Welcoming the new Indiana lawyers on Friday, Chief Justice Loretta Rush said the course represented a series of firsts for the state legal profession – they were the first to be admitted in a ceremony in person in two years and were the first to take the Bar Exam uniform.
Remarks from judicial officials at the State Court of Appeals and the Federal Court reminded new lawyers that they are also beginning their legal practice at a time of dynamic change. The judges who spoke emphasized the rule of law and the important role lawyers play as guardians of justice and guardians of American institutions.
Indiana Court of Appeal Judge Edward Najam Jr. told the admissions that he was called to the Indiana Bar almost 49 years ago. Now, as they kick off their legal careers on the one-yard line, he was 80 yards down the field and into the red zone.
However, like previous lawyers, new lawyers have a duty not only to their future clients, but also to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the laws of the land.
âThe integrity of the judicial process relies in large part on the integrity of lawyers. And your oath requires a commitment to objective truth, âNajam said. âTruth is neither subjective nor relative. Courts are about fact, not fiction. Thus, both our state and federal courts have systematically rejected so-called alternative facts and have held firm to the fundamental principle that before the courts, in law, only objective truth matters. â¦ Respect for the truth is the common thread and fundamental value of the legal profession and is essential to the preservation of the rule of law and our constitutional democracy.
In another first, the ceremony took place the same day that Judge Derek Molter began his term on the Indiana Court of Appeals. The new admissions and all who attended the ceremony congratulated Molter with a round of applause.
This was the first in-person admission ceremony since October 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the ceremonies for May 2020 and 2021 as well as October 2020 to take place virtually. Still, the coronavirus had an impact on the celebration, with everyone present being required to wear masks and no reception was held afterwards.
As in the past, the October 2021 admission ceremony was held in the Sagamore Ballroom at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. New entrants were seated in the front, with their families and friends filling the chairs behind them.
Indiana Board of Examiners Vice Chair Shelice Tolbert said 300 passed the bar exam on July 27 and 28.
Before filing the motion for admission, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita told the admissions that with their clients, the whole of society will benefit from their wise legal advice.
“Our founders created a nation in which the rule of law was meant to apply to all equally, and you, as lawyers, will be responsible for the management of this sacred tradition,” said senior lawyer for Indiana. âSo I ask all of you to help us preserve American freedom for future generations. Please help us stay focused on achieving true and equal justice for all. “
In keeping with tradition, two sitting judges whose children were among the new lawyers were sworn in to the Indiana Supreme Court. Owen Circuit Judge Lori Thatcher Quillen, mother of Jordan Quillen, and Wells Senior Judge Andrew Antrim, father of Jacob Antrim, jointly led all admitted to the oath.
On the other tradition of opening the ceremony with each new admissions presenting themselves personally to the assembled jurists, Southern Indiana District Court Chief Justice Tanya Walton Pratt noted the diversity of new admissions.
âThe opportunity to become a lawyer is no longer limited by economic privilege, gender, race, sexual orientation or even age,â said Walton Pratt. ââ¦ The diversity of our bar makes our profession richer, stronger and more credible. Your individual differences, your intellect, and your insight are well suited to the problems of this time. And our problems are great.
Trial Judge John Martin of the Northern District of Indiana opened his doors offering practical advice to new lawyers.
Martin recounted an incident when he was a young lawyer and the opposing lawyer was late in court. Finally arriving, the other lawyer apologized and explained that he had had a flat tire, to which the judge berated, “Well, why don’t you leave in time to allow for a flat tire?” “
He then told the admitted that if their training for the profession so far had followed a specific roadmap, their careers as practicing lawyers would not have such a map or set of instructions. But, he said, that means the sky is the limit.
âYou can make a difference in hundreds of thousands of lives or you can make a difference in a person’s life,â Martin said. ââ¦ We can work in a profession where you can make a living, but you can also make a huge difference in people’s lives. Whether it is a lifetime or you are changing the entire world as a whole, you are changing a world.
Judge Steven David has had the last word. He reminded new entrants to never forget where they came from, no matter how many titles or awards they might receive.
âToday you got a new title, ‘Indiana lawyer’,â David told the new admissions. âBut each of you already has a name. Each of you is already an individual, no more important, no less important than anyone else.
âRemember this in the future. â¦ Don’t let any new or subsequent titles get in your way. Behind each name hides a story. â¦ Your story matters. Own your own name and your own story.
The ceremony ended with a final nod to tradition as Rush asked the new admissions to stand up, turn around and thank the many who have helped them become lawyers.