DTCI: Young Lawyer Spotlight

Adam Mandel

Adam Mandel

Firm: Mandel Rauch & Lammers

Practice area: Insurance defense

Years of practice: Second-year associate

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy traveling and seeing the different towns and courthouses throughout the state.

What has been the best moment so far in your legal career?

Taking my first few depositions on my own after going to 50+ as an intern/clerk throughout undergrad and law school was probably the most memorable.

Why are you a member of DTCI?

I think it is important to meet and communicate with people on a similar career path. Bouncing ideas and learning experiences off each other can only help make me a better lawyer. DTCI is perfect for that purpose.

Unforeseen hurdles of your first years as a lawyer?

Learning how to track and bill time is something that we were obviously never taught but is a skill that is learned over time.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be and why?

If I weren’t a lawyer I would probably be a teacher. I come from a long line of teachers and think education is supremely valuable.

What you wish you knew then … :

Treat a deposition more like a conversation than an interrogation.

Fun fact about you:

I stormed the court from the balcony after Christian Watford hit the 3 against Kentucky.

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Cassie Heeke

Cassie Heeke

Firm: Pitcher Thompson PC.

Practice area: Health care litigation

Years of practice: One year

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy the challenge of constantly learning something new, whether it’s caselaw that expands on a rule of civil procedure or a complex medical issue.

What has been the best moment so far in your legal career?

It’s not one specific moment, but when a motion I write or a hearing I argue helps us provide a great outcome for a client, it is always a rewarding and memorable experience.

Why are you a member of DTCI?

I joined DTCI for helpful networking resources and learning opportunities. I attended a rookie seminar through DTCI last fall, and I still put the skills I learned from the seminar into practice nearly every week.

Unforeseen hurdles of your first year as a lawyer?

Working full-time from home due to the pandemic was certainly an adjustment, especially as a new lawyer. I’m grateful to be back in the office more regularly and look forward to making more in-person connections in our community.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be and why?

I would be a journalist or writer in some capacity. I studied journalism at IU, and I enjoy the combination of fact research and creative storytelling involved with being a reporter.

What you wish you knew then … :

Before graduating law school and starting my job, I wish I knew everything would work out for the best. It’s easy in the competitive law school environment to have anxiety about the future, but this year has taught me the importance of focusing on the present and trusting that things will fall into place.

Fun fact about you:

I discovered a love for biking last summer, and now you can find me biking or running up and down the Monon Trail near Broad Ripple a few times a week. On your left!

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Alexandra Blackwell

Alexandra Blackwell

Firm: Jeselskis Brinkerhoff and Joseph(JBJ Legal)

Practice areas: I spent the first few years of my career as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Cale J. Bradford on the Court of Appeals. I then spent several years doing primarily business and employment litigation. Now I am in the process of focusing more on drafting and negotiating asset purchase agreements, consulting agreements, franchise agreements, commercial leases and corporate governance documents. I enjoy helping clients with buying and selling businesses, forming new ventures, raising capital, employment matters, and drafting and negotiating contracts between businesses and their vendors, contractors and customers. I also continue to represent individuals and businesses in civil litigation matters including disputes involving contracts, employment, commercial issues and real estate.

Years of practice: Five years

What do you like best about your job?

The best thing about the law and our jobs as attorneys is that we are never finished learning and evolving. Every issue and client is different. I also love helping people work through problems that they cannot solve themselves.

What has been the best moment so far in your legal career?

My most memorable moment so far involves a case completely outside my practice area. John Higgins and I were able to have a guardianship terminated for a 94-year-old World War II veteran who had been taken advantage of by his stepchildren. It was a very emotional and complicated case given all the family dynamics. Seeing my client’s face when he — in his words — “got his freedom back” was truly moving. He celebrated by getting beers with his friends at the Moose Lodge. He also framed the order terminating the guardianship and placed it on a table next to his recliner at home. The impact we had on his life and the joy it brought to him will always stay with me.

Why are you a member of DTCI?

I joined DTCI because it is a great community of attorneys who can help each other continue to learn and collaborate. It is also a wonderful networking organization.

Unforeseen hurdles of your first years as a lawyer?

I am not sure I would call it unforeseen, but learning to actually be a lawyer and finding my own style/ approach. Different things work for different people. It is not a one-size-fits-all profession.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be and why?

A chef and own a restaurant. I come from a family that loves to cook. Cooking is also a great way to be creative and create memories for others. So many of my family’s favorite memories have been in the kitchen or around the dinner table so I would enjoy giving those experiences to others.

What you wish you knew then … :

I knew this, but I didn’t fully appreciate it until later: It doesn’t matter what other people are doing in or after law school. We all have our own paths.

Fun fact about you:

I grew up attending the International School of Indiana and took the majority of my classes in French!

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Chuck Niblick

Chuck Niblick

Firm: Katz Korin Cunningham

Practice areas: Insurance defense, insurance coverage, asbestos litigation and business litigation

Years of practice: Almost six

What do you like best about your job?

I love competition, whether it is a team sport or meeting a personal goal. Part of the “competition” in the practice of law is constantly learning, whether it is through my supervisors or my own pursuits. From this education, I get to find and develop creative solutions to complex issues for the benefit of our clients.

What has been the best moment so far in your legal career?

So far, my favorite moment has been preparing, arguing and winning a creative motion for summary judgment on punitive damages on behalf of a client.

Why are you a member of DTCI?

I joined DTCI because I wanted to meet other professionals doing work similar to mine. I think having this resource is an invaluable asset not only to my personal and professional growth, but also to my clients.

Unforeseen hurdles of your first years as a lawyer?

I think the hardest part of starting out as a new attorney is twofold: You have to know what you don’t know, and you have to know how to find the answer. People learn differently, so there isn’t always a “one-size-fits-all” way to do that.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be and why?

If I weren’t a lawyer, I would be a park ranger at a national park because I love the outdoors.

What you wish you knew then … :

It’s okay not to have all the answers as long as you are willing to ask questions and be open to learning.

Fun fact about you:

I am an “aspiring” trail runner when I have time on the weekends.

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