- W. George Pinnell Award for Outstanding Service (2013)
When new law students begin their studies at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, they are introduced to key attributes of valued attorneys, including professionalism, ethical conduct, pro bono work, and giving back to the community. Should they seek a role model possessing those attributes, they need look no further than to Joel Schumm. Gary Roberts, dean of the law school, writes in a letter supporting Schumm’s nomination for the W. George Pinnell Award, “We cannot imagine anyone who emulates these attributes more than Joel Schumm. His volunteer efforts are widely diverse and have touched lawyers and citizens in Indianapolis and far beyond. He has also dedicated countless hours of service to the law school and its students.” Schumm graduated from the law school magna cum laude and joined the law school faculty after spending three years in judicial clerkships, first with the Honorable Theodore R. Boehm of the Indiana Supreme Court and then with the Honorable Paul D. Mathias of the Indiana Court of Appeals.
Schumm has become actively involved with the bench, the bar, and the legal writing community. He has been described as a one-man resource center, and his approachability and availability to assist others is said to be “nothing short of amazing.” “If there is a law professor who has done more to serve the public at large than Joel Schumm, I have yet to meet him or her,” says Norman L. Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “With unparalleled generosity, Professor Schumm has brought his insight and expertise as a faculty member to real-world projects that directly benefit the justice system and larger community.” Schumm has developed highly effective partnerships in Indianapolis and nationally. Examples of his work that have had national impact include serving as a team leader of the American Bar Association’s Indiana Assessment of the Death Penalty and playing a pivotal role in three National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers projects of profound importance for accused persons and the lawyers who represent them.
Schumm has represented more than 100 indigent defendants on appeal, either individually or as part of the Appellate Clinic, which he created at the law school in 2008. He also directs the law school’s Judicial Externship Program, which places approximately 80 students each year with state and federal judges in trial and appellate courts in central Indiana and beyond. His commitment to students is described as unparalleled, and his contributions to law school committees, which conduct much of the school’s important business, is termed “enormous,” as he has served as both a member and chair of nearly every committee. Since graduation from law school, Schumm has been actively involved in efforts to improve laws, to improve the profession, and to improve an individual’s ability to be treated fairly within the legal system, Roberts writes. “His overriding philosophy is that by helping all those involved in the legal system, our notion of justice will be better served.”