Indiana’s pioneering female attorneys honored

September 3, 2015

The late Shirley Shideler, who was the first woman to be named a partner at a large Indiana law firm, will be honored at a special reception recognizing trailblazing women lawyers.

Barnes & Thornburg LLP and the Indiana Bar Foundation will be honoring Shideler along with three other exceptional female attorneys at a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at Barnes & Thornburg, 11 S. Meridian St., Indianapolis.

The other honorees include Judge Sarah Evans Barker, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana; Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush, Indiana Supreme Court, and Carol A. Stephan, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Shideler was a secretary who worked her way through law school at night. She graduated from what is now Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1964. A few months after graduation, she joined Barnes & Thornburg, becoming the first female associate at the firm. In 1971, she became a partner.

Her former Barnes & Thornburg colleagues Robert Reynolds called Shideler “one of the best.” Reynolds and Shideler were in the same associate and partner classes.

“We were buddies until her untimely death,” Reynolds said in 2014.    

Shideler subsequently became the first female president of the Indiana Bar Foundation and was a role model for female attorneys. In 1995, she received the Antoinette Dakin Leach Award from the Indianapolis Bar Association, and in 2001 IU McKinney named her Outstanding Alumna of the Year.

After Shideler’s death in 2003, her daughter, Gail Frye, established a scholarship in her name at IU McKinney.  
Shideler’s family and colleagues will be at the reception to honor her legacy and other prominent women lawyers and judges.  


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