Thomas Pyrz, longtime executive director of the Indiana State Bar Association, has announced his intention to retire at the end of 2017 after 25 years at the helm.
Pyrz has informed ISBA president Mitch Heppenheimer and, according to a succession plan put in place a couple of years ago, a search committee will be convened to screen and recommend potential replacements to the board of governors. Both Pyrz and Heppenheimer expect the committee will conduct a national search for a replacement.
“It’s a fantastic job,” Pyrz said of his tenure. “The people are wonderful. The issues are wonderful. No day is the same.”
Pyrz was encouraged to apply for the top job by the former ISBA executive director Jack Lyle. At the time, Pyrz was serving at Fort Benjamin Harrision in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps and making plans to return to the Pentagon. He took a leap of faith, retiring from the military in 1991, then applying and waiting 11 months before being tapped to lead the association.
In retirement, he will be spending more time with his wife of 45 years, Mary Ellen, a retired schoolteacher; two sons; and five grandchildren. Also, he said he will be looking for “just the right kind of activity and the right job,” possibly in the legal field.
Heppenheimer said Pyrz’s retirement will be a loss for the association, crediting him with being a steady hand.
“He has done so much and is well-respected across the state and the country,” Heppenheimer said. “He’s meant everything to the association.”
Reflecting on his tenure, Pyrz said the two accomplishments that stand out are the development of the lawyer assistance program and the Casemaker project.
The assistance program started informally in the 1990s as a group of lawyers helping their colleagues before eventually going to the Indiana Supreme Court where it became the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program.
The Casemaker project began in the 2000s. It is an online legal research tool that is available free to ISBA members.
Although his term is ending, Pyrz does not expect his calendar or duties will slow down as he gets closer to his last day in office.
“I’ve not had a slow day in 25 years,” he said.