Indiana Lawyer: Give us some of your biographical information.
Pinkie: 48 years young; owner, operator, attorney at Pinkie Law LLC; born and raised in East Chicago until I was 13 and then we moved to Munster; I count them both as my hometown and still love the Region. Now it’s a nice place to visit but I would not want to live there.
What’s your educational background?
I went to Ball State University for undergrad and graduated in 1995 with a B.S. in criminal justice and criminology. I went to law school at Ohio Northern University from 1997 to 2000. I may go back to school for fun someday but currently have no plans to do so.
What’s your career background?
I was fortunate enough to get a summer clerkship at Kightlinger & Gray in Indianapolis in the summer of 1999 in between my second and third year of law school. It was there that I was introduced to civil litigation for the defense and had a great summer experience. I was invited back after I graduated law school and I stayed there until December 2006. In January 2007, I continued my defense practice at what was then Hoover Hull LLP, and I stayed there until the end of 2011. I then joined Schultz & Pogue LLP at the beginning of 2012 and left at the end of 2015 and joined Cline Law Group and was there until August 2020, when I started my own law firm. I went from a large firm to medium firms to a small firm to my own firm.
How did you end up working as a solo practitioner?
After 20 years of practicing law with and for other people, it was time for me to do it alone. When the pandemic hit in 2020, it created an opportunity for some self-reflection and soul-searching. I took that opportunity, and after several deep discussions with my wife, professional colleagues and other trusted advisers, I decided to open my own law firm. Law firms are different animals and business models, and each one is run differently. I’ve learned a lot from each firm I worked at and am grateful for those opportunities and lessons learned.
How did you become involved in DTCI?
I was asked by mentor Joan Irick in 2000 to become a member and attend the DTCI Rookie Seminar for new attorneys. I was a new lawyer then, having just been sworn in. The event was at the then-new Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and I went. I became interested in learning more about the organization, and I’ve been a member ever since. If I am not mistaken, our executive director Lisa Mortier actually checked me in at the registration table for the Rookie Seminar, as she was new to the organization back then, too. It’s crazy to think that was that long ago, but it was.
Once you joined DTCI, how did you get into leadership positions? What positions have you held?
I don’t recall DTCI having the opportunities for young lawyers 21 years ago as compared to today. My main focus at that time in my career was my legal work, and while I was a member of DTCI, I didn’t start to get into leadership positions until probably around 2012. Kori Chambers was also becoming more involved in DTCI, and we were both at Schultz & Pogue together and frequently attended DTCI events. I started with serving on the Trial Tactics Section and then eventually became section chair. A need later arose for a new Legislative Committee chair and I took that opportunity. These roles greatly increased my involvement in DTCI. I also started regularly attending DTCI events, inclusive of the annual conference and meeting. When the opportunity arose to become an officer in DTCI, I did not hesitate. I previously served as the treasurer and secretary.
What initiatives/issues do you plan to focus on during your year as DTCI president?
I plan to take a look at the need for a new section or committee. We have a vibrant Women in the Law Committee and a great Young Lawyer Committee. But what about those DTCI members who were previously involved in our organization and are now looking toward retirement or may have recently retired? What about the past presidents of DTCI that may like to reintegrate with the membership? I think it would be beneficial to the membership to incorporate these defense lawyers into more of our programming and offerings by way of a committee or section. Another area that may be ripe for a new section is data security and privacy law. This area of law has seen a large amount of growth compared to 10 years ago. Attorney wellness is also of interest to me, and DTCI started taking a look at this even before the pandemic.
I also want to take a look at any defense-specific law practice management resources we may be able to offer our members. One of DTCI’s primary missions is to help members with the management of their law practices. Lastly, I also want to build on the good work under Kori Chambers’ leadership with the Arsenal Tech Mock Trial Team, and reinventing our newsletter. Maybe we can even give the newsletter a name for next year. Myself, I always liked caselaw updates, so maybe we’ll see if we can get some of those started again too!
What challenges, pandemic or otherwise, do you foresee DTCI facing over the next year?
Increasing our membership has been one of our goals that remains challenging to DTCI. As we are all hopeful the pandemic will subside, I know a lot of DTCI members would welcome the opportunity to get back to in-person events and CLE programming. I still do not think we know what the new normal holds for civil defense litigators and our practice.
What do you get out of being a DTCI member?
I’ve developed friendships with colleagues that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to, had it not been for DTCI. I’ve also been fortunate to meet several members of the Indiana General Assembly and work with our lobbyist and members on legislative initiatives. DTCI also provides a great support network through its members, and most members are happy to help out fellow members if they have a particular question or issue that may require some assistance.
What would you say to a lawyer who is considering joining DTCI?
Please join and give us a try and let us know how we can assist. Similar to other professional organizations, members can expect to get out of DTCI what they put into it. It’s a great organization for defense lawyers in Indiana, and it would be awesome if we could increase our membership in 2022 to include more civil litigation defense lawyers as members. I think we have a lot to offer our members, and the offerings just continue to grow. I also think it is an exciting time to join DTCI as we continue to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on our profession and organization.
Anything else we should know?
Speaking of COVID-19, this year is the first time in several years that I am missing our annual conference and meeting in French Lick. I recently came down with flu and COVID-19 symptoms and had to cancel my trip. Not an ideal situation at all, but I hope to have my health back soon and look forward to serving DCTI as its 55th president.•