How the Bar Leader Series is Shaping the Next Wave of Attorney Leaders

by Joe Delehanty

If you're not an attorney in Indiana, it's likely you've never heard of The Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series program. But don't let that take away from its importance. The Bar Leader Series is designed to connect young, energized lawyers with leaders in Central Indiana in order to help them grow into future leaders themselves.

I'm honored to say I recently participated and graduated from this program.

In all, the program consists of a select group who meet monthly for focused and informative training sessions. Each month is associated with a theme such as civic engagement, the legal community, or volunteerism, and within this theme, the participants meet people such as the Mayor of Indianapolis, managing partners at major law firms, and local non-profit directors.

Outside of these structured training and networking events, the participants are divided into teams, and each team is tasked with developing a group project designed to help an underserved portion of the community. My team chose to work with the Reuben Engagement Center (REC), which provides shelter, case management, mental health evaluations, and housing referrals to chronically homeless people in our city.

The REC is certainly worth looking into in more detail, but in short, it serves as an alternative to incarceration and hospitalization for homeless individuals who are experiencing traumatic, substance-abuse related events. The REC is staffed with healthcare professionals, law enforcement, and volunteers who ensure the environment is safe and productive. Unfortunately, it's far too common for individuals in Indiana who deal with substance abuse issues to be jailed or hospitalized, but the REC provides a safe space that's dedicated to breaking the cycle of substance abuse, all while lowering costs to our community.

My team and I had a chance to help the REC directly in accomplishing its goals by way of serving as temporary legal support for REC guests. We developed a framework to provide limited legal advice and representation to the guests in practice areas common to homelessness. It involved significant research into the network of homeless care and aid options, as well as criminal, estate, and family law.

Throughout the program series, I also met our community’s most creative and dedicated thought leaders. It was inspiring to see our potential recognized by others, and to have a direct line of communication to major decision makers in Indianapolis. Even now, a few months removed from graduation, I still feel the drive and inherent spark from these interactions. I also feel the experiences I have gained carried over to my day-to-day role as an attorney at Gutwein Law.

At our firm, we make these types of interactions a priority. Our clients are some of the most forward-thinking businesses in Indiana (and the Midwest at large), and in order to properly advise our clients, we need to match their attention to new trends and movements within the community.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in The Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series program, I'd strongly encourage it. And if you have any questions, or would like to talk in more detail about my experiences, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at 317.777.7920.