A force of one

A simple Internet research experiment with the words, “distinguish yourself in the marketplace,” yielded on the first page of search results about a dozen links to websites purporting to help a reader accomplish marketplace differentiation. In this world where everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, seems to be chasing the same dime, how can we make a difference as individual lawyers, judges, educators and administrative professionals? Can one person really make a difference?

I was the 15th Indiana State Bar president to receive an invitation to keynote at a joint meeting of the Anderson Rotary Club and the Madison County Bar Association on Dec. 2. The Community Service Award Luncheon began more than 15 years ago when Madison County Bar and Anderson Rotary Club member Charles H. Dickmann and his wife, Hazel Dickmann, gave a $100,000 gift to the Charles H. Dickmann/Madison County Bar Association Endowment Fund, which provides money for distribution each year to a charity chosen by the Community Service Award recipient. This year’s recipients, Ricker Oil Company and convenience store founders Jay & Nancy Ricker, directed this year’s endowment distribution toward the Madison County Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

The story of the Charles H. Dickmann/Madison County Bar Association Endowment Fund does not stand out as an unparalleled philanthropic effort in Indiana, the United States or the world – other philanthropists have matched or exceeded the Dickmanns’ generosity. The story stands out because one hard-working, World War II veteran lawyer cared enough about his profession and community to invest his time and treasure in the improvement of both. Sure, it helps to have enough material wealth to impact the world with monetary gifts, but an individual’s time commitment can have an impact on the world in ways that money cannot scratch. Charlie Dickmann demonstrated that principle by promoting professionalism and philanthropy through his active participation in his church, community organizations, local bar and the ISBA.

One day after the Anderson luncheon, the Indiana State Bar Association announced the names of the 2015 class of its Leadership Development Academy (LDA). Ask any LDA alumnus and you will hear a testimony about the multitude of ways that one lawyer, in coordination with a few others, can change lives and improve our part of the world. Those 25 new LDA members will participate in five sessions featuring professional facilitators and prominent speakers from various disciplines to inform participants about leadership principles and techniques, the importance of effective leaders in organizations to maximize efficiency and effectiveness, and the challenges and rewards of leadership in action. Click here to see the 2015 LDA class list.

LDA is just one of many ways Indiana State Bar members can find leadership opportunities and expand their professional horizons. Here are some more ways to live larger through association membership

  • writing and speaking for a CLE program
  • suggesting new ways to help implement our long-range plan
  • sharing ideas about using our new website and membership database
  • serving as a “Talk to a Lawyer Today” volunteer on MLK Day, Jan. 19
  • participating in the Women’s Bench Bar Retreat, Feb. 27-March 1
  • joining our partnership with Attorney General Zoeller in the March Against Hunger food drive
  • supporting the launch of new committees (most recent launch: Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Committee)
  • attending the Solo & Small Firm Conference, June 4-6
  • volunteering as a mentor in our Mentor Match program
  • learning law practice management skills at the Butler Business School for Lawyers

The Indiana State Bar Association has been paving the way for its members to distinguish themselves for more than a century. Members need not read self-help books or fly across the country to attend seminars to learn how to make a difference. Whether you are interested in volunteer service within your practice area or in a non-substantive service role, ISBA’s sections and committees offer countless ways to live out your distinct potential as a force of one.

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