This column ponders the perhaps unexpected benefits of membership in bar associations.
Recently, I have had “parent stress” on my mind, precipitated by my mom’s summer endeavors to fit in as much as activity as possible in any given day. Some people would think this is a good problem to have, but in any event, the roles tend to reverse. My mom has been the champion of my life. When I became a board member of DTCI, she put a copy of the excerpt from Indiana Lawyer in a plastic, transparent folder for posterity. Thus, I guess I will always tend to worry about her.
This summer, I had separate evening meetings scheduled with fellow members of the Women Lawyers Association of Indiana. When the separate conferences were concluded, each member brought up — on her own — how she would be spending the rest of her evening. Both members’ evening activities involved parents that they would be helping. One member had to drive a respectable distance to help her mom that evening. It made me realize that I am not alone in this particular life journey, and it also made me ponder the unexpected benefits of friendship with bar association members. Regardless of the intellectual and professional pursuits we share, these friendships can help sustain us when the parent-child roles are reversed and we start to care for our parents.
Although I have practiced with a firm in LaPorte County since 1996, it was only during the last decade that I became involved with the LaPorte County Bar Association. Since my areas of practice do not bring me into regular contact with members of the LaPorte County bar, my membership in this bar association has been instrumental in providing rich opportunities to encounter local lawyers in a social setting. We have had several wine tasting trips in beautiful, outstanding fall weather and in beautiful spring weather. Even when some of the treasured lawyers whom I have met through this association have passed away, my continued attendance at events has given me the rare opportunity to hear other lawyers reminisce about colleagues who shaped their careers and lives in the most poignant ways. These remembrances by fellow LaPorte County bar members have touched me deeply. Again, sharing life’s journeys, even the difficult ones, is a blessing. Had I not been a member of the LaPorte County Bar Association, I would never have been privy to these very touching memories.
When I relocated to Indiana in 1996 from my home state of Illinois, I made a point of attending virtually every DTCI annual conference. These experiences have been in stellar locations throughout Indiana and have provided me — as a transplanted Hoosier — with opportunities to meet colleagues from all over the state. Encountering the same people year after year at these annual conferences helped me to acclimate to my new home state where I have now lived more than two decades.
One fall, I was fortunate enough to attend the annual Indiana State Bar Association Conference in French Lick when that campus was especially beautiful. I attended that conference with my law partner, Jaime Oss, and I will treasure those memories forever.
The friendships that I have forged as a result of my involvement in these associations has played a crucial role in helping me put down roots in a new state. I especially believe that these opportunities have been important to me, given that my siblings live in Germany and Minnesota. If it had not been for the support of friends whom I have encountered along the way, my life here in Indiana would have been so much more one-dimensional and unsatisfying. Given the hectic pace of law practice, I would have missed these chances to forge friendships with people spending their days engaged in the same profession as I am. That would have been truly regrettable.
These different bar associations have given me opportunities to encounter different colleagues when attending events sponsored by different associations. As such, I would strongly encourage younger lawyers starting out in this profession to contemplate joining state, local and specialized bar associations. Your membership in these associations, especially if started early on, will provide you with various experiences that you will not want to miss. All of the associations that I belong to have combined invaluable CLE opportunities with the added benefits of friendship and support in other aspects of one’s life, such as caring for aging parents later in life. Without that support, these journeys can be isolating. It may seem simplistic, but that day when I was meeting with colleagues, both of whom volunteered or offered personal insights into caring for their own parents, it was exactly what I needed to hear that evening.
Friendship is one the principal blessings of life, so make the time for involvement in these sorts of associations. You will never regret it.•
• Ms. Mack is a partner in the LaPorte firm of Huelat Mack & Kreppein and serves on the DTCI board of directors. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.