Emphasizing civility and community service, Indiana state and federal judges along with other members of the legal profession welcomed nearly 300 new attorneys to the practice of law Tuesday as part of the Indiana Supreme Court Admission Ceremony.
The morning pomp and circumstance, followed by a reception, highlighted the relief and sense of accomplishment that comes after three years of studying to obtain a J.D. degree and weeks of intense preparation to pass the bar exam. Jacob Taulman, president of the Young Lawyers Section of the Indiana State Bar Association, indicated this is a day the new admittees will likely not forget.
“Having been sitting in your seat eight years ago yesterday,” Taulman told the crowd, “I remember the feeling, the excitement.”
The new lawyers introduced themselves individually to the courts then took seats up front, close to the stage filled with Indiana Supreme Court justices as well as judges from the Indiana Court of Appeals, Indiana Tax Court and the federal courts. Amid the speeches offering congratulations and advice, they took the oaths for admission to the Indiana Supreme Court and to the federal district courts for the northern and southern districts of Indiana.
Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush reminded the new attorneys that they did not achieve their goal of becoming a lawyer by themselves. She had the admittees stand, turn around and thank their family and friends who were helping them celebrate.
“You would not be here today without the support and, yes, even the suffering of those in the back half of the room,” Rush reminded them “Let’s acknowledge those who contributed to your admission to the bar… .”
Family ties were prominent when the Indiana oath was administered jointly by Elkhart Circuit Judge Michael Christofeno and Vigo Circuit Judge Sarah Mullican. Christofeno’s son and daughter-in-law, Jon and Kayla, along with Mullican’s daughter, Katherine, were all admitted at the ceremony.
Civility, integrity and problem-solving were the common themes among the words of advice offered.
Court of Appeals Judge John Baker told the new lawyers to volunteer their talents and think about how they can serve their communities, state and nation, because opportunities abound for lawyers to apply their problems-solving skills. Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said he hoped they would work hard not just to serve their clients, but also to serve the greater good.
Magistrate Judge John E. Martin of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana read the poem, “The Man in the Glass,” by Dale Wimbrow to underscore to the new attorneys the importance of being polite and civil in their personal and professional lives.
Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana left the new lawyers with the choice that they could be lawyers who either solved problems or caused problems.
“So from time to time, just to make sure that you’re doing what you should, ask yourself, ‘Does this action solve a problem or cause a problem,’” Magnus-Stinson said. “If it’s the former, full speed ahead. If it’s the latter, you better change course.”
In her closing remarks, Rush asked the new lawyers to think ahead 50 years when they will be getting ready to retire and consider how they will want to answer two questions – What role did I play in solving the problems of society, and how did I carry out those responsibilities?
“At the dawning of a great career, you should also consider the sum of it as well,” the chief justice said. “How you answer those dual questions about roles and responsibilities will shape how you, as a lawyer, will help solve the pressing problems that our communities face.”