Stafford: Welcoming new lawyers and new beginnings

editor-perspective-stafford.jpgOctober 16 was a transformative day for nearly 300 people who took the oath to be admitted to the Indiana Bar as new attorneys. Each person’s accomplishment was its own unique story of personal achievement, and the culmination of years of dedication and sacrifice.

But it was also just the beginning. As Indiana Lawyer senior reporter Marilyn Odendahl wrote, “Indiana Court of Appeals Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik told the new attorneys the numbers that so mattered in their past — grade point average, LSAT score, class rank — were no longer important. Their legacies would be built on how they make their part of the world better.”

That’s valuable advice for all of us. The possibilities before new lawyers are bound only by the limitations they place on themselves. The same also can be said for veteran lawyers.

Chief Judge Vaidik’s wise words were a reminder of those of another judge that Odendahl has written about recently — the late Senior Judge Larry McKinney — in a very different context. The REACH program in Judge McKinney’s court helped federal offenders successfully transition from prison back to the community. Odendahl recounted McKinney’s encouraging counsel to a man who was striving but having trouble passing the commercial driver’s license test. McKinney told the man that once he got his license, no one would pull him over to ask how many times he had to take the exam.

These simple but profound words and the noble effort by the late Judge McKinney and the legal professionals who helped with that program made the world better for people who truly could use a hand. And whether they realized it or not, each person they helped added to their legacies.

At The Indiana Lawyer, we know our readers love stories like these, about legal professionals who are making a positive difference in any number of ways. Do you know of someone who’s doing something to make part of their world better? If so, let us know. We’re happy to spread the word.


October 16 was a transitional day here at IL, as I officially assumed the duties of editor. It’s humbling and an honor to be entrusted to lead the state’s premier print and daily online news source covering Indiana’s legal community and judiciary.

Like many new and veteran lawyers, I’ve had excellent mentors. My predecessors — Jennifer Nelson and Kelly Lucas before her — set high standards and led with professionalism and grace. They made The Indiana Lawyer better in more ways than I have space to describe. I’m the beneficiary of their fine examples, and I will strive to meet theirs.

I’m also the grateful beneficiary of an exceptional editorial staff — veteran reporter Marilyn Odendahl, whose words you read above, and Olivia Covington. Olivia has taken on an enhanced role, responsible for leading our social media effort. I’m confident that with her able leadership in this area, IL’s reach will continue to expand. I’m also excited to announce that Rob Burgess will join our staff as managing editor Nov. 6. Rob is currently city editor of the Kokomo Tribune, where he has been an editor for the past five years. He brings to us a rare combination — strong reporting, editing and newsroom leadership experience coupled with a natural interest in the law.

But enough about us.

Salute to Indiana’s new lawyers. We’re pleased to publish your names in this edition, and we look forward to hearing from you and continuing to provide a unique source of news you can use. We wish you the best in making your part of the world better.•

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