Dedication to Improvement of Quality of Justice

This is ninth in a series of posts highlighting my experience in each of the ten factors in evaluating a judicial candidate, as suggested by C. Dale McClain, a former President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association in a 2009 blog post:

1. Legal ability. 

2. Trial or other similar experience that ensures knowledge of the law and courtroom procedures.

3. A record and reputation for excellent character and integrity. 

4. Financial responsibility. 

5. Judicial temperament. 

6. Mental and physical capacity to fulfill the duties of judicial office. 

7. Record of community involvement. 

8. Administrative ability. 

9. Devotion to improvement of the quality of justice. 

10. Demonstrated sound judgment in professional life. 

McClain's ninth factor is devotion to improvement of the quality of justice, and here's how he describes it:

9. Devotion to improvement of the quality of justice. A candidate should participate in proposing and supporting ways to improve or preserve the legal system through active membership in local, state and national professional associations such as bar associations.


I was active in the Minnesota State Bar Association and the Hennepin County Bar Associations right after law school, and became active in the Indiana State Bar Association on my return to Indiana in 1999. I've been active on the Monroe County Bench Bar Committee since 2010, helping to plan the annual conference of judges and lawyers throughout the county.  I'm proud to say that the Monroe County Bench Bar Conference draws attorneys from throughout our region and not only provides excellent continuing legal education, but also provides funds for our District 10 Pro Bono Project (which helps find volunteer attorneys for low income people).  

Since joining our local bar, I've spear-headed innovations such as moving our membership management online, which allows us to track dues and activities much more easily, as well as allowing individual members to create their own profiles so that members of the public can use the site to find an attorney.  I've also been active in helping to start sections, where those who practice in a particular area can get together on a semi-regular basis to talk shop.  

I'm also proud to be an active member of the Indiana Chapter and the National organization for the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), a groups of therapists, lawyers, and judges who come together to share training and research on evidence-based practices in the family law field.  I've been able to attend conferences with advanced training on everything from finding best interests where teens are concerned, to how to create a family law drug court.  

I am a member of the Bloomington Association of Collaborative Professionals, Inc. (BACP), which joins mental health professionals, financial professionals, and attorneys together in a team approach to practicing family law--outside the courtroom.  I'm very proud that BACP is growing and is one of the few Indiana practice groups outside of the Indy area.  

Our local judges have long been leaders in Indiana.  It's critical that our judges continue to serve in this role.  I'm dedicated to continuing a life-long practice of learning about the law, helping to improve the practice of law, improving access to justice for all, and innovating in how justice is administered.  



Catherine Stafford