Own it

By ISBA President Jeff R. Hawkins

If you are reading this column, you are probably a member or associate member of the Indiana State Bar Association. Your ISBA is a 118-year-old, voluntary association of more than 12,000 lawyers, judges and affiliated non-lawyer professionals. About 1,200 of your fellow members provide volunteer service among ISBA’s 42 committees, 27 sections, our Board of Governors and House of Delegates. Through this complex web of volunteer service, you help advocate for the civil rights of children, teach new lawyers how to practice law competently, comment on proposed rules of practice, promote and defend the independence of the judiciary, advocate for improved legislation, promote lawyers’ physical and mental fitness, and many, many other noble pursuits. Your ISBA participation makes you an essential part of an amazingly effective professional service organization.

You and I live and work together as American and Hoosier legal professionals of diverse cultures and perspectives. As judges, lawyers and non-lawyer professionals, our world revolves around the rule of law and the administration of justice. One of our most prized professional attributes is that we can serve our professional interests, even when we disagree, without forfeiting or diminishing our rights and privileges as citizens. No matter what issues divide us as freethinking people, we remain united as Americans, Hoosiers and members of Indiana’s largest association of legal professionals – the Indiana State Bar Association.

We are people of many ages, cultures, races, ethnic origins, abilities, sexual orientations, gender identities, practice environments and perspectives. This rich diversity empowers us to grow, evolve and adapt to changing economic and political realities that confront us now and with certainty will emerge in the future.

Last year, the ISBA House of Delegates added two at-large Board of Governors seats so that the Board would more fully reflect the diverse ISBA membership composition. We recently established a new Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity (SOGI) Committee to build bridges for members of all sexual orientations and gender identities. On Nov. 20, the ISBA will present a CLE program focusing on disabilities and how we, as lawyers and ISBA members, can serve, embrace and engage clients and fellow legal professionals that live with physical and mental disabilities. We are also reaching out into the far corners of the state to engage lawyers and other legal professionals so that all of our members may experience fulfilling engagement as members of a thriving professional association.

Again, if you’re reading this article, you are probably one of the members I am describing. The Indiana State Bar belongs to you, and it cherishes you as one of its members. I encourage you to own your ISBA membership and enjoy all that membership offers you. Like many things, your Association’s value relates directly to how you live out your membership. I invite you, as a member whose professional fellowship I cherish, to live large as an ISBA member and to own it as your Indiana State Bar Association.

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