You may not know it, but Adam Sedia’s a poet.
The Lake County lawyer’s verses have been published in several literary poetry journals, and Sedia on May 20 launched his second self-published collection, “Inquietude,” with a book signing in Hammond. Sedia previously authored a collection called “The Spring’s Autumn.” The books are available on Amazon.com.
“I got attracted to poetry because it dealt with ideas and did it in an expressive, artistic way,” he said.
As a lawyer whose practice is primarily devoted to appeals, Sedia has been involved in more than 50 appeals in state court alone.
He said his avocation has helped him in his vocation.
“I don’t know if a judge would pick up on it, but I like to insert little snippets here and there of poetic writing in legal briefs.
“I like to use concrete language. When someone cites an old case, say from the ‘30s, I might say they dust off the case of Smith vs. Jones,” Sedia said. “It gives poetic imagery to an abstract idea.”
Writing poetry provides Sedia the kind of forum he said isn’t available by writing prose. His work is typically formal verse, but sometimes haiku or free verse. His work is sometimes dark, and he names John Milton, Alexander Pope and Samuel Taylor Coleridge among his favorite poets.
“You get an inspiration or an idea for a poem and then it takes a lot of work to get it where you want it to be,” he said. “As lawyers, what we do is write. … But when you get a flash of inspiration in an instant, it could be something you think of while brushing your teeth that means something to you and it’s significant to you.” The power of poetry, as Sedia sees it, is its ability to express the profound in the ordinary.
“In prose, it would be, ‘I look at the sun, it makes me happy.’ If you say it in poetry, you can conjure up imagery and connect with people in ways you never imagined.” Sedia said he’s met many lawyers who read and appreciate poetry. He’s been asked to do readings in the past that he said were well-received.
As an appellate litigator, one of Sedia’s most notable cases is F.D. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, 1 N.E.3d 131, 143 (Ind. 2013), which established in a 3-2 Indiana Supreme Court decision a parental right to sue DCS for negligence for failing to disclose allegations of child abuse.
Sedia, whose father John is a Lake Superior judge, practices at Rubino Ruman Crosmer & Polen LLC in Dyer. He will serve as president of the Lake County Bar Association next year.
“I did not know that side of Adam,” current LCBA President Shelice Tolbert said of Sedia’s poetry. “This is his talent, and we need to find out what other lawyers’ talents are. It’s refreshing to know it’s not all, ‘the letter of the law and that’s it.’”
The sides Tolbert did know of Sedia were as “a really gifted brief writer,” and someone who’s been very active in the local bar. Before serving as current president-elect, Sedia headed up numerous CLE programs and previously chaired the Young Lawyers Section.
Jim McCafferty isn’t by strict definition a young lawyer at age 80, but he has only been practicing since he was 64. He’s known Adam and John Sedia for years and said in some ways Adam Sedia has been like a mentor.
McCafferty went to law school part-time after working in a steel mill for more than 41 years. He now serves as a guardian ad litem, and said both Sedias have helped him in his second career.
“A lot of times I sit with John and Adam and talk over the cases (Adam) has,” McCafferty said. “For someone that young to be that capable is just incomprehensible.” McCafferty forecasts Sedia going far in his legal career, perhaps serving on the state or federal bench.
He said Sedia’s sideline of poetry is laudable, and he was happy to attend the recent book-signing. “He wanted to give it to me free, and I wouldn’t let him do that,” McCafferty confided. He said along with poetry, Sedia has written several musical compositions and even performed in a mariachi band while in high school.
Valparaiso attorney Brent Torrenga has known Sedia since the two studied together in the same bar prep course in 2009. They’ve remained friends since.
“Adam is just so talented, in poetry writing, his musical skills, and at the same time, he has one of the sharpest analytical minds I have ever met,” Torrenga said.
“My personal poetry appreciation is less than stellar,” Torrenga confessed, but he said he was pleased to attend Sedia’s book launch. He said hearing Sedia read his work “gives insight into his thoughts, and what a good person he is, in front of close friends and family and colleagues.”
Torrenga and Sedia also have shared duties as bar leaders in the past, and he said Sedia brought creativity into the CLE functions he was involved with. “There was no poetry involved. Not at that time,” Torrenga said.
But that may change.
“I would like to make poetry and literature appreciation a bigger part” of bar activities, Sedia said. “There’s a lot more cultural illiteracy than there used to be. If we can expand horizons and broaden perspectives, it makes for better writing in court.
“It’s something that if I think it’s realistic, I’ll take the lead in it,” he said.•