LEADERSHIP IN LAW 2016: Alex E. Gude

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There is no question that Alex Gude will soon be one of the leading litigators in Indianapolis in complex litigation thanks to his hard work, strategic planning and legal scholarship. Alex has been instrumental in several cases, including defending a large pork producer and successfully utilizing Indiana’s Right to Farm Act to obtain summary judgment in favor of the client. He is currently managing the most significant piece of litigation at the firm. He has provided pro bono representation to a federal inmate and is active with the Indianapolis and Indiana State bar associations. He also serves on the board of Ovar’coming Together, an organization supporting women with ovarian cancer, which is especially important to him because he lost his mother to ovarian cancer in 2011.

gude-alex-15col.jpg (IL photo/Eric Learned)

What will the legal profession look like in 15 years?

I think that technology will allow lawyers to become more and more mobile. I would not be surprised to see many firms opting to have less traditional office space, because the need for “face time” at the office will decrease. Instead, I think firms will choose to have smaller spaces that attorneys can use as needed for client meetings and the like, allowing lawyers to work outside of the office on a day-to-day basis.

Is there a moment in your career you wish you could do over?

I think that everyone, particularly young attorneys, can benefit from learning about times when others made “mistakes.” One difficult thing about this job is the feeling that you are alone if you make a mistake. Hearing about “mistakes” made by others, and how they corrected them, gave me valuable perspective and allowed me to stop sweating the small stuff.

What did you learn from the IndyBar’s Bar Leader Series?

Bar Leader taught me the importance of being actively involved in our community. Sometimes it can be difficult to see how a single person can change things for the better, but Bar Leader provided multiple great examples of individuals who had done, and continue to do, just that. I was inspired to try to be one of those people in my personal and professional life.

How do you handle a case that garners media attention?

If the media is interested in the case, achieving the best result for the client may mean developing a media strategy and attempting to predict the press coverage relating to various court filings. Thinking about these issues in advance helps ensure better outcomes and helps manage client expectations. Planning and preparation can also mitigate the implications of negative press. The important thing is to incorporate the media attention into the case analysis from the outset. This enables you to be proactive instead of reactive.

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

Usually when I tell people I am a litigator they assume that litigation works the way it does on TV — meaning that I spend all of my time in court. In reality, most civil litigation takes place outside the courtroom. And, unlike TV, success in the courtroom typically requires countless hours of planning and preparation. These aspects of litigation do not make for particularly exciting TV, but they are central to any litigation practice.

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

I would either be an international travel writer or a bar owner (or maybe both). My wife and I love to travel and it would not hurt to be paid to do it. As for owning a bar, I love checking out new bars and restaurants around town, and I love the idea of creating a unique space for people to have fun and enjoy good food (and of course, beer).

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

I learned the power of confidence. My high school debate coach and English teacher, Marlissa Stauffer, helped me learn to be confident in myself by convincing me that I was a good writer and that I had the ability to think on my feet and argue persuasively. She helped me recognize my talents and to develop the confidence to use those talents to achieve success in school, the law and life. Without her encouragement, I do not know if I would be where I am today.

What’s something about you not many people know?

I love playing video games and I think I am pretty good at them, too. Or, at least, I was until we had kids and I stopped having time to play. There was a time when I would spend countless hours playing games with friends. While I doubt I’ll ever get back to that level (which probably was not a great idea anyway), I look forward to (hopefully) getting back into the gaming scene after my kids get older.

Why practice in the area of law that you do?

Ever since I participated in high school debate, I knew I wanted a job that would allow me to argue persuasively. Litigation was therefore was a natural fit — I spend a majority of my time developing arguments to be used in briefs and in court. I focus on business and government litigation because I enjoy the challenges posed by these cases and because I have a background in business from the Kelley School at IU.

Why is it important to be active within legal and community organizations?

Because, as I learned from Bar Leader, it really is possible for even one person to make things better. As an attorney, I feel a particular responsibility to try to use whatever talents I have to help my community. Indianapolis has given me and my family so much. The least I can do is try to give a little back.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

I would love to be able to say that I led my firm’s litigation department and my clients to great successes, and that along the way, the cases I worked on were interesting and challenging. I also hope that I am able to say that I spent a lot of time with friends and family, that I influenced and helped others, and that I had fun doing it all.

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