In just a short time as a practicing lawyer, Jessica Laurin Meek has become a valuable member of Bingham Greenebaum Doll’s litigation department, handling a wide variety of complex business disputes. She also has become a leader in bar activities, serving as the communications chair on the executive board of the IndyBar’s Young Lawyers Division. She also has provided pro bono assistance and works with a cause close to her heart, Best Buddies, a program dedicated to serving adults with intellectual disabilities.
What motivated you to pursue a legal career?
I have always loved thinking, researching and writing, so law interested me at a young age. To make sure I actually wanted to take the law school plunge, I interned with Judge Heather Welch at the Marion Superior Court while in college. During my internship, seemingly mundane things ended up exciting me (e.g., an issue involving mechanic’s liens), and I loved diving into legal issues. At that point, I realized that pursuing a legal career was a good fit.
What led to your active involvement in bar groups early in your career?
I attended a few IndyBar events during my first year of being a lawyer and learned quickly that what people had told me was true — that Indianapolis is a close-knit and surprisingly small legal community. Getting involved in the local bar thus seemed like the perfect way to get to know my peers and expand my practice. Plus, I love building relationships with people because it makes me happy.
What would you be doing if you had not become an attorney?
I would like to lead an advocacy group for people with intellectual disabilities. My brother has autism, so helping this community has always been close to my heart. Recently, though, I’ve also thought it would be great to run a Caribbean resort so I would have an excuse to go there all the time!
Why is being involved in Best Buddies important to you?
Best Buddies promotes inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities through one-to-one friendships. I started my high school chapter (North Central in Indianapolis) years ago to foster a culture of acceptance for those who are different. Being involved as an adult is important to me for the same reasons.
What reward do you personally get from doing pro bono work?
I view pro bono work as an integral responsibility of being a lawyer. A relatively small percentage of people have law degrees, but a whole lot of people have legal issues and do not have the means to get help. Pro bono work is important because it expands access to justice.
What’s your advice to a younger person who’s thinking about a legal career?
Before you go to law school, make sure you really want to be a lawyer. It seems simple, but the reality is that law school takes up too much time, effort and money to go through if you are not serious about it. Try to get some practical experience with a law firm, a legal service provider or a judge before going to law school so that you have a better idea of what lawyers actually do.
What’s something about you not many people know?
I really love blankets. I cannot have enough blankets. My husband gets mad at me because I hog all the blankets while watching TV and don’t let him have any.
Where do you see your legal career 10 years from now?
I hope to be a young(ish) leader within my firm and develop a specialty so I can be a go-to person in a certain area. Media law is of particular interest to me now and is something I’d like to pursue.
If you could change one law, what would that be?
I would like to see a robust hate crimes law in Indiana. At least as of the date I am answering this Q&A, Indiana is one of the very few states that does not have a hate crimes law.
Who is someone who inspired or mentored you, and what did you learn from them?
Career-wise, my inspirations are people at my firm who lead by example, practicing law professionally and collegially. In particular, Meg Christensen, a BGD partner, has taught me soft skills — how to manage and develop relationships within and outside the office. She’s also given me confidence by giving me opportunities early on in my practice. On a personal level, my parents are my inspiration. They are two of the kindest people I know and taught me the importance of being true to myself.
What do you most enjoy doing when you’re not in the office?
Besides Netflix, I’m taking a weekly watercolor class at the Indianapolis Art Center. It’s great to have a creative outlet, as being a lawyer overworks your analytical side sometimes.•