ITLA can help young lawyers learn to practice the law

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Graduating from law school, Alexander Limontes was sure of two things – he did not want to do trial work and he did not want to represent criminal defendants. Not quite three months after he was admitted to the bar, he found himself in a Marion County courtroom representing a client accused of a crime.

The 2007 Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law graduate was working as a public defender and, to his surprise, he liked being in front of the jury and explaining things in a conversational manner.

limontes-alex-right.jpg Alexander Limontes (IL file photo)

Limontes, 34, has since switched to the plaintiffs’ side. He is currently of counsel at Mitchell Hurst Dick & McNelis LLP in Indianapolis and has been a member of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association for four years. Limontes became chair of the association’s Young Lawyers Section in May.

Q: What are some things the ITLA Young Lawyers Section can do to help recent law school graduates?

Limontes: The ITLA Young Lawyers Section can provide young lawyers with both educational and networking opportunities. When we were in law school … rarely did we actually learn how to practice law on a daily basis. This includes tasks that some would consider routine, like sending a letter for an underinsured motorist case. But it is a necessary function of what we do because if we fail to send that letter, we may not be able to recover the full amount of damages for our client. That letter, while generally a form letter, must come from somewhere. That’s where the ITLA steps in. The association provides necessary resources to its members which give them the tools to successfully practice plaintiffs’ law.

Q: Among your plans for the section is to do community service and philanthropy. Why do you want to do more outreach beyond the legal profession?

Limontes: People and the public have certain preconceived notions about the type of people that practice plaintiffs’ work. I lost count of the number of times I was called an “ambulance chaser” during my first year as a plaintiffs’ attorney. We as attorneys are proud members of one of the oldest professions in the world. We are also one of the few professions where we police ourselves. We hold ourselves to a higher standard … because we have an ethical and moral obligation to the people that we represent and the law. Inherent in that is an obligation to our community. If I could walk away from my tenure having achieved one thing, it is that our organization has made an impact on the community beyond the legal profession.

Q: What are some community service activities you are planning or would like to do?

Limontes: We are working with Gleaners Food Bank in early July and in September. We will also be working with the Julian Center this fall during our 51st annual institute. I have reached out to Danny’s Closet of Hope to start a clothing drive to help people get back on their feet and in the workforce. Finally, we are preliminarily discussing adopting a family for the holidays.

Q: What advice would you offer to a young lawyer just starting in the plaintiffs’ bar?

Limontes: It’s been said and I will continue to say it: Find a mentor. I’m lucky enough to work with Bill Hurst. When I say find a mentor, I don’t mean you have to work for them. There are many pitfalls associated with practicing plaintiffs’ work, and a mentor can be the key to help guide you through those tough times.•



Questions and answers have been edited for space.

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