Lindsay Faulkenberg has always seen her legal career as a way to serve children, but she also uses her talents to help mentor law school grads who’ve had trouble passing the bar. She volunteers and provides pro bono service with numerous organizations whose missions range from ending domestic violence to serving immigrant and refugee communities.
What made you want to work on issues related to children?
My mom was a teacher/school administrator and still is today. Growing up, she would tell me stories about the issues some of the kids faced that were in her school. One still sticks with me today about a little boy that was physically abused by his parents. I just couldn’t understand how a person could do that. That led me to volunteer and be involved with child-serving agencies as I grew up, like College Mentors for Kids and the Indiana Blind School through my sorority in college. Making life better for kids has just always stuck with me even into my legal career.
How do you see the legal profession changing in the next decade?
I think you will see more piecemeal legal work. People cannot afford big legal bills, and so they come to attorneys only when they really need it. They can access so much information online on their own. And sometimes, that can be scary. The law is always changing, and it is so county- and state-specific, that people are much better suited to have an attorney for guidance. So, I think as lawyers, we will have to be flexible to meet the needs of those clients. And, technology for sure. We see this now, but it is going to get more and more advanced in the coming years.
What was your most memorable job before becoming an attorney?
I was an intern for the FOX 59 “Morning News Show” at the end of college. I had to be at the studio every morning at 4 a.m., but it was so much fun! I got to write interview questions for Mark Wahlberg for an entertainment section, which was pretty cool! I also got to ride along with the reporters to places around the state to report on crimes or natural disasters. And, along with the other interns, we were given a camera crew to film a segment called “Interns on a Tank of Gas,” where we traveled to little-known places around Indianapolis that you could get to and back on one tank of gas. I have a lot of great memories from that internship!
If you hadn’t pursued a legal career, what would you be doing instead?
One would think I would say being a journalist, given that was my love in high school and major in college, but having seen the issues children and families face in our community, that is where my heart often leads me. So, I think it is likely I would have ended up in the nonprofit/public sector no matter what at some point in my career. Maybe even the medical field.
When did you first decide you would become a lawyer, and what motivated you?
I still am not exactly sure. I just loved college and knew I wanted to attend some sort of grad school. Once I started investigating my options, law school sounded equal parts challenging and fun. It proved more challenging than fun the first year, but it eventually became quite enjoyable. But, there weren’t any other lawyers among my family and friends growing up, which is probably the real reason, just to be different. After all, I was the first person in my family to attend a college that wasn’t Indiana University.
Who is someone who inspired or mentored you, and what did you learn from them?
So many people have given me amazing advice and support over the last seven-plus years I have practiced law. But, those I have worked with at Kids’ Voice are my constant inspiration, particularly the co-founder, Derelle Watson-Duvall, and our current CEO, Eddie Rivers. Together they have created a collaborative and forward-thinking agency where the priority is the children we serve. I have always felt supported and encouraged, even when I come up with crazy ideas to add more work for all us. Or, when I sign up for yet another pro bono or volunteer opportunity that may take me away from the office sometimes. To wake up every day and enjoy going to work, in the family industry no less, is something for which I will be forever grateful. And, I know that wouldn’t exist without the foundation that Derelle and Eddie have built.
What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your practice?
Honestly, everything. I get to litigate cases, research the law, present on the law, train volunteers, attend outreach events, collaborate with other agencies, write grants, participate in fundraising and events and work with a team whose members are all passionate about helping kids in Indiana.
What do you most enjoy doing when you’re not in the office?
Usually it is some combination of volunteering, enjoying Indianapolis places and events, watching Netflix, being near water as much as possible in the summer, and traveling when I can, all with great friends and family in tow.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I don’t know, and I am good with that. If there is one thing I have learned in this work, it is that things can change in a heartbeat. I try to live day by day and seize opportunities as they present themselves. I do know it will be something in public service. I don’t see myself ever leaving the nonprofit or public sector. Anything else would be pure conjecture.
What’s something about you not many people know?
I posed this question to several of my friends and colleagues. Together, we came up with nothing, except that it meant I am an open book. I think most people who know me would concur with this. Or, maybe that I love my birthday. Next to Christmas it is my favorite holiday!
What’s your advice to young attorneys who want to make CLE presentations, as you’re doing?
First, prepare, prepare, prepare and, then, prepare some more — know your subject area cold. That way you can don’t get flustered by questions or time. Second, be flexible — prepare too much info, but know you may not have time to cover it all. People will have questions and that usually makes the presentations even better for those attending. Third, give practical examples — the law can be complicated. Have case law to share with attendees and share stories from your own cases. Finally, keep at it — you will improve each time you do one. And, be willing to take criticism. I like when surveys are completed so I can make my next presentation better.
What has been your most memorable case?
My most memorable case involved a 16-year girl. She was basically homeless, living with friends because her parents were not caring for her. Her parents were divorced, both suffered from substance abuse and mental health disorders. The girl grew up witnessing domestic violence on a regular basis. She had recently given birth to her own child and was experiencing post-partum health issues. The issues weren’t an emergency at the time, but she lived in constant pain. She tried to apply for health insurance on her own, but no one would let her because her parents still had custody. Her parents would tell her they would submit the application, but would never follow through. So, the girl wrote a letter to her parent’s divorce court judge asking to be emancipated. The court appointed Kids’ Voice as the girl’s guardian ad litem. We were able to find a family friend who was willing to become the girl’s guardian, provide a stable place for her and her child to live and get her health insurance. The case culminated in many hugs in the courtroom at the final hearing, but the icing on the cake for me was seeing her discharged from the hospital after getting the surgery she needed. We still stay in touch and it is a joy to see her work hard to be a better parent to her child, than she ever had herself.•