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Lucas: And the ‘Practicing Law in Indiana’ survey says …

December 2, 2015

EidtPerspLucas-sigWelcome to the Indiana Lawyer’s “survey issue”! I hope that you find the data revealed in the pages of this publication interesting and that it spurs conversation and serves as a catalyst for positive change in the legal community.

In September, Indiana Lawyer conducted the Practicing Law in Indiana survey. As you’ve read by now, this publication is celebrating its 25th anniversary year, and we thought this was a good time to survey the landscape, giving lawyers the opportunity to reflect on the current state of the legal profession. The impact of digital developments on the practice, 21st century economic changes, and generational perspectives were all addressed. We gauged lawyers’ levels of professional satisfaction as well as their priorities for the future.

The survey was widely distributed via Indiana Lawyer’s print and digital publications, through social media and on our website. Over 500 members of the legal community responded, providing good professional and demographic diversity. As the data on pages 3-8 reveals, respondents practicing under or over 20 years were almost evenly split; solo and small-firm lawyers represented a slightly higher percentage of respondents than mid- to large-firm lawyers, with those representing government, in-house or other organizations accounting for about a quarter of respondents; and the male/female split was 65 percent versus 35 percent.

Some of the data gleaned from the survey is predictable, other numbers are curious. While lawyers are generally satisfied in their careers, they do not recommend law school attendance in overwhelming numbers. We hear a lot of talk about pro bono service, but the numbers don’t support making it mandatory or indicate that it is a priority for many. And given the plethora of tweets, posts, pins and blogs these days (along with the potential for conflict with the Rules of Professional Conduct), the absence of social media policies among law firms is a head scratcher.

In this issue, we’ve begun editorial coverage of the survey results, and that coverage will continue in the year ahead. Indiana Lawyer was also very pleased to host, in partnership with Indiana University Maurer School of Law, a “Breaking Down the Survey” CLE on Dec. 18 where IU Maurer professor Bill Henderson analyzed the results, providing attendees food for thought on how this information can be used to direct law firms, legal education, and professional decision-making in the years ahead. Bill was joined by a distinguished panel that included Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush, American Bar Association Deputy Executive Director Jim Dimos, Faegre Baker Daniels professional responsibility counsel Jay Yeager, IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law Dean Andrew Klein, and IU Maurer Dean Austen Parrish. The discussion was enlightening.

I hope that you will spend some time with this issue as well as visit our website at www.theindianalawyer.com/2015-survey to view all the data.

On a personal note, this will be my last issue as editor and publisher of the Indiana Lawyer. I’ve accepted a new professional opportunity, and I leave the publication in the very capable hands of current managing editor Jennifer Nelson (jnelson@ibj.com). After nearly a decade with the publication, Jennifer is ready to step into the role of editor and, with the help of an amazing staff, the transition will be seamless. Greg Morris, president of IBJ Media and publisher of the IL’s sister publication, the Indianapolis Business Journal, will serve as publisher of Indiana Lawyer.

I have truly enjoyed getting to know many wonderful people in the legal community. For the past five years, I’ve had a unique perspective to lawyer-watch, and the words that come to mind when thinking about the people I’ve worked with include generous, genuine, smart, funny, kind … the list continues. I’m always appreciative of the time lawyers take to talk with us about issues or collaborate on a project. While I know it is your reality, rarely have I heard the words “too busy.”

So, thank you. I’ll look forward to the time when our paths cross again.•

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