New attorneys take oaths, told to be civil and kind

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Marilyn Odendahl for www.theindianalawyer.com

During the Indiana Supreme Court Admission Ceremony Tuesday in downtown Indianapolis, the state’s newest attorneys were reminded that how they conduct themselves as human beings will be just as important in their careers as their knowledge of the law.

The morning ceremony in the Indiana Roof Ballroom welcomed 137 new attorneys who took the oaths of the Indiana Supreme Court as well as the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern districts of Indiana. Several family and friends sitting behind the admittees raised their phones to take photos and video as the oaths were administered.

Judges from the Indiana Court of Appeals along with the five Indiana Supreme Court Justices and the judge of the Indiana Tax Court attended the formal celebration. They congratulated the new lawyers on their accomplishment and welcomed them to the profession.

Many times, the attorneys were reminded to show their appreciation for all the support they received from their loved ones.

“Please be sure to take the time to thank those who helped you get here — the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and others who believed in you, encouraged you and perhaps even sacrificed so that you could be here this morning,” said Judge William Lawrence of the Southern Indiana District Court. “I hope that none of you forget to show your appreciation for those who made this long journey possible.”

The ceremony also became a time for judges who will be coming to end of their careers to offer their pieces of advice and for the newest Indiana Supreme Court Justice to provide his insight into all that is required to be an attorney.

Indiana Court of Appeals Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik deferred her remarks to Judge Michael Barnes, who will be stepping down June 1 after 18 years on the appellate bench. Vaidik said if she had to choose one word to described Barnes, it would be “honest.”

Barnes told the new attorneys to be truthful and act with integrity and compassion. “These qualities are especially important for any person but acutely and keenly so for a lawyer,” he said.

Lawrence, who will be taking senior status July 1, told the new attorneys while their journey to this point followed a predictable series of steps that included completing an undergraduate degree, making good grades, finishing law school and successfully conquering the bar exam, their lives going forward would measure accomplishments differently.

“From now on, people will judge you not by your achievements but rather by how you are in your heart,” Lawrence said. “You will be remembered for your generosity, thoughtfulness, courtesy and kindness. People will not talk of your grade point average but of your loyalty, your devotion to your family and your passion about those things that are important to you.”

Indiana Justice Christopher Goff, who joined the Supreme Court July 24, 2017, echoed the advice of Barnes and Lawrence.

“Beginning today, you are the face of justice in Indiana,” Goff said. “In the years to come, you will serve hundreds and perhaps thousands of clients. Your face, your words, your attitudes are what will shape their feelings toward the justice system. Treat them with dignity and respect, give their case your best efforts, be a model of civility, take care of yourself because people are depending on you; take care of yourself because you are worth it.”

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