Aunt Stella

By Carol M. Adinamis
ISBA President, 2015-16

I am so honored to be assuming the position of president of the Indiana State Bar Association. I’m in awe of all of those presidents I’m following and of the staff of the Association who make it such a wonderful organization. The ISBA has been so successful in addressing the needs of those in the legal profession and the public because of these leaders and because of your willingness to give of yourselves. It is my plan to continue that tradition of excellence. My journey to this place has been filled with twists and turns, each of which has taught me valuable lessons about life.

My trek to becoming a lawyer was something that was destined from the beginning, despite what I believed as I grew up. My paternal grandparents were immigrants from Greece, living and working in “Greek Town” in Chicago. Having only an 8th grade education, my grandfather felt strongly about his children having as much education as possible. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, it was unusual for a woman to have a college education, not to mention a degree beyond that. Yet my Aunt Stella managed to go to Northwestern for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees on a full scholarship, and then attend law school in the evenings while teaching Latin during the day. The only other woman in her law school was her future sister-in-law. She practiced for 50 years. In addition to this, she raised two wonderfully successful children as a single mother after her husband died very early in their marriage – all of this during a time when women were rarely working mothers, not to mention lawyers.

Adding to her challenges was the prejudice against those who were thought of as not “truly” American. She was a proud Greek American whose first language was Greek, yet for her professional career she was persuaded by such prejudice to change her name from Stella Adinamis to Stella Jean Adams.

As I compare my aunt’s challenges to those that I have faced, I am humbled by her strength and courage. She would say if she were alive today that she simply kept moving forward, facing each challenge as it came. She never complained about those challenges, and she never bragged about overcoming them; they were simply fact. That attitude is one I aspire to adopt.

We all have faced and continue to face different challenges in life. It is the recognition that while our challenges may look different, they are still obstacles we must each overcome, and that is what makes us compassionate and kindhearted human beings.

As we embark on this year together, it’s my hope we will undertake what’s left to be accomplished by our long range plan; work hard to strengthen the benefits that the Association provides to its members, focusing on things that will allow each of you to practice law in a more efficient and effective manner; explore the ways in which we must change in order to stay relevant in the legal world despite the incredible competition we are facing from non-legal entities; and forge ahead with additional initiatives. I am grateful to have so many extraordinary people involved in this organization, and I plan to use their talents to the fullest. Your participation in the Indiana State Bar Association is key to its success, so I thank you in advance for your assistance and sacrifice.Chicago_cubs_logo

My goal is to make my Aunt Stella proud of me, as I am so extremely proud to be her niece. Her strength has had a tremendous impact on my life. Incidentally, her favorite sports team was the Chicago Cubs. When she was young, she and my Aunt Mary would bring baked goods to team members – this was when access to players was much easier, of course. So in memory of her – GO CUBS!

Thank you for allowing me to serve as the president of the Indiana State Bar Association in the coming year. It is truly an extraordinary privilege.

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