Like the two previous admission ceremonies, the Tuesday induction for the new admittees to the Indiana bar was held virtually. But this time, along with introducing themselves to the state and federal judiciary, the freshly minted lawyers took a few minutes to thank those who helped them get to this day.
Parents, spouses, fiancees and children along with siblings, friends, professors, lawyers and even a couple of dogs were among those credited with providing the love and support needed to conquer law school and ace the bar exam.
Amanda Elworthy was among several who thanked Tina Hopson, deputy director of the Office of Admissions and Continuing Education, while Jima Fahnbulleh thanked the Board of Law Examiners for grading the exams. Mary Allgier echoed many when she spoke of her faith and thanked God. Mark Abell and Brandon Smith mentioned their grandfathers whom they were following into the law, and Melissa Michie thanked her dad who had the “insane idea that as a wife and mother over 40 that I could go to law school.”
Seventy-six individuals were cleared for admission during the morning ceremony, which was held remotely because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush welcomed the new lawyers and introduced her judicial colleagues from around the state who appeared on screen seated in either their courtrooms or chambers.
Magistrate Judge John Martin of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana focused on the lessons taught by the pandemic and on the observation of Joseph Kurucz, one of the new admittees. Kurucz thanked his parents and then said, “Now, I’m really excited to get out there and start helping people.”
Martin told the admittees the past 14 months of social distancing, remote working and learning, and being separated from family and friends has underscored the “value of helping others and having others help us.”
He pointed out that attorneys first and foremost help people. They assist others in understanding the system and navigating when the law intersects with their lives.
“It’s your responsibility to represent people and help them through difficult legal times,” Martin said. “I feel very strongly that this group of people that we heard from today, through the unique circumstances in which you graduated law school, took the bar exam, passed the bar exam and lived your life this last year or so, that you have a great sense of that.”
Rush also noted the trying times brought on by the coronavirus but reminded the new lawyers that the crisis has brought an opportunity to create a more just world.
She advised the new admittees to find and focus on the injustices that speak loudest to them and to envision what a better society would look like. Finally, she counseled them to get out of their comfort zones, meet new people, temper justice with love and empathy, and remember that every setback may be laying the groundwork for future success.
“Today I reminded you of the injustices of the world, but as you sit here today these struggles shouldn’t scare you. They should excite you, energize you, empower you,” Rush said. “As new lawyers you’ve been given the foundation upon which you can pursue not just a job or a career but a path to a more just society. You all can and will change the world, and we can’t wait to see what you can do.”