SB 1 fanning worries about recruiting: Attorneys concerned abortion ban could make IN unattractive to new hires

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Indianapolis attorney William Rosenbaum said he sees a link between the abortion ban being crafted in the Indiana Statehouse and the number of lawyer jobs being filled in Indiana.

“The highly talented young lawyers that we’re most looking to get, they’re the ones that have choices,” Rosenbaum said. “And anytime that Indiana comes up in the low rankings in terms of education or, in this case, in protecting the freedom of privacy, I think that’s a negative impact on recruiting and retaining attorneys.”

Rosenbaum’s firm, Rosenbaum Law P.C., is among more than 200 Hoosier businesses that recently signed a letter calling on lawmakers to maintain access to reproductive health. The “Don’t Ban Equality” letter was circulated by the ACLU of Indiana prior to the start of the special legislative session.

“Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence, and economic stability of our employees and customers,” the letter stated. “Simply put, it goes against our values and is bad for business.”

In addition to Rosenbaum, other firms signing the letter were Bolling Law Office, Camron Legal Group LLC, Conrad Legal, Flood Family Law LLC, Mann Law P.C., Redelman Law LLC, Schlueter Breman LLC and Trent Law firm LLC. Attorney Mark Small also signed.

The letter was issued about the same time that Sidley Austin LLP drew the attention of Texas legislators. According to Reuters, the lawmakers warned they were pursuing legal action after the international law firm told its employees it would reimburse the expenses for traveling out of state to receive an abortion.

Republican legislators in Indiana have convened to draft and pass a new law that would enact a near-total ban on abortion Much of the debate has focused on the definition of when life begins and the exceptions for when a woman can terminate her pregnancy. Lawmakers have not amended any travel ban into the bill, nor have they discussed any language or lawsuits against businesses.

Indiana Lawyer surveyed the top 10 largest law firms in Indianapolis about the potential impact of an abortion ban. The firms were asked if they were concerned that more restrictions on abortion would negatively impact the recruitment and retention of attorneys.

None of the firms responded.

Joshua Shirley said he is not surprised. The managing director at Kinney Recruiting said law firms are staying on the sidelines publicly as the abortion debate roils around the country.

Still, they likely are having to address the issue internally. Shirley said legal recruits will be asking about the reproductive-related benefits firms offer and will consider that an important factor in their decision-making process.

“I think the firms that are smart and are savvy with recruitment, and care about their employees and want to offer them all the benefits that they can, they’re going to be a lot better off in the long run,” he said. “They will have more success in the long run recruiting than firms that don’t offer these things or offer them on a case-by-case basis.”

Indianapolis solo practitioner Katherine Flood said she signed the letter because she believes “reproductive rights are human rights.” Also, being pro-abortion, Flood has done pro bono work with the Indiana Judicial Bypass Project, which helps minors get court injunctions against the state’s parental notification abortion law.

Like Rosenbaum, Flood said she is worried any ban the Legislature enacts will dissuade young lawyers from practicing in the Hoosier State. However, she is not concerned that her support of abortion will harm her firm’s bottom line.

“If a client chooses to take their business elsewhere, then that’s the right decision for that client,” Flood said. “Generally, speaking, I’m fairly outspoken about my political viewpoints. I tend to attract clients who probably are more in line with the way I think about things, but I certainly have represented clients which whom I disagree politically.”•

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