After receiving advice Tuesday to follow their passions and guard their reputations, 331 people became new lawyers in the state of Indiana.
On hand to welcome these new lawyers to the practice were justices from the Indiana Supreme Court, judges from the Indiana Court of Appeals, and representatives from various legal professions, including Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Robert N. Trgovich, clerk of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.
Indiana Court of Appeals Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik, Magistrate Judge Susan L. Collins of the Northern District of Indiana, and Justice Robert Rucker spoke to the new admittees, and each touched on the same theme: pursue a career that will make you happy.
Vaidik encouraged the lawyers to find their passion, saying don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t work out.
“It took me three times to get on the Court of Appeals,” she said.
Collins told the lawyers to find what makes them the most excited to get up and go to work. She also advised to not trade happiness for a paycheck.
She also touched on reputation, saying if you were a jerk in law school, “for the love of God, stop it now!”
Chief Judge Richard Young in the Southern District of Indiana explained that what matters most is a reputation for integrity. Once lost, it cannot be recovered, he said.
Rucker cited Charles Dickens in his remarks, noting how for law students, this may be “the best of times” or “the worst of times.” He explained how lawyers just starting out are facing lower starting salaries at firms as compared to graduates nearly 10 years ago and job prospects may not be as strong. He also cited the average debt for students from four of Indiana’s law schools – Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, IU Maurer School of Law, Notre Dame Law School, and Valparaiso University Law School – have ranges anywhere from $90,000 to $130,000.
But he encouraged the lawyers to think outside of the box when it comes to finding a job.
“Lawyering remains a great and rewarding profession,” he said.
He told them to enjoy their workdays and their weekends, and that the time spent with family and loved ones will remain a precious investment long after billable hours have been tallied.
Court of Appeals Judge Cale Bradford and Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of the Southern District of Indiana both had extra special reasons to attend the ceremony: their children were admitted to practice Tuesday.
Bradford administered the oath for all Indiana attorneys, joking beforehand it would have been embarrassing if his son, Cale Addison Bradford, had not passed the bar. Pratt administered the oath for those who want to practice in the Southern District of Indiana. Her daughter, Lena Pratt, and Bradford passed the bar in July.