Falk Calls Law 'An Extremely Human Endeavor'
by Richard Paige
April 18, 2016
With a career spent defending individual liberties, perhaps it wasn’t surprising that Kenneth Falk, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, described the Bill of Rights as being like poetry during the keynote address Monday at the David W. Peck Lecture and Awards Banquet, the Wabash College Prelaw Society’s annual honors program.
Falk’s lecture, “The Law as a Shield and a Sword – An Advocate’s Perspective” touched on both his advocacy for civil liberties and passion for civility.
“Our society is set up to need lawyers,” said Falk, who received the Senior Peck Medal for Eminence in the Law. “The law is an extremely human endeavor and I provide access to people who have none. The Bill of Rights is free flowing, it’s like poetry. It is a call to action to make sure rights don’t disappear. Every right is precious and must be fought for.”
Falk spent 19 years at the Legal Services Organization of Indiana, serving those unable to pay for needed legal services, and eventually becoming the Director of Litigation. For the last two decades he has served the ACLU in Indiana.
In a 40-minute speech that was equal parts humor and insight and covered topics from baseball to the Supreme Court, Falk’s passion for the position was not lost on the audience.
“The law is an organic entity to protect, to defend, and to push. It is invisibly pulsating around us at all times,” he said. “There is virtue and necessity in fighting for the Bill of Rights. If we don’t fight for everyone’s rights, then they can disappear.”
In speaking to the pre-law students in attendance, Falk said that maintaining perspective is essential to a being a good lawyer.
“What you do is vitally important,” Falk said. “It holds society together. Keep your perspective; this isn’t war. We are in court to resolve conflicts. The minute you lose perspective, you lose effectiveness. Perspective the most important thing we have.”
In a funny, spirited, and heartfelt five minutes, Falk was introduced this evening by Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher ’91. Despite often being on opposite sides of the courtroom, the duo did share a common goal and mutual respect for one another.
“Ken and I have often been on opposite sides of hot button legal issues, but I can say that we share a commitment to civility,” said Fisher. “Ken Falk is widely respected by lawyers of all stripes. He is legendary and has set high standards for all Indiana lawyers to achieve.”
Prelaw society award winners were announced as follows:
Joseph J. Daniels Award in Constitutional Law: Derek Andre ’16 and Brady Quackenbush ‘18
Irwin-Garrard Prize: Josh Bleisch ‘16
William Nelson White Scholarship Award: Dylan Miller ‘16
James E. Bingham Award: Derek Andre ’16 and Adam Alexander ‘16
Junior Peck Medal: Matthew Binder ‘16
Senior Peck Medal: Kenneth Falk, Legal Director, ACLU of Indiana