IndyBar President’s Column: A Salute to Dean Klein

In the fall of 2002, I was an unwitting 1L at then-Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis. I didn’t have the foggiest idea about the difference between many of the courses on my class schedule. “Civil Procedure?” “Property?” I had a lot to learn before I read a single case or statute.

In the afternoon of my first day — after our morning contracts class where Professor Wilson “made Mr. Adams famous” by being the first cold call of our law school career — I wandered into the large classroom on the third floor of Inlow Hall for something called “torts.” On the projection screen was a slide announcing that Professor Andrew R. Klein would teach the class. The name sounded familiar. I looked down at the text book. It turned out that he wrote it — of course.

Professor Klein had a collegial and jovial style, more of an Aristotle than Socratic method. He used PowerPoint like a Samurai sword. He taught us the fundamental concepts of duty, breach and proximate causation. He introduced us to Palsgraf and Daubert. We learned about mass torts, toxic torts and intentional torts. He told us war stories from his days at Sidley Austin as a young associate working on mass tort litigation. He made the practice of law tangible and exciting. It’s the reason he’s won 10 student teaching awards during his career.

After I graduated law school and started working at Baker & Daniels, I ended up on the newly formed Products Liability Team. Many of the concepts I learned from Professor Klein were put to immediate use. My first project was helping to defend a Daubert challenge, and the first resource I turned to was Professor Klein’s book. Most of my practice continues to be torts at its core, and I’m a better lawyer having learned the subject from Professor Klein.

In the years since, I have stayed in close contact with Dean Klein, primarily through the IndyBar. During my leadership in the Indianapolis Bar Foundation, Dean Klein was a regular at our IBF events. He was quick to support the IBF and encouraged others to do so as well. In 2010, he was elected as a Distinguished Fellow.

Later, during my Board tenure with the IndyBar, Dean Klein was a constant presence. He provided a critical link between the law school and the Indianapolis legal community. He was always incisive and provided an important voice to many critical issues that have confronted our community over the years. In particular, he has been integral to IndyBar’s Bar Exam Task Force. Given his obligations to now-IU McKinney — and an insane travel schedule — his energy and commitment to IndyBar has been remarkable.

Now, as President of the IndyBar, I can say Dean Klein’s presence has been doubly important. He has made imperative contributions to this year’s events — how to support law students and lawyers working remotely, the future of the Indiana Bar examination during and after the pandemic, supporting law students in an uncertain legal market, providing guidance to IndyBar Review and responding to issues of racial injustice. Quite unexpectedly, Dean Klein has become an important mentor and friend. I know I’m only one of many in our community who has been affected by Dean Klein’s simultaneous commitment to safeguard his students, the profession and the public

Luckily, Dean Klein routinely tells us that he isn’t going anywhere after his one-year sabbatical. He intends to return to the classroom at IU McKinney. Law students will be better off for it. He intends to continue to support the IndyBar and the IBF and, in turn, the Indianapolis legal community. Our profession will be better off for it. Personally, I look forward to his continued guidance and mentorship. I will be better off for it. And, when he does return to the classroom, I just might audit one of his classes — no longer unwitting (I hope), but still with a lot to learn about my own practice from Dean Klein.

Congratulations on your wonderful tenure as dean, and good luck in your future endeavors. We look forward to seeing you at many IndyBar events to come! •

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