When I opened the day on Friday, I told the assemblage that for me, Bench Bar is a “family reunion.” I felt it, I meant it, and I experienced it. We had judges from every branch of the judiciary, state and federal; we had lawyers of all ages and an abundance of young lawyers; we had lawyers from solo and small practice, government practice, in-house practice, medium and large firms, and every practice area represented in our bar. We had diversity; indeed, I believe that we had more lawyers of color at the conference than ever before, and we genuinely appreciated the support and presence of Marion County Bar Association president, Terrance Tharpe.
I could go on forever about the educational offerings. The new “TED Talk” style of presentations in the afternoon was a ton of fun. Thanks to all of you (nearly 30 lawyers and judges) who created and presented an “IndyBar Talk.” We loved them. I hope that we will be able to do this again in future years.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the stirring speech by Judge Alex Sanders at lunch. His “peanut butter cracker” metaphor to describe race relations in America was compelling and memorable. We were all talking about it for the rest of the meeting, and several people have reported to me that they have retold his story. The thrust of his message, namely that there is still much to be done for race relations and civil rights in America and that lawyers must take the lead, was met by a standing ovation. (He gave me his speech before he left, so anyone who wants a copy should contact me and I will send it.)
The family feel of the event was particularly evident during the Indianapolis Bar Foundation (IBF) Trivia Night. We had nearly twice as many people show up to play as in years past. It was wonderful. The room was packed and the event was as lively as I have ever seen it. Several thousand dollars were raised for the IBF.
I hope that those of you who were there will mark your calendars to return next year and bring friends. For those who were not, we missed you. You had to be there to fully understand the warmth and closeness that people felt in our packed meetings, receptions and meals. Indianapolis is a big city with a small-town feel, and there is nothing better than Bench Bar to illustrate the benefits of the friendships we all have with very fine lawyers and judges in our bar.
A final BIG THANKS to Julie Armstrong and her splendid staff, and to the co-chairs, Judges Christina Klineman and Marc Rothenberg. Well done folks!
See you next year!•