DTCI: Some lessons learned while on the DTCI board

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jamie oss dtciAnyone who has read an article that I have written knows that I usually write about the law. This year, the DTCI president has asked the directors to write on topics broader than substantive legal issues in the columns we write. Since I am soon leaving the DTCI board of directors and moving on to the ISBA Board of Governors, I thought that I would share a few lessons that I have learned over the years, both on the board and off, as my last director’s column.

Lesson 1: Lawyers are good, hard-working people — no matter what side we are on. We all want what is best for our clients. When we clash, get upset and lose our tempers, it is because we are fighting hard for our clients and forgetting that there are at least two sides to every story, that there is more than one way to view an issue and find a solution, and that the other side believes just as strongly in its position. From time to time, we need to step back and remember that we are really all on the same side: the side of justice. If we do that, civility comes easily and all our clients are better off.

Lesson 2: The practice of law is not easy, and being a lawyer can sometimes be isolating. This is why it is essential to join and be active in legal organizations, both local and statewide. Getting to know the lawyers in DTCI and the ISBA, as well as the local and specialty bar associations with which I am involved, has been one of the best aspects of my career and my practice. I can reach out to attorneys around the state with whom I have made connections through my involvement in these organizations and receive learned, well-reasoned advice on everything from an unusual issue that no one in my firm has handled to questions about the way appellate rules may apply in a peculiar situation. I can also pick up the phone and call one of the many, many friends whom I have made and talk about the challenges and the joys of the practice, and they understand! So, get involved! It will be one of the best things that you have ever done.

Lesson 3: While the practice of law is not easy, for people like me and my dad, it is not work. It is a way of life and part of who we are. My mom calls my office my happy place. I want all lawyers to feel that way and to love going to work every day. If you do not, do some soul-searching to figure out what will allow you find your own happy place. Once you do, go after it! Putting yourself out there and making changes in your life can be scary. (Believe me, I know. January and February were probably the scariest two months of my career when I applied for the Indiana Supreme Court.) However, you will learn a lot about yourself and find that you are stronger than you think. If you are concerned about what other people may think or say, do not be. At the DTCI Women in the Law Committee luncheon last week, Chief Justice Loretta Rush said to “forget all of the noise” and just be you. My advice: Follow your dreams, and you will find your happy place.

Thank you, DTCI board of directors and Lisa Mortier, executive director, for welcoming me with open arms and allowing me this experience. I am honored to have served with you.•

Jaime Oss practices in the Michigan City firm of Huelat Mack & Kreppein. She serves on the DTCI board of directors and chairs its Rules Committee. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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