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Cultivating justice

Throughout this year I have, and will have, the opportunity to get out of the office for reasons other than a trip to the courthouse. As your representative I’ve met and will continue to meet attorneys and judges across the state. The honor of serving as ISBA president has provided me with a reaffirmation of my long-held belief that Indiana is blessed with a committed bar and a solid, independent and competent bench. Our attorneys as a whole are civil to one another and their opponents, and are committed to not only their clients and causes, but also to their communities. Our judges value and defend the independence necessary to our system of justice, and individually and collectively are engaged in identifying and addressing ever-changing needs within our system. Our law schools are far from stagnant “ivory towers” or think tanks. Certainly our state is full of well-published professors, but from my experience and observation, each is committed to equipping their students with the skills, knowledge and beliefs necessary for those students to have a full and satisfying life within the practice of law.

I am truly blessed this year to have preferred seating and extraordinary access to repeated displays of so many things that make practicing law in Indiana a fulfilling life choice, but we all have the opportunity to appreciate the satisfaction that comes from helping others and the enjoyment of the fruits of our labors. This year, I have the opportunity to see the results of much of your good works within your communities and across the state. In every other year, the value given in the practice of law is seen in the results of hard work and diligence.

My practice is a general civil practice. Like many of you, my clients have varied issues, concerns and opportunities. The sometimes voluminous matters all seem to move at a different pace. Some matters demand immediate attention because of deadlines established by the courts or because of the need to allow my client to retain a potential opportunity. Some matters take up long periods of time because of the volume of material or issues involved. As the years have worn on, many of us have learned that at its most basic level the practice of law involves hard work, attention to detail, advocacy and giving advice. Pretty good days involve cultivating justice one shovel at a time and conclude with our having moved several matters along, a brief timely filed, a matter concluded or the jury coming back with a verdict.

But the days that are really worth savoring are the days when several matters successfully conclude all within the confines of a single day. If you haven’t had one of those days yet, keep at it and you will. Just imagine a day that delivers the following: closing a deal that you’ve helped hold together for months; receiving in the mail a favorable opinion from the Court of Appeals; getting word of a favorable ruling from a trial court; and receiving an e-mail from the federal district court with an order that reads like your brief.

Such days seem like stars in alignment or bright lights illuminating the effort and attention given to the broad range of details that is your law practice.

General practitioners have difficulty responding to the simple request to describe their typical day because each day literally brings something different, and many end up being much different than what was on your calendar. We spend many of our days digging into files and pulling out parts or pieces necessary to move toward the goals of our clients or to accomplish the tasks at hand. But take heart, keep at it, and journey on because with sincere effort you’ll enjoy some days where you can spend the day contacting clients with good news – days where you find yourself unearthing justice shovelful upon shovelful.