I earned my Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Indiana University School of Law – Bloomington, in 1975. I was admitted to practice law by the Supreme Court of Indiana that same year and I have maintained my “Good Standing” ever since.
In 1975, I was also admitted to practice law before the United States District Courts for both the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana. Later, I was admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and in 1979 I was admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court.
After the Indiana Supreme Court adopted rules for Alternate Dispute Resolution (resolving disagreements without trials), I trained and was certified a domestic relations mediator in 2000. I have maintained my certification for over 16 years.
I am an Elkhart native and graduated from Elkhart High School in 1970. In 1973, I became the first person in my family to graduate from college when I earned my bachelors degree, magna cum laude, from Indiana University South Bend. Two years later, I graduated from law school and returned home to practice.
I started my practice as an associate in the firm of Gildea & Stuart. As an associate, I “learned the ropes” in many areas of law, including: real estate law (before title insurance when lawyers examined abstracts of title), debt collection, criminal felony cases, traffic and misdemeanor cases, bankruptcy, personal injury cases, contracts, torts, Wills, estates and probate, divorce, paternity, child custody, support, adoption, litigation and appeals. I became a solo practitioner in 1984.
I believe that when a person employs a lawyer, he or she expects the lawyer to do the work and not farm it out to staff. I do my own interviews and client conferences; my own research; and I draft my own pleadings, briefs, and court filings. In short, I do the work my client hires me to do.
During all of my 40 plus years of practice, I have been a member of the Indiana State Bar Association. I served as president, vice-president, and secretary of the Elkhart City Bar Association. I have also been active in my church as a member of the Congregational Council, Assisting Minister, and a member of various committees.
As part of service to the community, I served 19 years as a Commissioner on the Elkhart City Plan Commission. I have also served in various capacities on the board of directors of several community service organizations, including 24 years on the board of directors of the Elkhart County Mental Health Association, President for 2 years; and I served as President of the Elkhart County Chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.