2014 Forty Under 40: Edward Thomas

Lou Harry
February 1, 2014
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thomas_edward_1col.jpg (IBJ Photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Military intelligence: “Most people with advanced degrees go in as officers,” said Thomas, who rose to sergeant in the U.S. Army. “I came in as an enlisted person and it allowed me to connect with people—to try to see things from other perspectives. I believe that’s been one of the keys to my success thus far: The simple fact of being able to identify with people, not feeling as though you are any better than anyone else. It works in my practice and in everyday life.”

Decision making: While serving in Bosnia, Thomas worked as a paralegal in the Judge Advocate Corp. “They wanted to send me to law school and have me stay on board with the military,” he said. “At that point, though, we had one kid and I didn’t want to travel as much, so we made the decision to go out and take the traditional route to a law degree.”

Work/study: As a civilian, he earned a degree from Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis by taking night classes and working during the day. “I’m on the recruiting committee [at Lewis Wagner] and when we do interviews, you can certainly tell when a student has had some work life experience, and that’s always a plus.”

AGE 39
Hometown: Gary

Family: wife, Clamita; children Imani,12, Edward Jr., 8, and Isis, 2

First case scenario: Thomas’ first case as a practicing attorney was a standard slip-and-fall. “I remember it vividly,” he said, “although it wasn’t anything really complex.” The opportunity to work with founding partner Robert Wagner, though, was invaluable. “He taught me everything I didn’t learn in law school.”

Mentoring: “I’m always over at the law school,” he said. “I’m friends with a few of the deans and they’re always sending students my way.” Thomas takes them to lunch, gives them his “life after law school” pitch, and helps them with career-building strategies. “It’s something I love to do.” He’s also proud of his work on the finance committee of the YMCA, including helping get a new facility built at Avondale Meadows.•


  • Dear Debon
    This is the best news of the year thus far, I'm so excited for all you've accomplished in your life. One of the greatest gifts in life is to see your children succeed . You're making your uncle a proud man. Keep your positive intelligent persona forever. Sincerely Uncle Terry
  • Overcoming Obstacles
    Congratulations goes to Mr. Thomas!! In knowing all the adversities we faced growing up in Gary and still pushing forward toward the higher calling on your life is definitely a Success Story all from "The Region" should share and embrace!! Class of '92 Stand Up!!!

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.