The Indiana legal profession will celebrate a pair of firsts July 31, as two of its own receive national honors.
Retired Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard and retired Indiana Legal Services executive director Norman Metzger will both be recognized for their work and contributions to the profession with awards from the American Bar Association.
Shepard will receive the 2015 John Marshall Award and Metzger will be honored with the 2015 Dorsey Award. They will be the first Hoosiers to receive the commendations.
The awards will be given as part of the ABA’s annual meeting being held in Chicago.
Shepard will be presented with the Marshall award at a special luncheon. ABA president William Hubbard is scheduled to introduce the former chief justice and present him with a glass sculpture designed by American artist Dale Chihuly.
The Marshall award is given to individuals, both lawyers and non-lawyers, who have made a positive national impact on the justice system. The award was established in 2001.
Shepard became the youngest chief justice in the United States when he ascended to the position on the Indiana Supreme Court at age 40 in 1987. During his tenure, he authored over 900 majority opinions and 65 law review articles. The Evansville native also served on the U.S. Judicial Conference Advisory Committee of Civil Rules and co-chaired with former Gov. Joseph Kernan the Indiana Local Government Reform Commission. In 2013, he chaired the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education.
Writing a nomination for Shepard, Chief Justice Loretta Rush cited the programs and initiatives started by her predecessor which have had a wide-reaching impact.
“The mortgage foreclosure assistance program, the expansion of translation services in trial courts, diversifying the bar by establishing the Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity (ICLEO) and creating an outreach program to educate Indiana’s students and citizens about the judicial branch are widely known and appreciated. His legacy is not only about what he accomplished, but also about his ability to position the Court for future success.”
Metzger will be presented with the Dorsey honor during the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division reception. This award, first presented in 1996, is given to an outstanding public defender or legal aid lawyer.
Metzger began his career as executive director of the Fort Wayne Legal Aid program. In 1970, he joined ILS and led the statewide organization until he stepped down in March 2015. He hired young lawyers who have since gone on to various leadership positions and judgeships, and he led many fights to reform Indiana’s public assistance and penal systems.
President of the ILS board of directors and Lake Superior Judge Calvin Hawkins said the award not only reflects well on Metzger and his accomplishments but also on Indiana Legal Services.
“This puts us further on the map,” he said. “It underscores not only Norman’s individual service but what the organization has done to improve the lot of poor people in this state.”