bono Law Firm Award went to Richard A. Mann and Richard A. Mann PC. Rick has chaired the Family Law Section in 2014 and was extremely involved in providing input to the Board of Directors and information to its section members regarding HJR-3 and other same-sex marriage developments during the course of the year. Communications to its members has been flawless and the educational seminars extremely well received. On the pro bono front, attorneys from his firm have volunteered as guardians ad litem in juvenile delinquent cases and spent more than 240 hours assisting incapacitated adults and other parties. We truly appreciate Rick being a role model for those in the firm, in the Family Law Section and the entire legal community.

The other IndyBar Pro Bono Awards went to Deborah K. Binkley, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, for paralegals, Tyler J. Smith, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law for law students and Jacqueline Pimentel-Gannon, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, for attorneys aiding individuals.

Debi has served as site coordinator for the Ask A Lawyer Program for several years and helps recruit and train other paralegals for this role. She has used her creativity and ingenuity to make the program better.

Tyler has contributed an incredible 375 pro bono hours through the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic’s expungement help desk at the City-County Building while attending law school in the evening and being a student ambassador for the admissions office. He is an exemplary law student who will become an outstanding attorney.

Jacqueline has contributed over 500 hours of pro bono service in her three years at the law firm. She volunteers for the IndyBar’s Ask A Lawyer Program, the Low Asset Wills Program and the Firm’s EMBRACE Program. She has prepared wills and advanced directives for a Lilly/Faegre clinic held at Eskenazi Health and for the recent Wills For Heroes Program. Her efforts have been tireless while continuing to practice law on the side.

Ian Goodman provided accolades for the law firms who have worked diligently to practice law in ways that are environmentally safe and sustainable. Over 20 firms and businesses were recognized as 2014 Green Legal Initiative members, and the list can be found on the IndyBar website.

Over 40 attorneys were selected to participate in the Indianapolis Bar Foundation Class of Distinguished Fellows and over 25 “seasoned” attorneys were selected to the Indianapolis Bar Foundation Class of Distinguished Seniors Fellows. We were also blessed to have 14 attorneys honored for having achieved 50 years of practice, which is an incredibly noteworthy achievement. Syd Steele, one of our 50-year practitioners, was sitting at our table and was anxiously awaiting the conclusion of the lunch so that he could rush out to a deposition that he needed to attend for one of his clients. So many of these attorneys are still actively practicing in our community, enjoying the profession they have served for 50 years.

I can’t think of a better way to spend an hour with fellow attorneys than to recognize those who have sacrificed time with family, friends and clients in advancing justice and service to our profession and community. Congratulations to all those honorees and everyone else who gives so freely of their time. It makes my job so much easier.•

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