Indiana Bar Foundation unveils new logo, celebrates We the People competition

With a name that easily gets confused with other Hoosier legal organizations, the Indiana Bar Foundation realized it needed to make a change. But after stakeholders said they wanted to keep the moniker, the nonprofit opted to refresh its logo.

The new design uses a richer blue and golden yellow palette. Also, the images of the two hands and the scales of justice have been replaced with a two-toned geometric image resembling the state of Indiana, and the foundation’s full name is boldly displayed.

The new Indiana Bar Foundation logo, unveiled in December 2021.

“We’re excited about it,” Charles Dunlap, bar foundation president and CEO, said of the new logo. “I think it’s different, but it has a lot of the common themes that we have with the brand equity that we’ve built up over several years now.”

Dunlap noted the bar foundation needed to differentiate itself because even within the legal community, the organization gets confused with the Indianapolis Bar Foundation and the Indiana State Bar Association.

He often has to explain that the bar foundation is a standalone entity and give an overview of its activities, like running civic education programs for Hoosier students and administering the Indiana Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts, or IOLTA, program.

“We help and facilitate a lot of these things, but a lot of people don’t necessarily associate that with our organization,” Dunlap said. “So we’re hoping to kind of put that out there some more so that they do.”

The unveiling of the new logo came at a special reception held on the eve of the We the People state championship on Dec. 7 and 8. IBF staff gathered with attorneys, judges and friends at Union Station in Indianapolis to commemorate the year, celebrate the return of in-person civic education events and say goodbye to a long-time colleague.

In remarks made during the reception, Scott Barnhart, president of the bar foundation board of directors, told the group that the organization did well in 2021. He said the bar foundation welcomed new employees as it continues to be a stable organization that provides help in various ways around the state.

Barnhart credited the success of the foundation to Dunlap’s 20 years of leadership and his shepherding of the organization through both boom and bust times.

Dunlap, in turn, thanked the bar foundation staff, saying they each do a lot of work operating and overseeing the nonprofit’s many programs. In particular, he recognized Lily Lawson, who joined the foundation in February 2013 as an administrative assistant and will be retiring in February 2022.

“Having such a key member of our staff for so long, so dedicated, transitioning into retirement is really going to be a challenge for me, personally,” Dunlap said, “because … she is such a hard worker, (has) a positive attitude, one of those kinds of employees that you wish you had across the board because if there’s something that needs to be done, she will do it.”

Lawson was introduced to the bar foundation through a help-wanted ad. She had always had an interest in working with attorneys, so she applied for the open position, although she was certain her application would immediately be discarded because she had no actual experience working in a law office.

But she was hired and quickly transitioned from working part time to full time. Her favorite activities of the bar foundation have been the We the People program and the civil legal assistance given to Hoosiers who are trying to navigate the court system.

“I think the team that Chuck (Dunlap) has put together works well together as a team. I know that everybody knows that, but every day when people are in the office and everybody gets along and does their job and helps out and everything, that’s what makes it so successful in my eyes,” Lawson said. “… I will miss them. I will miss them a lot.”

We the People state champs

At the We the People state competition held in the two days following the reception, some familiar schools took home top honors.

Fishers Junior High School and Fishers High School won the 2021 Indiana middle school and high school championships, respectively. In previous state finals, Fishers Junior High captured first place from 2016 through 2019 and Fishers High School has regularly placed either first or second since 2017.

Rounding out the list of 2021 middle school champions were Sidener Academy in Indianapolis placing second and St. Richard’s Episcopal School in Indianapolis finishing third. In the high school competition, Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers took second place while Plainfield High School in Plainfield captured third place.

Students in the We the People program study and research the philosophies, application, interpretation and evolution of the Constitution. Then at the regional and state competitions, the teams participate in a congressional-style hearing, with each team member reading his or her statement and answering questions from a panel of judges.

This year’s state championship returned to being in-person after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the We the People program to move to a virtual format for the 2020 regional and state contests as well as for the 2021 regional competition.

However, the 2021 state contest still limited interactions by not holding the naturalization ceremony that has traditionally been conducted during the We the People competition. Also, the speakers at the awards ceremony livestreamed their remarks rather than delivering them in person.

The coronavirus also greatly curtailed the preparation and plans for the national mock trial championship that was held in Evansville.

Initially, the southern Indiana city and the bar foundation were set to host the 2020 national championship, but the pandemic led to the cancellation of the event altogether. But then, Michigan and Arkansas, the next two states in line to host the national contest, stepped aside to give Evansville the opportunity to welcome the 2021 championship.

That event, like the We the People contests, was migrated to an online format. Dunlap said the bar foundation had considered suspending the mock trial and We the People competitions because of the pandemic but ultimately decided to keep going, even though that meant conducting the contests through computers rather than face-to-face.

“The programs are just too important to not let the students have the opportunity. And, especially with We the People, they get one opportunity to compete and if they miss that opportunity, they miss that opportunity forever,” Dunlap said. “We didn’t want that to happen.”

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