Top Lawyers: Profiles
Five portraits of legal practice in Fort Wayne
We weren’t surprised to learn how smart Fort Wayne’s Top Lawyers are or how accomplished. It wasn’t astonishing to learn that they care about their clients and about the community they live in. It was, however, a refreshing near-surprise to be told time and again how clearly they understand that people usually do not want to hire them. And that’s only logical. We need a lawyer when we have a problem, usually a big, complicated one.
That hard fact is why it is important that Fort Wayne Magazine is presenting this annual Top Lawyers list. It’s a tool to help people select a lawyer if they should ever be face-to-face with one of those big, complicated problems.
Happily, it’s also an opportunity to meet five fascinating human beings who happen to practice law in the city we all call home. Fort Wayne Magazine is proud to introduce these Top Lawyers to everyone who has not yet had the privilege of meeting them.
A caring, family tradition
Cornelius “Neil” B. Hayes comes from a long line of Fort Wayne attorneys. His grandfather, C. Byron Hayes, was the Allen County Prosecuting Attorney in the 1930s, and his father, J. Byron Hayes, was a federal prosecutor and also Allen County Prosecutor, and his son, Byron, is also an attorney.
The Hayes family came to Allen County in 1870 and soon opened the Hayes Hotel, which was located on Calhoun Street, adjacent to the railroad stop at Baker Street. A picture of his forebears standing proudly in front of their hotel graces his office, which is a cozy stop above Calhoun Street. His office, where his rescue dog Lucy hangs out near his feet, is filled with family photographs, and soft, classical music plays. Which is a good thing, as people come to Hayes at one of the lowest points of their lives: when their marriages have broken down. Hayes specializes in matrimonial law, primarily handling divorces in which there are substantial assets that must be divided.
But ending a marriage is the last thing Hayes wants for his clients. He often calls upon mediation between fighting spouses, in an attempt to either reclaim the marriage or to reach an amicable settlement. He said he believes he was called to help people through their most painful times.
“People are so burdened when they come to a divorce lawyer; they don’t understand the system,” he said. “If you take the time to understand your client,” you find out how you can best resolve their dilemmas.
“You have to help your client through the valley of the shadow of death,” he said. “Love is the cornerstone of everything, and when love breaks down,” it’s so difficult for families to recover.
Hayes often refers clients to people in the community or region that he believes can help with mediation, something he said wasn’t even invented when he started practicing 35 years ago.
“The people I represent are pretty smart people,” he said. “They’re smart enough to recognize … they should go see that” mediator.
Hayes was, in the family tradition, a deputy prosecutor many years ago, and he described the courtroom as “the last place you want to take your client.” He believes fervently in the power of mediation and negotiation as the best ways to resolve an acrimonious divorce.
Hayes graduated from the Indiana University-Bloomington School of Business and received his J.D. from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich. He is a fellow with the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and is a Certified Family Law Specialist, sits on the Board of the Indiana State Bar Association’s Family Law Certification Board and is a board member of the Fort Wayne/Allen County Airport Authority.
Intrigued by law’s intricacies
Learning the intricacies of business law is daunting to the layperson, but for attorney Susan Trent, those intricacies intrigue her.
“You have to know lots of laws,” Trent said. “It’s always evolving.”
Trent represents creditors during a business’s bankruptcy or reorganization and is a partner with the firm of Rothberg, Logan, Warsco of Fort Wayne. She also represents business clients in regulatory and compliance matters. She said she feels like she’s making a difference in her clients’ business lives.
“I get to know them; I get to know their goals,” she said. “By the time a case gets to me, the idea is (that) there is a solution. The idea is (to) reorganize a business. You try to make lemonade out of (bankruptcy) lemons.”
A member of the editorial board of the American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, Trent has to keep up with the ever-changing federal bankruptcy codes.
“The bankruptcy code is a fairly complex group of statutes, and there are what I could call ‘gaps’ throughout the code,” she said. “There could be gaps in procedures, in the text, in the definition of terms” where there could be multiple interpretations.
A native of Connecticut, Trent moved to Indiana as a third-grader. She graduated summa cum laude from Indiana University in Bloomington before graduating from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s law school. She’s married to Thomas Trent, and the couple has two children.
Trent’s work isn’t limited to her business representation. A Leadership Fort Wayne graduate, she is on the board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northern Indiana, where she is a past president. Working at that charity “helps to keep life in perspective,” she noted, and she’s also considering other volunteer opportunities.
“I am a naturally curious person,” Trent said. “I’ve liked everything I’ve tried. Nothing makes me bored.”
Curiosity is one key trait any good attorney should have, she noted, adding that being self-assured, confident, poised, hard-working, ethical and assertive also help any legal practitioner.
“You need to be intellectually humble, team-oriented and someone a little transformational in their thinking,” she said. “You have to really get to know your client, really understand their priorities. You have to help them identify … what they can control.
“You have to understand that a difference of opinion isn’t necessarily about you.”
That said, “In my opinion, a lawyer-leader is neither very effective nor respected over a career if they are little more than blustery, bullying, obstructionist and belligerent.”
Making things right on appeal
If there’s one thing Cathleen Shrader loves, it’s finding mistakes in trial transcripts. Which is a good thing, as she is an appellate lawyer with Barrett & McNagny, working on appeals of cases decided against clients in lower courts.
“We are a boisterous group here on the litigation floor,” she said. “I like that you are focusing on the law. You don’t have to be distracted by the ins and outs of litigation.”
Appellate attorneys scrutinize trial records to see if there’s a basis for appeals because of factual errors or legal mistakes to be reviewed by a higher court. Shrader has been involved in any number of high-profile cases over her career, and she’s earned top marks from various attorney rankings. She’s admitted to practice in Indiana state courts, the United States Supreme Court, United States Courts of Appeal for the Seventh and Eleventh Circuits, and the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana and the Western District of Michigan.
Arguing cases in front of the five justices of the Indiana Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeal is “challenging.
“It keeps you on your toes,” she said. “It’s the most fun you can have as a lawyer.”
Such cases are “probably the most prestigious thing a lawyer could do,” Shrader added.
She says that she also enjoys litigation as another aspect of her practice, working generally with businesses, estates and trusts.
“Litigation is really interesting,” she said. “The subject matter can be as varied as your imagination.”
Shrader is also very involved with the Indiana Supreme Court Board of Law Examiners, where she serves as a board member and secretary, and as a member of the board of directors of the Indiana Debate Commission, where she serves as chair of the executive committee.
Most important to Shrader, however, is the relationship and trust she builds with her clients.
“People come to us with tremendous problems,” she said. “You have to remember that this particular issue is everything to that client. No one wants to have to hire me. When you do litigation, you’re like the oncologist of the legal profession” – someone no one wants to see, but who patients hope is the very best.
Filling a need, feeding an interest
Count Shannon Reed as another win in Indiana’s “brain gain” column. The native of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, has settled in Fort Wayne and is now a partner with Faegre Baker Daniels, specializing in health care-related issues.
But we nearly didn’t get her. It was the excellent outreach from Valparaiso University that convinced her to stay in the Midwest over heading to the East Coast.
“It was just such a welcoming atmosphere and attitude,” Reed said of her experiences at Valparaiso University School of Law. “I knew I wanted to stay in Indiana” after receiving her J.D.
She was hired at Faegre Baker Daniels and began working at the firm’s downtown offices in September 2000. She said she decided to focus her practice on health-care related issues after participating in a health-care competition through moot court in law school. And, she said, to fill a need.
“There was a need for an associate practicing in the health care arena,” she said. “Health care is a lot different than any of the law classes that I took at school.
“It’s been a great fit.”
Generally, Reed represents health care providers and organizations in the areas of regulation, fraud and abuse, compliance, privacy, licensing and general operations.
“The health care industry is always evolving and changing,” Reed said. “It’s never boring. There are so many different laws and rules and regulations that you have to make sure providers are complying with. You want to be on the forefront of compliance.”
The recent changes in health care due to the Affordable Care Act have affected her clients. “It’s certainly something my clients have had to understand and … weave their way through like any other health care law.”
Reed said she was always interested in the law. “I certainly have those clients I’ve really enjoyed working with. I’ve really enjoyed those times where I feel I have helped someone (or done) something that’s really helped someone.”
Reed says she has always wanted to be a lawyer.
“The law is so expansive and touches on so many different areas,” Reed said.
Reed is married to Fort Wayne native Rob Rudolph, a chemist, and the couple has three sons.
A reason to come to work each day
Personal injury lawyers sometimes get a bad rap as “ambulance chasers,” but for attorney Nathaniel Hubley, helping people who’ve been injured is a calling. The Huntington native works with clients from across the region in the areas of personal injury, workers compensation and employment litigation.
“I pretty much felt called” to practice law, he said. “The ultimate goal is to get both parties to compromise. It takes some finessing.”
Hubley attended Huntington University before graduating from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (where he served as the student body vice president) with a major in philosophy and a minor in history. He graduated from Valparaiso’s law school in 2009, where he was on the executive board of the Valparaiso Law Review. Upon graduation, he was courted by several law firms and chose to return to Fort Wayne, where he has family. His wife, Christina, is also an attorney. The couple has one son, Nicholas, and the family is expecting another child this spring, which, no doubt, will make the family’s three Corgi dogs even more excitable, he said.
Hubley was awarded the Governor’s Award for Tomorrow’s Leaders in 2006 for his community involvement, entrepreneurship and academic accomplishments. A member of the Indiana Bar Association and the Allen County Bar Association, Hubley serves on the Allen County Bar Association’s Grievance Committee, Public Relations Committee and Fee Dispute Committee. Additionally, he does pro bono work for The Volunteer Lawyer Program of Northeast Indiana. Hubley said he also volunteers for the Allen County Bar Association’s Legal Line. In addition to these involvements, Hubley is a board member of the IPFW College of Arts and Sciences Community Advisory Board, he said.
Representing people who have been injured – either physically or through unfair labor practices – is what makes Hubley put on a suit and come to work each day.
“They need help,” he said. “They are in dire situations. I guide them … and I provide them with hope. (For) a lot of these people, it’s life-altering stuff. No one goes to a lawyer under good circumstances. My goal is to educate them as much as possible.”
First appeared in the April 2015 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.