IndyBar: Women’s Rights, At-Risk Youth Among Project Focus for 2018 Bar Leader Series

By Lindsay Faulkenberg, Kids’ Voice of Indiana, and Sonya Seeder, Indianapolis Office of Corporation Counsel

The IndyBar Bar Leader Series Class XV has been working hard since September to be stronger, more effective leaders, both in their legal careers and in the community. The 20 class participants started their leadership journey through an intensive application process followed by a two-day skill-building retreat. Since then, they have attended monthly meetings where they have engaged with top community leaders regarding the pressing issues facing our community and the skills and abilities needed to be an effective leader. Through these monthly sessions, the participants have been developing skills in communication, organization and ascertaining the ability to motivate and inspire others.

In order to provide an opportunity for the participants of the Bar Leader Series to actively utilize the skills and knowledge that they are learning through the series, the class has been asked to identify an unmet need and develop and execute community service projects to assist those needs to benefit the Indianapolis community. The class has divided into four separate teams, each addressing a different need. Through an active exercise done at the group’s retreat back in September, the teams identified and formed around the topics of criminal justice, mental health, at-risk youth and women’s rights. Each of the teams conducted research to identify specific needs and challenges facing the communities within these topics in order to cultivate a concrete project that would directly address those needs in an active and sustainable way. The teams spent a significant time during the series planning and implementing these projects and will present their projects to the group and IndyBar community at their graduation this May. The groups are well on their way to completing their exciting projects this year and the Steering Committee of the Bar Leader Series Class XV is very excited to report on their progress.

The Criminal Justice Team’s program, Removing Roadblocks to Valid Driver’s Licenses, addresses the many issues people face when attempting to receive or reinstate their driving privileges. The team is making a series of short videos, which will be played at traffic court, addressing common roadblocks. The videos will help educate people on the many issues they may face in receiving a valid license as well as the consequences of driving without a license. With the help of Judge Marcel Pratt in traffic court, these videos will assist a great number of people in Marion County.

The Mental Health Team is addressing the issue of medication for released inmates. Currently, an inmate released from the Marion County Jail only receives a three-day supply of medication. The prescription for this three-day supply must be filled at a pharmacy nearly two miles away from the jail. In the meantime, it may be weeks before a released inmate can get seen by a medical professional to secure a new prescription. This disruption in care can lead to the released inmate returning to jail in a short period of time, which can escalate mental health issues and lead to a public safety hazard and great expenditures by the jail. This team is working to help released inmates obtain valid prescriptions for a greater period of time upon release as well as working with local pharmacies to honor and fill released inmate prescriptions.

The At-Risk Youth Team is working with students from Lawrence North High School to empower them with legal knowledge. The team started out surveying the students to see what legal areas they wanted more information about. Their project will culminate in a “Hamilton”-style presentation, involving students, police, prosecutors and public defenders. The students will be given a copy of the presentation and the teachers can use it as a teaching tool for future classes.

The Women’s Rights Team is launching Women IN Indy, a resource to connect people to women-lead businesses. The team is working with Eleven Fifty and Employ Up to hire interns to develop a website and a mobile app that serves as resource to find women-led businesses in the area. They hope to have the website up and running soon, and the team plans for this to be an ongoing resource for many years to come. They plan to have a launch party sometime in 2018.

These teams have spent a great deal of time outside of the monthly sessions to plan and execute their projects. They will present the final product in short video presentations at their graduation in May. IndyBar members and guests are encouraged to attend graduation to hear firsthand about the great work done by this year’s class. It will be held on May 15, 2018, at Frost Brown Todd. More information to follow!•

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