Ed DeLaney has been a husband to Ann and a father to Kathleen for many years. But his role as a partner in their legal practice presents an opportunity to bond with them professionally.
Ed left Barnes & Thornburg LLP in early 2004 after spending 30 years at what is now the largest law firm in the state. In 1973, when Ed arrived at what was then Barnes Hickam Pantzer & Boyd, the firm employed roughly 40 lawyers. Today, it boasts 400.
By contrast, DeLaney & DeLaney LLC has five attorneys and two, including Ed, are new arrivals. Following a year partially spent traveling abroad and getting a pilot’s license-a desire that had escaped him while he juggled a hefty caseload-Ed returned this month to practicing law.
Mike McConnell, a director of business development at local staffing agency The Morley Group who places lawyers at firms, said DeLaney’s move bucks a trend in which most older lawyers remain at their firms in a less strenuous, ofcounsel capacity.
“That is unusual to go to a small firm like that,” McConnell said, “although with most lawyers, you have to carry them out with their boots on.”
A fondness for mentoring young associates and providing advice to clients lured Ed back to the legal community, he said. The fact that DeLaney & DeLaney, founded three years ago by Kathleen and Ann DeLaney, is on solid footing also helped sway his decision. He was reluctant to join too soon, choosing instead to let his daughter, who serves as managing partner, lead the firm without his assistance-or interference.
The arrangement has produced some good-natured ribbing from colleagues, however.
“People want to kid me that I’m working for my wife and daughter,” Ed said. “I tell them I’ve been doing that for a long time. That’s nothing new.”
In seriousness, though, Ed noted he brings experience and name recognition that should aid the firm’s growth. The partners say they can build the firm to 10 to 12 lawyers and still be comfortable at the historic building they bought and renovated on Washington Boulevard near 38th Street. They recently moved the practice from its Capital Center location downtown.
The thriving civil litigation practice already has grown faster than Ann or Kathleen had envisioned, the two said. But with Ann’s hectic schedule, in which she splits time as executive director of The Julian Center women’s shelter and as a federal bankruptcy trustee, any additional leadership Ed can provide is welcome.
Kathleen spent roughly four years at Ice Miller before opting to hang out her own shingle. Associate Cindy Bedrick spent three years at McTurnan & Turner before joining the DeLaneys earlier this month. Fellow associate Michele Lofthouse came aboard last year from law school.
Although Lofthouse has no other experience by which to judge her job, she said working for a family-operated practice has its advantages.
“They understand family needs,” she said, “and they’re going to understand if I need to take time off.”
Lofthouse also said it’s refreshing to see how candid the trio are with one another. The DeLaneys caution that it’s necessary to draw boundaries between work and family life. Discussing legal matters outside the office, for instance, is prohibited.
Ed and Ann, both New York natives from opposite ends of the state, met while attending The State University of New York at Binghamton. Ed later joined the Navy and studied to be a Russian linguist. He was named Best Language Student at the Navy’s Defense Language Institute, for which he received a watch that he still has. His degree from Harvard Law School came in 1973 and he soon had a job at the Barnes firm. Ann, meanwhile, attended the Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington, graduating in 1977.
Ann served as a deputy prosecutor in Marion County and became heavily involved in politics. She was a candidate for lieutenant governor in 1984 and later chaired the Indiana Democratic Party. She also was campaign manager and spokeswoman for former Gov. Evan Bayh during his re-election campaign in 1992.
Ed’s transition from the state’s largest firm to a small firm led by his daughter and wife could be daunting. Barnes & Thornburg’s managing partner, Alan Levin, thinks DeLaney will adapt just fine.
“I think he’s looking forward to practicing with his wife, but more with Kathleen, who is more engaged in the practice,” Levin said. “Ed’s very closely oriented to his family. He’ll be a great asset for the firm.”
While Barnes & Thornburg has lost one DeLaney, it’s about to gain another. The DeLaneys’ youngest child, Tim, is set to be a summer associate at the firm this year.
Ed DeLaney, who recently retired from Barnes and Thornburg, has joined DeLaney & DeLaney, the law firm headed by his daughter, Kathleen, center, and wife Ann, left.