Indiana Legal Profession Marks 25 Years of ICLEO

Former Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard speaks during a 25th anniversary celebration of the Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity program. Shepard is credited as the creator of ICLEO. (IL Photo/Jordan Morey)

Addressing a crowd of attorneys, judges, judges, law professors and students inside the North Atrium of the Indiana Statehouse, Chasity Thompson Osborn told those in attendance that the celebration of the night was “really like a family reunion”.

On Thursday, dozens of Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity Scholars from the past quarter century gathered in Indianapolis to celebrate the program’s 25th anniversary.

Thompson Osborn, Director of Lawyer Learning and Development at Taft Stettinius & Hollister and 1999 ICLEO Scholar, moderated the event.

The ICLEO program was established in 1997 to help Indiana’s minority, low-income, and educationally disadvantaged students pursue law studies and careers in the Indiana legal community. Pursuant to Indiana Code § 33-24-13-7, $625,000 is appropriated each fiscal year to ICLEO from the state’s general fund through the Indiana Supreme Court.

Each summer, students have an intense residential preparatory experience through ICLEO that is designed to help them through law school and, in turn, increase diversity in Indiana’s legal community. Participants are immersed in the first-year law school curriculum and skills courses designed to closely simulate the law school experience.

Participants who successfully complete the ICLEO Summer Institute and then enroll at an American Bar Association-accredited Indiana law school during the fall semester are certified as ICLEO Scholars and receive a scholarship of $4,800 each semester for up to three years, up to a maximum of $28,800 to offset tuition.

After Thompson Osborn’s introduction, Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush made the remarks, sharing that approximately $20 million – funding provided by the Indiana Legislature – was spent on the ICLEO program. over the past 25 years.

Since its inception, Rush said, there have been about 670 ICLEO Fellows. She told the story of a fourth grade girl who dressed up as Rush for Career Day a few years ago, and the importance of diversity to help build public confidence in the profession. legal.

Rush said there are currently about 1,600 attorneys of color in Indiana, up from about 1,200 five years ago. The Chief Justice encouraged those in attendance to help mentor the next generation of lawyers and encourage them to apply for the program.

“My hope is that ICLEO continues to grow and grow and grow and one day we won’t need ICLEO anymore because we’re here, (we’ve) achieved all of these goals,” Rush said. “…It just becomes part of the fabric of our profession that we just have a nice diversity.”

During the presentations, Charise Frazier, Hall Render shareholder and ICLEO Fellow in 1997, spoke about her time in the program and its impact on her life since.

“Being part of that first class was fun and we had a lot of great times in Bloomington,” Frazier said, referring to the Indiana University Maurer Law School Summer Institute in Bloomington. . “We were getting to know each other, we were learning the law, and I really came out of that summer institute with an amazing group of colleagues and several lifelong friends, even friends who are at my wedding.

“… Years and years later, we practice together, live our lives, expand our families and all that good stuff,” she continued. “I’m so excited that the program continues to be very strong.”

Former Chief Justice Randall Shepard, who urged the Indiana Legislature to create the ICLEO program while on the bench, including during his 1997 Speech on the state of the judiciaryalso provided comments.

Shepard explained how the idea for ICLEO began after the elimination of a federal program that had provided financial support for law students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The former chief justice recalled how then-Senate Pro Tempore Speaker Robert D. Garton allowed a vote on the bill, drafted by Reps. Jesse Villalpando and Earl Hams, after the deadline 8 p.m. on the last day of the legislative session. According to Shepard, the bill passed the Indiana House 91-7 and the Senate 49-0 before Governor Frank O’Bannon signed it.

“One of the things that I find particularly exciting … is where ICLEO fellows have found legal careers,” Shepard said. “It’s breathtaking. There are people who practice alone, there are public defenders, there are deans of law, there are assistant attorneys, there are people who become partners in large law firms. …(I)it’s just an incredible variety of ways that ICLEO Fellows have continued to be part of this profession.

Learn more about ICLEO 25e anniversary in the next issue of Indiana Lawyer and listen to a one-on-one interview with Judge Randall Shepard on Wednesday’s episode of the Indiana Lawyer Podcast.

Jon J. Epps