Category: Public Service

A Veterans Day Spotlight: ISBA Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee

To commemorate Veterans Day, we asked members of the State Bar’s Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee to share with us what this day means to them and why involvement with this committee is important. Harold R. “Hal” Johnston II, Lt. Col., U.S. Army (retired) Court Coordinator, Indianapolis Veterans Court What Veterans Day means to you:

Read More

Problems? Become Part of the Solution!

In a story attributed to Abraham Lincoln’s circuit riding days, the judge reportedly asked Lincoln one afternoon if he had heard Abe make the opposite argument in another case that morning. The future president reportedly answered something like, “yes, your honor, but I was wrong this morning.” Law schools train students to analyze problems and

Read More

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. The month stormed in at the climax of Indiana’s RFRA political firestorm when the

Read More

2015 Indiana Civic Health Index

Former US Congressman Lee H. Hamilton, former Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, and Indiana Bar Foundation President Donald Lundberg gathered lawyers, college and law school representatives, congressional staffers, and several high-ranking Indiana government officials at a Monday luncheon to discuss Indiana’s civic health. The event kicked off a series of presentations that the luncheon’s

Read More

Building Bridges

Jennifer and I had a wonderful time visiting the Kimbrough Bar Association and the Lake County Bar Association this past week. Both groups extended warm hospitality as we reunited with old friends and picked up some new ones. The experiences and conversations of both gatherings left several impressions on me that seem fit for sharing.

Read More

What are we defending, and from whom?

By Jeff R. Hawkins, ISBA President 2014-15 A few hundred of my fellow citizens and I shared the privilege of witnessing 64 people’s first citizenship moment on Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, during a naturalization ceremony at in the beautiful Grand Hall of Union Station in downtown Indianapolis. The inspirational experience punctuated the two-day ‘We the

Read More

Does “Talk to a Lawyer Today” really make a difference?

ISBA President Jim Dimos appeared on WISH-TV to promote Monday’s “Talk to a Lawyer Today” program resulting in all seven lines being lit up by members of the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 20.

By Patricia L. McKinnon, Esq.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For thirteen years, the Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA) has honored the legacy of Dr. King Jr., by offering the “Talk To A Lawyer Today” program.  Held on Dr. King Jr.’s celebrated birthday, the program is a coordinated effort, with the pro bono plan administrators across Indiana, to offer free legal advice to the general public.  Attorneys offer brief legal consultations, either through a phone call, or through a face-to-face consultation at more than 20 locations across Indiana. More than 200 Indiana attorneys volunteer for this program each year.

But, does the program really make a difference?

This year, I spoke, by phone, to a 95-year-old woman, “… in perfect health,” regarding retaining an attorney to draw up a Will, a Living Will, and a Power of Attorney. The only document she currently possesses is Trust. A Trust written over 10 years ago. She thought the terms of the Trust were enough to cover all the end-of-life issues, including whether or not she would remain on life support during her final illness.

Another caller didn’t understand his options regarding applying to restrict access to his past criminal history. He is looking for a job and worried that his one felony conviction, committed over 10 years ago, would prevent him from landing a new job.

Another, younger woman didn’t know about the existence of federal and state agencies that might be able assist her in enforcing her doctor’s instructions that she stand no more than four hours per day on her job. She has rheumatoid arthritis. Her doctor’s letter is on file with her employer, but is routinely ignored by her boss, who says, “What are we supposed to do?  The work still has to be done.”

These are just a few examples from my own contact with callers that contacted the ISBA by calling the “800” number that rings directly into the ISBA office. It is the same “800” number that attorneys across Indiana can use to contact the ISBA regarding membership questions or issues. As you can imagine, the ISBA continues to receive requests for assistance from the public long after the “Talk To A Lawyer Today” program is over.

Does our program truly make a difference?  You be the judge.

%d bloggers like this: