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LEADERSHIP IN LAW 2016: Adam L. Bartrom

Partner, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Fort Wayne; Notre Dame Law School, 2007

May 4, 2016

Since Adam Bartrom’s first day at the firm, he has distinguished himself as a hard-working, resourceful and conscientious attorney. Early in his career, Adam began working as the lead attorney on federal employment lawsuits and has won summary judgment in many cases in various jurisdictions. In a whistleblower case that initially seemed clear cut against his client, Adam was able to introduce additional evidence, causing the Department of Labor to rule in favor of his client, saving the company from a substantial damages award. Adam regularly writes a legal column for Fort Wayne Business Weekly as well as contributes to the firm’s Traditional Labor Blog. He volunteers with the Parkview Family YMCA and the Allen County Bar Association, and is actively engaged with his church.

bartrom-adam-1col.jpg (IL photo/Eric Learned)

What do you like about writing legal columns and for the firm’s labor blog?

I like that clear writing cannot occur until you master the subject matter. By constantly writing in different forums about different subjects, I am forcing myself to gain a grasp of new issues.

Why practice in the area of law you do?

On the first day of Employment Law during my second year of law school, our professor said this was the only area of law where you had a chance of saying any of George Carlin’s seven forbidden words to a federal court judge without getting sanctioned. I was hooked.

What’s something about you not many people know?

About 10 a.m. on most workdays, I eat a bag of beef jerky.

What will the legal profession look like in 10 years?

I asked a good friend from law school this question and he replied, “Like the opening scene from ‘Saving Private Ryan.’” While he may be right, in 10 years I believe continued technological advances will transform the practice of law into an almost paperless and electronically reliant endeavor.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

Semi-retired in a beach chair, practicing law that is completely paperless and electronically reliant.

What do you like the most about being an attorney? What do you like least?

I genuinely enjoy helping a client reach a solution to a complicated problem (but winning at summary judgment is a close second). And, for me, the least enjoyable aspect of the practice is monitoring time in six-minute increments.

What excites you about labor and employment law?

The creativity necessary to do it well. Each day presents a new problem which requires a carefully crafted strategy to meet the needs of that particular client. I’ve learned that through my mentors at B&T — it is something in which we take great pride.

What is the most important lesson you learned from your mentor?

Effective advocacy is not about yelling and banging your fist on the table. Keep your cool and think three steps ahead.

What was the most memorable job you had prior to becoming an attorney?

I ran heavy machinery for an excavating company. I did not realize it at the time, but it was my first real encounter with labor relations.

What is one misconception people tend to have about what you do for a living?

All lawyers cannot be trusted — that is simply not true. As with any profession, there are good lawyers and bad. And I’ve been very lucky to work at a firm that is full of not just good, but great lawyers.

If you couldn’t be a lawyer, what would you do for a living?

Coach. Whether basketball or baseball, some of my best memories are coaching my son’s teams. In addition to the obvious father-son bonding, I genuinely enjoyed the teaching and strategy components of coaching. For the same reasons, I could see myself as a college professor. I miss spring break.
 

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