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2014 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Kathy Osborn

October 31, 2014

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Cessna Aircraft. Citizens Energy Group. Dow AgroSciences. JPMorgan Chase. Kerasotes Theatres. Marsh Supermarkets. Weaver Popcorn.

A common denominator for these diverse companies? They’ve all been represented by Kathy Osborn.

“Never in a million years would I have guessed I’d be an antitrust attorney,” said Osborn, a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels and co-chair of its thriving antitrust and trade regulation practice group. “I didn’t even take an antitrust class in law school.”

But Osborn has a history of finding a calling rather than chasing one. In college, she had no thought about becoming a lawyer. With undergraduate degrees in biology and religion from Indiana University, she worked 11 years for Indiana University’s Institute on Disability and Community and also served on the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Commission and as a board president for the Indiana Association for Persons in Supported Employment.

Eventually, she went to law school part time.

“Holding down a full-time job while going to law school changed my experience,” she said. “I didn’t have the law school experience where you build relationships with a lot of different people and have their support when you enter the legal world.”

After earning her law degree from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, she found support clerking at the Indiana Supreme Court. Credit for her clerkship helped put her on a faster track to partnership at Faegre.

“My track was relatively smooth, as those things go,” she said. “It helps that I was somewhat older—I was 36 when I started here, which put me about 10 years older than my peers. I had a lot of business and client-contact experience. And I don’t think I got as stressed as some of my peers if they thought a partner wasn’t satisfied with their work.”

Her first antitrust case lit the spark. “Every case is different and usually revolves around a product. I now know about movie distribution and eggs and cathode ray tubes and other products, some of which I never even knew existed. I like that.”

Osborn also held onto the desire to serve the less fortunate and appreciates the way Faegre encouraged her to do pro bono work. Her efforts have largely focused on supporting people with disabilities and families and organizations that support them.

As such, she earned the Indianapolis Bar Association’s 2011 Pro Bono Award for Attorney Aiding Individuals for a victory in a case regarding a man with mental health disabilities.

A volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters for more than a decade (and recipient of a Big Sister of the Year award), Osborn presided over the board of the Young Job Preparedness Program and was a board member with Day Nursery Association of Indianapolis.

Osborn herself has tried her hand at product development. She was selected by Whirlpool for a 2006 Mother of Invention Award for two pending patents for her idea to interface baby mobiles with media sources such as iPods.

The idea came to her when she was home on maternity leave. Her baby would just about fall asleep and the crib mobile would stop playing music and he’d wake up when she tried to wind it. Eight years later, the patents are still being processed. “I am personally accustomed to the slow pace of justice,” she said.•

To read other Women of Influence profiles, please click here.

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