Message from the ITLA President
Mark C. Ladendorf
Can you remember preparing for and taking your first deposition of a defendant? Or the night before you attended your first hearing in a court of law? How about the first time you spoke before a United States District Court Judge on an issue that would decide the case?
All of us have experienced these moments where butterflies have erupted in your stomach and anxiety is more than a state of mind. Everyone has memories of their first case, their first win/loss, their initial settlement, and a vivid first-hand account of the time a judge admonished you for however slight a mistake of decorum. These memories signify the life of a trial lawyer and the rubber band swing of day-to-day change that goes with it.
I remember a day where I received phone calls from two clients. The first was praising me with accolades of thanks for being such a stellar advocate on their behalf at a time when they were in dire need. The other indicated he would never call me again because the $2,500.00 offer wasn’t even worth the time it took to hire me. The lesson that day was clear: it is not the far reaches of the spectrum that embodies your heart and makes us what we are; it is the BALANCE that makes our life meaningful, that gives us substance, and that defines our longevity in this profession.
As the pendulum of our practice swings both ways, take time to LISTEN to someone else’s problems, CARE for someone who reaches for your hand, and THANK the people in your life who have helped make you what you are. For the peers of my generation, we all know too well how short this journey can be. Make a difference each and every day to celebrate our purpose as lawyers, as counselors, as friends, and as human beings. Our destiny is derived each day of living so make your mark in the short time you are here.
At the end of your busy work day, do you ever look back into the pages of history and feel the prestige bestowed upon us as lawyers? We are truly part of an exemplary profession that boasts many of society’s greatest thinkers and advocates of justice. Each and every one of us is equipped with the tools to follow the righteous course to fight indifference, prejudice, greed and unbridled power. Given this honor and endowed with the opportunity to turn wrongs into rights, our purpose of balance is even more apparent. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. wrote:
“In law, as in life, we are challenged to walk with one foot in the spiritual realm and one in the material. As lawyers, we struggle to live by the values that bring happiness and keep us centered with God while embracing the tactics that bring us success in our professional endeavors.”
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Foreword to RESURRECTING AESOP: FABLES LAWYERS SHOULD REMEMBER, at i (Mike Panantonio, Seville Publishing) (2000).
This is our calling, a professional beckoning to do the right thing. As we carry the sword of righteousness into the battles of everyday life, we should always have as our companion a sense of commitment and the promotion and development of rules that safeguard the public from the excess of power. We must not lose sight of this calling as new challenges await that we must overcome and conquer.
As I begin my 34th year of civil practice, I ask: In the microcosm of the world of which I have been a part, have my efforts made a difference? Looking into the mirror, I can only say, I hope so. We lawyers have been given much, and much more is expected of us along the way.
Thank you for your support, and I look forward to the honor of serving you in this year ahead and hope to utilize your talents as part of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association and the mission we all share.