Roderick H. Morgan, a partner at Bingham McHale law firm has recently been named president of the Indiana State Bar Association.
His prestigious positions evoke ideas of a formal, earnest man, but upon meeting him, you’ll discover he’s a very relatable and jovial individual whose heart is firmly set on making a difference.
Blazing his own trail, Morgan took a more nontraditional route to becoming a lawyer. He began his journey in the United States Army. Once he completed his five-year obligation to United States Military Academy at West Point, in which he was the 23rd African-American to graduate. Upon graduation he decided to practice law.
“I wanted to help people, but when you ‘help people’ you tend to take away their options, and I don’t like that. I thought I could provide some service to people and being a lawyer really fit with my personality,” said Morgan.
In his late 20s, Morgan was admitted into Georgetown University Law Center and graduated in 1978.
The Indianapolis native has over 29 years of legal experience as a litigator in criminal, civil and administrative matters. For the last 16 years his practice has involved representing state and local governmental units as bond, underwriter and issuer counsel on tax-exempt and taxable bond issues.
He has also co-authored several textbooks and publications on constitutional, administrative and business law. In his current position at Bingham McHale, Morgan is the firm’s diversified business solutions team and a member of the business services advisory department and the governmental services department.
Although Morgan has had a long-standing career as an attorney, he states what keeps him motivated to continue is his desire to constantly learn new things, love for leadership, respect for those who came before him and the thrill of “closing the deal.” Living in a single parent home also enhanced his work ethic.
“I’m competitive,” laughs Morgan. “Compassion, confidence, professionalism and diligence – those are the things that make a good lawyer. You need to care about your client and their families. You’ve got to get beyond the paper and not take anything personal.”
Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, also a member of the Indiana State Bar Association, believes it’s Morgan’s drive, community involvement and personality that led him to become the Indiana State Bar Association’s first Black president. The association has been in existence for 113 years and represents over 12,000 attorneys across the state.
The association acts as a networking and idea-generating springboard for Hoosier lawyers who gather to discuss legislation that affects citizens.
Walton Pratt also affirms that Morgan’s appointment as the first Black president is not only significant, but marks the beginning of change for Indiana counselors.
“When this organization began, African-American attorneys could not have membership in this association – even in the 1950s my father couldn’t be a member. It’s a wonderful thing that this strong organization has finally elected an African-American as its leader. There’s something significant about Rod Morgan,” said she.
While being the first African-American in an establishment is a tremendous accomplishment for Morgan, he simply wants to use his tenure to provide support for existing lawyers and assist up -and-coming lawyers. He also wants to make the bar more relevant to young lawyers and knock down generational barriers.
One of his first orders of business, however, is to diversify the association in various avenues and make it more inclusive.
“I just can’t see getting up in the morning and say ‘I’m only going to do half of what I’m capable of doing today.’ Why get up,” asks Morgan. “I want to represent the lawyers of Indiana the best way that I can.”
For more information on the Indiana State Bar Association, call (317) 639-5465 or visit www.inbar.org.