I recently had another opportunity to attend the investiture of an Indiana Supreme Court justice, Geoffrey Slaughter. We’ve had a rash of retirement and investiture ceremonies the past few years. I really love these events. Justice Slaughter’s family, friends, and colleagues all showed up to show their enthusiasm for the governor’s choice of a successor to former justice Brent Dickson. We heard about Justice Slaughter’s wife, Julie, who is also a very accomplished lawyer and how they met while both were working at the Indiana Attorney General’s office many years ago. We also met the new justice’s in-laws. The affection and admiration that Justice Slaughter has for his in-laws was obvious to all of us. I loved when he referred to his father-in-law as “Pops.” Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch spoke from the heart about our new justice’s devotion to the law, strong work ethic and frugality. As these events inevitably are, this one was uplifting and reassured all in attendance that the Indiana Supreme Court is in very good hands.
I enjoy lawyer gatherings because they affirm that the work we do is important, and we all take that very seriously, but there is also plenty of room for friendship and collegiality. Cherished friendships between lawyers are made that last for decades and gatherings refresh those old friendships. Shared experiences strengthen friendships. Award and recognition ceremonies give us a chance to see the humanity of the person who is being honored.
As a profession, we don’t produce a tangible product that reflects our efforts. We don’t make widgets. We deal in human lives. Sometimes, it’s life or death. Other times it’s a person’s freedom. Other times, we affect children’s lives and who will be entitled to mold them. We determine business relationships, wealth and employment. We order the chess pieces around the board. With responsibility and power over such important aspects of human life, sometimes you need the support of friends and colleagues. Events that bring us together as a legal community remind me of how intertwined our lives are and how important we are to one another’s well-being.
This is also one of the reasons the IndyBar is important to me and should be to others in the legal community. The IndyBar gives us reason and opportunity to get together and just celebrate this wonderful profession we have the privilege of being a part of. It gives us the chance to renew friendships and make plans for the future. It reminds us we’re not alone in our disappointments and frustrations or in our successes and achievements. It gives us the informal opportunity to get an answer to a question and to network for business.
Frequently, events are inspiring, such as the Professionalism Luncheon where we honor an outstanding jurist and lawyer for their body of work. At the Recognition Breakfast, we honor lawyers who have contributed a great deal to our association, our profession and our community. It is always uplifting. I enjoy hearing about how lawyers in our community who we may know only from their work, are also active contributors to charitable causes. The Professionalism Luncheon is coming up in September and the Recognition Breakfast will be held in November. I hope you will attend both this year and see if you agree with me.
We’re also going to do something new this year to bring our legal community together in a very meaningful way. The HEAL committee will formally remember lawyers and judges who have passed away during the prior year. Families of the deceased lawyer or judge will be offered the opportunity to write a paragraph about their loved one and it will be read at the memorial service which will take place in the courtroom of the Indiana Supreme Court. The IndyBar is thankful to the committee for organizing this meaningful event and to our Supreme Court for allowing us to use their beautiful and solemn courtroom for the memorial service
The legal profession moves much more quickly than it used to, and it’ll only continue to accelerate in our “always on” society. This fall, let’s put down the phone and walk away from the computer and take some time to see each other—face-to-face. Yes, an hour away from your desk at a luncheon or celebration might mean one less billable hour. But I promise, the relationships you make and the satisfaction you gain will pay dividends. You can find registration information for the events I’ve mentioned above, plus many other social gatherings, at indybar.org/events. I hope to see you at one of them soon.•