Deborah K. Hepler ‘94 Honored as 2005 Outstanding Alumna of the Year
Deborah K. Hepler, ‘94 became the sixth graduate of the law school to receive the Outstanding Alumna of the Year award. She was honored at the annual Alumnae Network luncheon which took place Friday, April 8th at the Westin in downtown Indianapolis. Hepler, a summa cum laude graduate of the law school, is currently an attorney with Locke Reynolds, practicing in the areas of labor and employment, healthcare and intellectual property. Prior to joining Locke Reynolds, she served seven years as a law clerk in both state and federal courts. She is also one of the founders of the Protective Order Pro Bono Project of Greater Indianapolis (POPBP), and serves as president of its board. The POPBP trains attorneys, law students and paralegals to work as teams to provide free legal services to victims of domestic violence or abuse.
The Honorable Larry J. McKinney (pictured with Helpler), Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, gave a tribute to Hepler, who served as his judicial law clerk for six years. Judge McKinney spoke of her “great integrity, persuasiveness, and perseverance.” He affirmed that as a result of Hepler’s excellent work, free, compassionate advocacy in the court room for victims of domestic violence is now a reality in this community. On a lighter note, Judge McKinney suggested that one must think of Hepler as “a virus—because being in her presence for any extended period of time may result in your being infected by the same concerns that are troubling her.” According to Judge McKinney, “Your money, nights, and your weekends might be taken up in her causes. She has, after all, been responsible for an epizootic of caring among lawyers.”
Hepler’s practice is focused on helping employers of all sizes create workplaces where employees feel safe and valued. She is a frequent speaker on the subject of workplace violence, employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation, drug testing, wage and hour laws, and on a variety of other employment issues. Workplace violence is an area of particular concern to her, and relates to her extensive pro bono work. In addition to the POPBP, Hepler is on the board of directors of Indiana Legal Services, Inc. and is a member of the Pro Bono Standing Committee of the Indianapolis Bar Association. She belongs to the Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis, Inc.’s Employers Group and the Human Resources Association of Central Indiana, and the Indiana HIPAA Workgroup.
After receiving the Alumna of the Year award, Hepler spoke of the importance of service to the community. She shared one of her favorite quotations by Shirley Chisholm: “Service is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Hepler encouraged everyone, but especially attorneys, to use their skills in the areas of research, analysis, and persuasion and commit to solving problems. She closed with the challenge to “look around you. Find out what needs fixing. If it needs fixing, you can do it.”