Indiana’s newest attorneys were congratulated on their admission to the bar and welcomed to the practice of law Wednesday with soaring rhetoric and practical advice from their colleagues in the bar and on the bench.
The Indiana Supreme Court’s Admission Ceremony took place in the Sagamore Ballroom of the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. More than 275 were eligible for admission, having passed the Indiana Bar Exam and found to be of good moral character and fitness.
“You’ve earned a great privilege today but you assume a big responsibility as well, and it’s one you know you can fulfill,” Justice Mark Massa told the new attorneys.
After introducing themselves to the state and federal judiciary, the new attorneys took the oath of admission to the Indiana Supreme Court as well as to the Southern and Northern Indiana District Courts.
Prior to the Indiana oath, Chief Justice Loretta Rush asked new attorney Jack Kiely to stand. She told him everyone was pleased he had passed the bar and that his father, Vanderburgh Circuit Judge David Kiely, would be administering the oath. Then the judge, attired in his black judicial robe, stepped to the microphone and led the reciting of the oath.
When the new admittees finished, the crowd of parents, spouses, siblings, children and friends cheered.
Massa asked the new lawyers to remember the gravity of the pledge they had just taken to support and defend the Constitution, noting no natural-born American, unless going into the military or taking public office, has to make a similar promise.
Attorneys, he said, are given the responsibility of forming a more perfect union, establishing justice and insuring domestic tranquility.
“At a time when the country and culture seem to be always teetering on the knife’s edge, it’s up to lawyers to keep things on the level,” Massa said. “Whatever you chose to do with your license, whether you provide the legal lubrication for commercial transactions, whether you prosecute criminals for harming others or take on the equal noble task of protecting the rights and holding the state to the truth for liberty to be deprived, whether you mediate domestic dispute or engage in the sad and all too frequent dissolution of marriages, custody decisions, dividing family assets, whether you advise in estate planning, probate matters, real estate transactions, debt collections, personal injury, or insurance defense, whatever path you chose, you will be protecting the rule of law that holds it all together.”
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said being a lawyer was the “noblest profession of all” and, like Massa, reminded the new admittees that their role as an attorney is to be a guardian of justice. Too often, he said, truth and justice are cast aside as relics of an irrelevant past, but “there is nothing irrelevant about truth and justice.”
“It is now your duty to rise up and defend freedom, to uphold and support the Constitution, to be the guardians of justice in the face of a weary world,” Hill said.
Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Melissa May offered practical advice to the new attorneys as they begin their legal careers. She emphasized they must be civil to clients, fellow attorneys and the courts even when the other person is “trying very hard to get on your last nerve.”
She told them to make civility the cornerstone of their practices and she offered a list of things for them to do.
“Be a lawyer that other lawyers and judges can trust; be on time; be prepared; and don’t get pulled into needless discovery disputes,” May said. “When you’re writing anything, an email, text messages or letters, image how it would sound if read aloud in open court because it that doesn’t make you conscious of the importance of civility, nothing will.”
Then she reminded them while they were celebrating today, they had work to do starting tomorrow.
“Welcome to the practice of law in Indiana,” May said. “We look forward to seeing you in court.”