‘Off the Record’ IndyBar podcast highlights Hoosier attorneys’ experiences

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Indiana attorneys who have an inkling to share their interesting stories and experiences in the practice of law or lawyers eager to glean knowledge from those who came before them now have an outlet to do so through a new podcast offered by the Indianapolis Bar Association.

James Bell, former IndyBar president and Paganelli Law Group attorney, said the idea of creating a podcast was tossed about for a while before becoming a reality via the new “Off the Record with James Bell” podcast. What spurred him on was a missed opportunity to glean from the wisdom and experiences of practitioners who had gone before him.

“One of the things that hit me when Judge (Patricia) Gifford died was that we lost an opportunity to hear stories about her big trials and being a pioneer for women judges,” Bell said. “And we hadn’t recorded that.”

Not wanting to miss another opportunity, Bell is now the host of the legal podcast produced by the Indianapolis Bar Association. “Off the Record” offers listeners an inside look at the attorneys and judges they see in court every day – and those who they may never meet.

“It’s taken a while, but we’re up and running and hoping to talk to a diverse group of lawyers,” Bell said. “There are a lot of interesting lawyers and cases in Indiana, and we hope for them to hear about it.”

Bell said he hopes to interview attorneys from all walks of life and from across the state. The podcast’s first episode features Monica Foster of the Indiana Federal Community Defenders, where Bell and Foster discuss her experiences as a death penalty lawyer.

Though he’s never hosted a podcast before, Bell said he’s thoroughly enjoying the experience and has learned more about the practice of law through the interviewing process.

“I interview people in depositions, but this is a lot different,” he said. “You’re opening it up for the guest to say anything, unlike being constrained by Rules of Evidence.” 

On “Off the Record,” guests are encouraged to share their stories of how they handle their clients, how they manage themselves and how they deal with a loss or a win in the courtroom. That opens the doors for learning experiences, no matter how old or young a podcast listener may be.

“Things don’t always go well in the practice of law, and the people I hold in high regard, they also struggle with things I struggle with,” Bell said. “I benefit from hearing how they handle themselves.”

Bell noted the podcast could also be a beneficial way for younger lawyers to learn from their predecessors about how to improve their practice of law.

“I don’t know if a lawyer in his 20s has chances to talk with older judges and attorneys, but this is a chance to eavesdrop from those lawyers,” Bell said.

There’s no rhyme or reason to who can appear on the show, the host said – they just have to be willing to share and have the time.

Bell said he looks forward to getting to know his guests better, but also hopes to become better at creating a space for lawyers to share their stories so that others in the field can benefit from them.

Four more episodes are scheduled to release through June 18, with the second episode releasing Tuesday. There, Bell chats with Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP partner Jim Reed.  

The podcast can be listened to on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. A schedule of episodes can be found here.

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