Norman Metzger will spend this week cleaning nearly 46 years of work from his desk at Indiana Legal Services before beginning his retirement.
The long-time head of the legal aid agency started his tenure on June 1, 1970, and built the nonprofit into a strong champion of the indigent, taking cases intent on making the law fair for everyone. In August of 2014, he announced his plans to retire.
“I’m really relaxed about this decision,” Metzger said of his departure. “The place is going to be in good hands with Jon Laramore.”
After a national search, the ILS board selected Laramore, former Faegre Baker Daniels partner, in December to become the next executive director. Laramore transitioned to the agency in February and officially took over the top job Monday.
Metzger has plans to travel a little, visiting his children in Washington, D.C.; Phoenix and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Also, he said he has purchased a new desktop computer, set it up at his home, and he plans to indulge in some creative writing.
A native of Indiana, Metzger served in the Peace Corp before returning to the Hoosier state and joining legal aid. He initially led Legal Services Organization of Indianapolis which was eventually renamed Indiana Legal Services when it became part of the national Legal Services Corp.
Metzger filled his office with young attorneys, many of whom have since gone on to become well-respected judges and leaders in the legal community. Before the federal government prohibited legal aid agencies from filing class-action lawsuits, Metzger and his team took on goliaths like the former Indiana Department of Welfare and the Indiana Department of Correction.
Recently, ILS board member Harry Johnson sent an email to Metzger, saying ILS has “had a good run.” Metzger replied with a correction, asserting “we are having a good run.”
To bolster his assertion, Metzger pointed to ILS attorneys’ success in the recent Indiana Supreme Court case Detona Sargent v. State of Indiana, et al., 49S02-1312-MI-790. A 3-2 majority on the court overturned the forfeiture of Sargent’s car, agreeing with the ILS lawyers that the state was not entitled to take her 1996 Buick Century.
Metzger said he will miss working at ILS although he is looking forward to not having to set his alarm clock.
“I’m not happy about stepping down,” he said, “but I am relaxed about the decision.”