Hilltop Experiences of a Hoosier Lawyer

April has filled this small town lawyer with rich and diverse experiences and memories. All of those experiences and memories have derived from and informed my identity as an Indiana lawyer and my responsibility as President of the Indiana State Bar Association.

Indiana Statehouse

Indiana Statehouse

The month stormed in at the climax of Indiana’s RFRA political firestorm when the Indiana General Assembly and Governor amended SEA 101 with SEA 50. The amendment allowed the NCAA Final Four to reclaim its anticipated spotlight from our internationally televised political spectacle and framed future dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity. I intended my April 3 post  in the  ISBA Prezblog to punctuate that controversial episode’s denouement with a recital of Indiana lawyers’ 14-year anti-discriminatory precedent embodied in  RPC 8.4(g).


Steve Spence presenting mediator ethics at the ISBA Disaster Relief Mediation training

Our ADR Section and its chair, Andrea Ciobanu, represented us very well with in an unprecedented disaster relief mediation training on Friday, April 10. The section hosted lawyers, mediators, and nonlawyer property and casualty claims adjusters in a full-day continuing mediation education program about the role of mediators in the settlement of disputed insurance claims following disasters like the 2008 flood and the 2012 tornado that devastated several towns in southern Indiana. The event corresponded with a collaboration of our Young Lawyers Section and the ABA Young Lawyers Division to build a disaster relief task force for Indiana and Illinois.

The Solo & Small Firm Conference Planning Committee invited me to attend their meeting on Monday April 13, and treated me to a delicious whipped cream pie in the face to promote fundraising for the American Cancer Society. If you have not already seen the video, I encourage you to watch it by clicking on the link in the preceding sentence. Once we cleaned up, the committee convened to add finishing touches to the 2015 ISBA Solo & Small Firm Conference that the committee will host in French Lick, Indiana, June 4 – 6.


Justice Awards Reception & Dinner at the National Archives


US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito greeting ABA Day volunteers after delivering welcoming remarks


ISBA President selfie at the Supreme Courtroom entrance

I flew out to Washington DC  with ISBA Executive Director Tom Pyrz and Associate Executive Director Susan Jacobs on Tuesday morning, April 14, for the annual ABA Day grassroots lobbying event. ISBA Past President Jim Dimos joined us as we climbed Capital Hill on Wednesday and Thursday with representatives of most other state bar associations to speak with members of Congress and their staffs about issues that affect lawyers and our clients. We met staff members and several members of the House of Representatives during ten Congressional office visits Wednesday and Thursday. The work was more intensive than I expected, but we felt that we made a productive connection in each visit. The ABA rewarded us for our efforts by hosting an awards dinner at the National Archives on Tuesday night and a reception at the US Supreme Court  on Wednesday night. (In case anyone is wondering, we may have just missed the postal worker’s helicopter landing on the Capital lawn and I only heard of the incident during a mobile phone check-in with my wife as our Congressional office visits concluded that day.)

2015 IU Maurer School of Law Academy of Law Alumni Fellows dinner

2015 IU Maurer School of Law Academy of Law Alumni Fellows dinner

My week long ISBA experience concluded Friday, April 17, with the IU Maurer School of Law Board of Visitors meeting and at the law school’s Academy of Law Alumni Fellows reception and dinner honoring IU Provost Lauren Robel and the late Dean Len Fromm. It has been customary for the ISBA President-Elect to serve as an ex officio member of the IU McKinney School of Law Board of Visitors and for the ISBA president to serve in the same capacity on the IU Maurer School of Law Board of Visitors. Both boards welcomed me over the past two years and impressed me with their commitment to provide  high quality legal education.

I will attend the investiture ceremony at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis for newly appointed Southern Indiana District US Bankruptcy Judge Jeffrey J. Graham on Wednesday, April 22, and then drive to Chicago to attend the Illinois State Bar Association’s second annual Elder Law Boot Camp on April 23-24. I picked up some great ideas for the ISBA’s CLE programs at last year’s Elder Law Boot Camp and I look forward to gathering more material this year.

This busy ISBA month will conclude for me with the ISBA Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday, April 29, followed by the ISBA Young Lawyers Section’s Judicial Reception later that evening. We have many new judges in Indiana this year, and I encourage all ISBA members to come out and meet the judiciary during the reception at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Indianapolis.

It has been and continues to be my great honor to lead and represent the Indiana State Bar Association in Indiana and around the nation. We are actively fulfilling our strategic plan because passionate members are serving selflessly and leading confidently in countless ways. As I enter the second half of my term, I offer my gratitude and thanks to the Indiana State Bar Association for the spectacular opportunity to serve as its president.

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