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LEADERSHIP IN LAW 2017: Hon. Nancy Eshcoff Boyer

Judge, Allen Superior Court, Fort Wayne; Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, 1976

May 3, 2017
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Judge Nancy Eshcoff Boyer became the first female judge in Allen County when she was appointed to the Superior Court in 1991 and has been a judicial officer for more than 25 years. When she was administrative judge of the Civil Division, the court reorganized case management and reduced the wait time for trials from 3½ years to around one year. Judge Boyer assisted in establishing and currently oversees the Allen County Mortgage Foreclosure Trial Court Assistance Project, in which approximately 60 percent of homeowners in the program are able to keep their homes. She’s on the state judiciary’s Civil Instructions Committee, in which her English major came in handy when the committee rewrote civil instructions for juries in plain English.

What needs to be done to make the legal profession more diverse, especially in leadership roles?

Better recruitment by law firms with mentoring by the law firm emphasizing leadership. I believe that female attorneys still face challenges with respect to leadership advancement and family.

How has the practice of law changed since you became a lawyer?

When I practiced law, emails did not exist. We had time in between written communication by letter. Today, communication is immediate. Emails are expected to be processed and responded to within hours instead of days. As a result, clients are more demanding. I’ve often remarked to attorneys that I’m glad I’m no longer practicing law.

Why did you become a lawyer?

My college sorority sister suggested I become a lawyer because we were both English literature majors and she thought that our communication and writing skills would be a huge asset in the practice of law. She was right.

What will the profession look like in 15 years?

The age of electronics continues to impact the practice of law. Long-distance practicing by telephone and by video conferencing will increase. Unfortunately, that also means less face-to-face interaction. I also foresee larger regional firms.

What advice would you give your younger self?

As a young woman in a predominately male-dominated field (I graduated in 1976), my advice would be “Have more self-confidence!”

What are some tips for achieving a work-life balance?

With the demands of a family, there needs to be flexibility, communication and the ability to compromise. This is true for both work and life.

Why did you want to be a judge?

By becoming a judge, I hoped to contribute more to the community. One of the most satisfying contributions has been my involvement in the adoption of the mortgage settlement conference process as an alternative to foreclosure.

What has been your most memorable case?

In civil litigation, I have the opportunity to be exposed to a wide variety of cases, from products liability and medical malpractice to preliminary injunctions and commercial litigation. I find that challenging and rewarding.

What do you learn when mentoring someone?

I am able to see the law from a different perspective, and that is extremely valuable.
 

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