Note: this article contains corrections to a previously published article. The IndyBar regrets any errors.
Every year the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Women & the Law Division honors one woman from the Indianapolis legal community with the Antoinette Dakin Leach Award. This year’s recipient is Marcia J. Oddi, creator and publisher of the Indiana Law Blog. Ms. Oddi’s work with the Law Blog spanned 14 years and has had an important impact throughout Indiana.
Although Ms. Oddi’s blog may be well-known to most in Indiana, the woman behind the scenes likes to stay out of the spotlight. For an opportunity to get to know Marcia Oddi and learn more about her journey to where she is today, we look forward to seeing you and honoring her at the Antoinette Dakin Leach Award Luncheon on November 29 at the Skyline Club. Reserve your seat today at Indybar.org/events.
The Path to the Profession
After attending Indiana University majoring in zoology, Ms.Oddi accepted a position as a research assistant and biological illustrator at the Field Museum in Chicago, where she had worked for several summers during college. While visiting friends in Indianapolis a few months later, she accepted a job as a laboratory assistant in the medical genetics department at Riley Children’s Hospital. Within a year, she started attending IU’s Indianapolis law school, located in the old Maennerchor building, during the evenings. After completing her first semester, she was hired by the old Legislative Advisory Commission as one of its first legislative staffers.
Her career in state government spanned the terms of Governor Branigin through Governor Orr. Ms. Oddi helped staff the Indiana Constitutional Revision Commission, whose recommendations led to major changes in Indiana government, including the implementation of annual legislative sessions and a new judicial article. She was director of the Indiana Code Revision project, which over the course of 18 months, took 120 years of session laws and compiled them into the clean, easy-to-use-and-maintain Indiana Code that exists today. The byproduct of this effort was the institution of computerized bill drafting, which replaced a process that had only a few years earlier depended on typewriters and carbon paper. Accompanying this project, Ms. Oddi co-authored Indiana’s first two bill drafting manuals, one pre-Indiana Code, and one post-Code.
The Beginnings (and End) of the Indiana Law Blog
Ms. Oddi began the Indiana Law Blog in March 2003, inspired by the blog “How Appealing” by Howard J. Bashman, one the first of its kind. But the ILB’s approach was different, with a focus on Indiana law and government, plus occasional commentary. Much time was devoted to covering the activities of both the General Assembly and the Indiana courts. Opinions of the Tax Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court were summarized and posted shortly after they were filed. When Justice Boehm resigned from the Supreme Court in 2010, the ILB, with the exceedingly capable input of Prof. Joel Schumm of the Indiana University-McKinney School of Law, implemented a first for Indiana, intensive coverage of the selection of new appellate justices and judges. This service proved to be extremely popular.
The ILB quickly became a full-time, round-the-clock endeavor, according to Ms. Oddi. Financing it was always a problem, although over the years the blog received generous contributions from ISBA, Doxpop, IndyBar, Indiana Trial Lawyers, Hoover Hull Turner, and many others.
You can read more about the ILB in the IndyBar’s 2013 Indiana Lawyer Q&A feature, “Interrogatories.” Find it at: www.theindianalawyer.com/articles/31531
Post-Indiana Law Blog
To keep engaged with the legal community while looking for new opportunities, Ms. Oddi launched a free, online publication, the weekly ILB Newsletter in September. According to Ms. Oddi: “Because it is a weekly, the newsletter, unlike the blog, will not be able to bring you the news as it happens. But it will highlight some legal news you may have missed, and provide depth on some current concerns.” Subscribe at: www.indianalawblog.com.
Getting to Know Marcia Oddi
A Source of Inspiration: Virginia Dill McCarty, the second (1992) recipient of the Antoinette Dakin Leach Award, who served as a Deputy AG for Attorney General John J. Dillon, from 1965-69. She was one of the few women lawyers in the Statehouse when Ms. Oddi began working in state government. Ms. McCarty contributed to the Indiana Code Revision project in 1969-70. In 1977 McCarty was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
Avocations: Ms. Oddi designed, built and sold architectural stained glass windows for a number of years. Currently, she makes custom leather handbags.
Favorite Quote: Found inscribed over a marble fireplace in the Memorial Union on Indiana University’s Bloomington campus, this quote from Abraham Lincoln: “I will study and get ready and then maybe the chance will come.”•