Attorneys Recognized for Public Service, Pro Bono Efforts
President's Awards Made to Two for Service and Philanthropy
INDIANAPOLIS - Wyatt Tarrant & Combs, LLP, and Timothy J. Abeska, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, were recognized for their dedication to helping Hoosiers in time of need by J. Mark Robinson, president of the Indiana Bar Foundation, October 26. The Wyatt firm and Abeska were awarded the President's Award, the highest honor the organization can bestow on its members.
Robinson noted the exceptional contributions of both honorees to aid fellow Hoosiers in his speech to delegates at the Indiana State Bar Association’s annual meeting. Attorneys from Wyatt Tarrant & Combs’, Louisville and New Albany offices partnered with the ISBA and Indiana Legal Services’ New Albany office to provide legal assistance and advice to Hoosiers affected by the March 2, 2012, tornadoes that affected the Southern Indiana area just north of Louisville. The firm answered inquiries from an emergency service set up by the ISBA to help. One caller was the grandmother of a family of five, all of whom died in the tornado or from injuries sustained. The volunteers investigated misappropriated donations; handled an estate; battled a ‘price-gouging’ air ambulance service; answered real estate questions; reviewed a FEMA application; argued insurance coverage disputes; and counseled clients about various other contract issues. Wyatt attorneys and paralegals donated almost 79 hours -valued at the equivalent of $21,331.00 of their billable time. John Woodard performed 43 hours of service, paralegal Connie Bueter donated 22.75 and attorneys Gary Banet, Jason Lopp, and Jeff Wallace accounted for the remainder.
“It felt good to help,” said John Woodard. “We were rewarded by many heartfelt ‘thank you’s’ from the people we served.”
Indiana Bar Foundation president J. Mark Robinson, New Albany, said, “Lawyers frequently help their local communities. This was an exceptional effort at a very difficult time for many folks in Southern Indiana. Wyatt Tarrant & Combs, LLP really stepped up to help their neighbors in need.”
The second award was presented to Timothy J. Abeska, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, South Bend office. Abeska generously was the largest donor to the Richard M. Givan Loan Repayment Assistance Program at more than $33,000. His donations doubled to $66,000 with a matching donation from the Indiana Supreme Court.
According to Abeska: “The LRAP allows lawyers who are burdened with student loan debt to more affordably handle it, and focus on their work that benefits the disadvantaged citizens among us. It helps countless people across the state.” Abeska also donates to Indiana Legal Services and continues to contribute to his local pro bono district. In addition, he solicited his colleagues to contribute to the LRAP and has continued to advocate for it and other Bar Foundation programs in other venues.
“I have an obligation to give back to the profession. The LRAP is one good way to give back,” he said.
“Tim Abeska is an outstanding attorney who obviously cares deeply about legal services for the poor,” said Mark Robinson. “His action will help thousands of Hoosiers for many years in multiple communities around the state.”
The award presentation occurred during the ISBA’s annual meeting in Robinson’s report to the House of Delegates.