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LEADERSHIP IN LAW 2019: Todd J. Kaiser

Office Managing Shareholder, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC, Indianapolis; Indiana University Maurer School of Law, 1986

May 1, 2019

As managing shareholder of the Indianapolis office of Ogletree Deakins, Todd Kaiser has seen the number of attorneys increase by more than 50 percent since 2012. A litigator with extensive courtroom experience in complex employment law matters, he’s noted for his commitment to ethics and civility. Kaiser also has played a leading role in promoting diversity at the firm and serves on Ogletree Deakins’ national management committee. 

kaiser-lil2019-2col.jpgWhen did you first decide you would become a lawyer, and what motivated you?

At a very early age I decided to become a lawyer. My parents, primarily my mother, insisted that both my sister and I go to law school. I was probably 7 or 8 the first time I remember her pushing me in that direction. My sister is also a lawyer.

What made you gravitate toward employment law?

Two of my mentors, Kim Ebert and Chuck Baldwin, asked me to join them when they opened the Ogletree Deakins office in May 2000. At the time, I had jury trial experience, and we felt the Americans with Disabilities Act would generate a number of jury trials. I have always loved arguing in front of a judge or jury.

What was your most memorable job before becoming an attorney?

I grew up on a farm. At the time, I did not think of it as a job. To this day, I love working outdoors and planting and watching things grow.

Who is someone who inspired or mentored you, and what did you learn from them?

I have practiced law with Chuck Baldwin for more than 30 years. He routinely reminds me to focus not only on the arguments made, but on the arguments not made. Why arguments are not made can be very revealing.

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your practice?

Working with talented and very intelligent in-house counsel who assist in litigating challenging cases.

How do you prepare differently for an arbitration compared to a trial?

The preparation is basically the same. The audience is different. Details matter more, and less education about the case is required.

What do you most enjoy doing when you’re not in the office?

Spending time with my wife and children.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Develop a routine sooner and stick to it.

If you could change one law, what would that be?

I do not like one-sided attorney fee provisions in contracts. Many states require that a one-sided clause be transformed into a prevailing party clause that applies to both parties. I think Indiana should do that.

As one who has tried many cases to verdict, do you believe more cases should go to juries?

No, not really. I believe most nonmeritorious cases are properly decided through motion practice. The ones that are not should be resolved through compromise. 

What’s something about you not many people know?

I love reading about ancient civilizations and archaeology. Think 12,000 years ago, around the last ice age.

What’s your advice to a younger person who’s thinking about a legal career?

A legal career is a great thing. It challenges you in every way. So if you love a challenge, jump in.•

Read more Leadership in Law profiles.

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