Transcript: LCA President Mike Ehrenstein Interviews Senior Fellow Greg



Michael Ehrenstein 00:00
Good day. My name is Mike Ehrenstein. I’m the current president of the Litigation Council of America, and I’m joined today by senior fellow Greg Hahn. And our topic today is about community involvement and philanthropy in our profession. 

Michael Ehrenstein 00:18
Let me give you a brief intro. When I say brief, I mean a really brief introduction of Greg. Because his his resume is so robust that we could spend 30 minutes just talking about all of his accomplishments. 

Michael Ehrenstein 00:33
I’m going to break it down into tiny into tiny pieces first. Greg is a partner at Bose, McKinney and Evans in Indianapolis. He is a renowned trial lawyer, and he concentrates his practice in corporate and business litigation. 

Michael Ehrenstein 00:53
He’s represented some of the biggest clients in some of the Gnarliest litigation you could possibly imagine, including Carl Ichan, bally gaming, hard rock casinos. He’s represented countries like Greece and Belize. 

Michael Ehrenstein 01:12
He’s represented states like Indiana and municipalities. And he’s represented all kinds of interesting characters, from Frank Zappa to George Steinbrenner. He has had a storied career so far. When somebody talks about great litigators, you’re not usually thinking in your mind of the sort of sweet soul who wants to sing Kumbaya with everybody, and instead you’re thinking about perhaps somebody who wants to throw down in a bare knuckle brawl. 

Michael Ehrenstein 01:56
But the more I get to know. Our fellows in the LCA. And the more great trial lawyers I meet, the more I realize and have learned that those who are the most persuasive and the most successful are also the ones who have the heart to actually truly care about their community and about others. 

Michael Ehrenstein 02:20
And Greg is the epitome of that. He is the great trial lawyer who, in addition to doing great work for his clients, does well by doing good and by doing good in the community and by doing good philanthropically when he’s not in court. 

Michael Ehrenstein 02:44
Greg has devoted an enormous amount of time towards community involvement in philanthropic endeavors. And I’m just going to read from a short list, a very truncated list of some of these appointments. 

Michael Ehrenstein 03:00
Greg was appointed by the mayor of Indianapolis to the Indiana Supreme – I’m sorry – to the Indiana Sports Corporation in 2000 and the Indianapolis Private Industry Council in 2001. He was appointed by the City County Council to the Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation Board of Directors, and he currently serves as the president of that organization. 

Michael Ehrenstein 03:24
He also serves as the Vice President of the Central Indiana Community Foundation and is on the board of the Indianapolis Foundation, and he’s the chairman of that board as well as the English Foundation. 

Michael Ehrenstein 03:37
He’s also very involved, in addition to these community efforts to philanthropic efforts serving on the boards of the Starfish Initiative, the Athenium Foundation Board, the St. Joan of Arc, Catholic Church Area Youth Ministry Board, Board of Trustees of the University of Evansville. 

Michael Ehrenstein 03:58
Washington Township Foundation board pathways House Rocksteady Boxing Foundation, which is one of my favorites. And I think it’s a great organization. The Allisonville Little League and multiple, multiple others. 

Michael Ehrenstein 04:15
So with that short introduction, welcome, Greg, and thank you for joining us today.

Greg Hann 04:24
Oh, thank you, Michael. I look forward to it. And I love my relationship with LCA and all the new friends and old friends we’ve both made over the last I don’t even know what it’s been? 

Greg Hann 04:37
Ten years? Twelve years. At least 15 years. You lose track. I’m getting ready to celebrate my 50th year as an attorney next year. So sometimes it kind of all runs together.

Michael Ehrenstein 04:49
Well, I can imagine how things would run together if I’m working as furiously and at the pace that you work. 

Michael Ehrenstein 04:58
So with all of this involvement, it certainly seems like it takes a herculean amount of stamina and energy and vigor with everything that you’re doing. Just describe your average day for us. What time do you start? 

Michael Ehrenstein 05:17
What time do you finish? Ever often? When do you sleep?

Greg Hann 05:25
I guess part of it is I grew up on a farm, small farm in eastern Indiana, right on the Indiana, Ohio line. And my dad was a veteran, came back, wanted to be a farmer. 

Greg Hann 05:44
And so I learned from early on, like four or five, our day started at four in the morning, so we did everything by hand. We didn’t have automated equipment. Um, and so I I got into that habit of getting up at 04:00 every morning, and then in the wintertime when I turned about eight or nine, we lived on a small river. 

Greg Hann 06:11
He decided we were going to be trappers, so we put out trap lines and he had to get up at two to run the trap lines before he went down to feed the cattle, the hogs, the chickens. So I have never gotten out of that pattern. 

Greg Hann 06:26
Even through college, law school, I’ve always gotten up at 4:30 and went at it. And so that’s where I got it. And I enjoy I enjoy it. I get more done between four and eight or nine in the morning than I do probably the rest of the day because I’m not being interfered people aren’t trying to get a hold of me or whatever. 

Michael Ehrenstein 06:53
So you start your day bright? Well, I wouldn’t say bright. Dark and early. And how long do you go? For? Me, I wake up really early, like not 02:00, but I’m up at four. I go do some working out and get into the office by 630. 

Michael Ehrenstein 07:16
But I got to tell you, for me, I’m back home by four in the afternoon and I’m starting to get tired. Yeah, when do you shut down?

Greg Hann 07:29
I usually go to about nine or ten. You’re still working? Yeah, I do. I try to go work out and do something every day. 

Greg Hann 07:38
I have a lot of meetings that don’t even start until 4:30 or five, and that’s either with the boards I’m on or with clients. Client dinners or client meetings. Yeah, that’s pretty typical. Four to two. 

Michael Ehrenstein 07:59
So what, what is it that motivates you to spend so much of your, of your energy and your, your time on your community involvement and philanthropic endeavors? I mean, you could be, be spending just as much of that time making more money, right? 

Greg Hann 08:26
I guess.

Michael Ehrenstein 08:27
Or doing other things.

Greg Hann 08:29
Yeah, I’ve been very blessed. I’ve had an incredible career and opportunity to work with some incredible people and had some very good results. So that’s given me the ability to do a lot of these other things, which obviously I don’t get paid for them, but my parents were both very involved in our little community where I grew up. 

Greg Hann 09:03
They served on the library board. The Carnegie Library, like most communities, had the airport authority. My dad was on the school board there for 26 years. I think he was on the draft board when we had the draft. 

Greg Hann 09:20
And my mom was a nurse and she was involved in a lot of the nurse organizations, so and my dad was involved in a lot of the farm, prairie farmers and on and on and on. So I grew up with it where I saw not only where they work and obviously a farmer works from dawn to dusk. 

Greg Hann 09:41
And my mom was a nurse and she worked what we called the hoodau. Eleven at night to seven in the morning and then spent pretty much the rest of the day helping my dad or doing these other things.

Michael Ehrenstein 09:55
So part of your motivation, I guess, comes from the work ethic that you grew up with on the farm and the example that your parents set. 

Greg Hann 10:05

Michael Ehrenstein 10:05
And also from the recognition that I think it is, as Warren Buffett said, if you’re in the luckiest 1% of humanity, you have sort of a tug at the heart to to try to help the other 99%.

Greg Hann 10:22
Yeah. I’d say my religion, too. 

Greg Hann 10:29
And I think all religions emphasize that those who have been blessed have a duty to give back. My wife and I do that financially, as well as putting time and effort into charities.

Michael Ehrenstein 10:45
So with all of this work that you’re doing with the charities and with the community and civic organizations, can you share with us an example or two of how one or two examples where you really felt like you’ve made a meaningful impact and how that made you feel? 

Greg Hann 11:14
It’s interesting. You mentioned Rocksteady. I was one of the founders of that. It started here in Indianapolis. Yeah. And now we have over, I think, 600 operations around the world. I had no idea what I was getting into. 

Greg Hann 11:32
I was asked by a former US. Attorney attorney who had Parkinson’s to come on this board with two neurologists here in Indianapolis, two young ladies who have ended up being the leading Parkinson disease doctors in the world. 

Michael Ehrenstein 11:53
Start just by telling us what Rocksteady is.

Greg Hann 11:55
Rocksteady is an exercise program that emulates boxing and working out like boxers do. And it is now proven to be extremely helpful with people who have Parkinson’s and able to re gain their coordination, regained their speech. 

Greg Hann 12:19
Now, it’s not a cure in any way, but obviously going from the one we started here in Indianapolis to now 500, 600. And it’s funny you said that, because another one of our members, Joe Donnelly, came up with Parkinson’s, and he went to the one in Pittsburgh, and he saw my name on the founders thing. 

Greg Hann 12:45
He goes, I didn’t know you didn’t do it. I said, yeah, I’m not on the board anymore. I went off of that for about eight years. But that’s been really neat to see and how it’s grown and taken a life of its own. 

Greg Hann 13:02
It’s done so much good. It’s done a lot of good. The other thing is, I helped start another organization called Starfish here in Indianapolis, which also has gone national, and myself and four other guys, we have a fund here in Indiana called the Century 21 Fund. 

Greg Hann 13:24
And Century 21 was set up by Governor Evan By, and it was a fund to help poverty level kids go to college. And I won’t go through all the qualifications, but long story short, when you go when you’re in your 8th and the 8th grade, they try we ask counselors to try to identify kids who are from poverty level families, which is under $40,000. 

Greg Hann 13:52
That have the gumption and the drive to go to college. And most of them are never been. None of their families ever been. And if they meet certain criteria through high school and it’s not a huge hurdle, it’s like a two eight in high school. 

Greg Hann 14:10
And then they got to do community activity. I mean, there’s a whole laundry list. They will give a four year full ride to college in Indiana, any state school. That’s how we started. And now almost all the private schools honored as well. 

Greg Hann 14:29
And then what we do at Starfish, we don’t provide any of the money for them. We provide the staff that works with them. Councils, tutors, and on and on and on. And then we found out we also had to do it through college because a lot of the cultural differences have grown up where they’ve grown up. 

Greg Hann 14:50
You can get over the hurdle in high school because they’re with peers, so to speak. But then when they get to college, it’s a whole new ball game. And we found out a lot of them are just lost and didn’t feel like they belonged. 

Greg Hann 15:03
And so we extended it then to college, the tutoring and the mentoring, and the mentoring is the biggest part.

Michael Ehrenstein 15:13
You’ve obviously had huge impact helping to better your community and better the lives of others. 

Michael Ehrenstein 15:26
But how does that relate to our profession? What is it about our profession that makes you fit these roles? Or what is it about these roles that make them fit you and our profession?

Greg Hann 15:44
Well, I think, number one, we all, for the most part. 

Greg Hann 15:50
Especially when we’re in the practice and in firms, we’re our own boss, so to speak. We’re entrepreneurs. We can set our own time limits and when we want to get things done other than the court directed activity. 

Greg Hann 16:08
So you got a flexible schedule. And also, I think most people on boards, a lot of them don’t have any legal background. They’re volunteers. And so they’re always looking for people who can add professional advice or oversight and see problems that none of them would ever see. 

Greg Hann 16:33
And I’d say accountants are probably another group that I see get a lot involved on boards and fill the same role. We’re sitting there, and they may not see the train coming down the track. And several times the fact I’m involved in a couple right now where they’d already done something that created a real problem but had no idea. 

Michael Ehrenstein 16:55

Michael Ehrenstein 17:01
As lawyers, we can add value to community organizations and philanthropic organizations because we have the ability to spot some red flags that maybe others might not

Greg Hann 17:17
Exactly well put.

Michael Ehrenstein 17:18
And in terms of to me, it feels like and maybe tell me if you disagree or agree with this, but it feels like there is something about our profession, about its more noble aspects that drives a number of the most successful amongst us into these positions with community organizations and. 

Michael Ehrenstein 17:51
And philanthropic boards. And I’m curious if you agree with that. And if so, what is it about being a lawyer, about the soul of the lawyer that makes the lawyer and the trial lawyer in particular, want to assume these roles? 

Greg Hann 18:13
Well, I think think part of it is our educational background. I think law school gives you a broader perspective on life. I talk to people all the time, either the kids or the parents, about, my child is interested in law school, but I hear it’s really hard and the jobs are limited. 

Greg Hann 18:36
I said, you know what? Going to law school is the best education you could ever get, because it exposes you to every aspect of life, and it gives you an oversight into government, into business, into a relationship between employees, employers, and on and on and on. 

Greg Hann 18:56
So it’s a tremendous education. And then you get just being a tribal lawyer. As you know, we have a ton of life experiences that we get in subjects that we would never have the opportunity to even be involved in that come about because of litigation or confrontation between parties. 

Greg Hann 19:21
And you learn something that’s what’s so exciting, is you learned so much about so many different aspects of society in a business. That’s why I enjoy everything I do, because I’m always doing something different and learning. 

Greg Hann 19:37
It’s never a dull moment. It’s not like we’re in one lane and we can’t get out of that lane. We’re all over the place, right?

Michael Ehrenstein 19:45
Yeah. I agree 100% with that. I’m never bored, and I’m like you. I think we’re very fortunate to do what we do because it’s always exciting, it’s always changing. 

Michael Ehrenstein 19:58
I want to thank you for having taken the time to speak with us a little bit about community involvement and philanthropic involvement and our profession as trial lawyers. Is there anything else you’d like to wrap up with before we conclude? 

Greg Hann 20:20
Oh, I just think that our profession continues to evolve. You made a comment earlier about how we approach our profession or how we approach what we do as lawyers. And I will tell you, I had really good mentors coming up through the ranks, and I learned early on that you had a lot more done by using honey than vinegar. 

Greg Hann 20:51
I think for the most part, I’ve had some clients disagree that, as you know, some clients want to attack, destroy not $0.01 for tribute, but millions for defense. And you let them go for a while until they start seeing the millions in defense, which we’ve seen, but you never burn the bridges with the other attorneys or the other people on the other side. 

Greg Hann 21:25
And I will tell you that some of my best friends today are guys that I was in in the cases against 30 or 40 years ago. And I’ll get a phone call, I just got one the other day from a guy and seen in years. 

Greg Hann 21:41
In fact, I’ll tell you, it was a friend of Steve Henry’s. From Burmelia. Yeah. Called me and said, hey, we got a big thing coming down in Indianapolis, and we need help immediately, and haven’t talked to you in 25 years, but can you help me? 

Michael Ehrenstein 21:57
But I but I remember the shellacking you gave me 25 years ago. Can you help me?

Greg Hann 22:01
I actually remember him. But anyway and I think that’s the one think the younger lawyers got to practice more on civility, and I tell our young people, pick up the phone and call people. 

Greg Hann 22:24
Don’t just use, you know, email and text and whatever to communicate. I mean, you have to have and I know it’s really been hard the last two or three years, but you got to have that personal relationship, I believe, and I think it really helps, even. 

Greg Hann 22:44
I’m just going to zone a call before this on a mediation we’re trying to set up on this giant case, and they were talking, well, should we do it on Zoom? And I said, no, we need to be in front of these people, with the mediator. 

Greg Hann 23:01
You just lose the personality and the feel. I think if you’re on Zoom or. Teens all the time,

Michael Ehrenstein 23:08
I agree with that 100%. Nothing better than being in person.

Greg Hann 23:13

Michael Ehrenstein 23:13
And you were mentioning civility and the importance of the human connection. 

Michael Ehrenstein 23:22
That human connection put two things. One is your fellow Indianapolisite Adam Arceneux. Oh, yeah. He is the epitome of civility, and he gave an interview all about civility a little while ago. 

Michael Ehrenstein 23:44
Which was very well received. And the other thing is that human connection that you’re referring to when you’re talking about civility and talking about why people need to be in the same room to mediate, I believe that that’s the same thing at the core of it that humanity is what drives us as lawyers to be involved with our communities and to be involved with the less fortunate. 

Greg Hann 24:17
I agree 100%.

Michael Ehrenstein 24:18
I think that that’s kind of unique to our profession.

Greg Hann 24:22
Yeah. And Adam is a great example of that. I mean, Adam is on the board of you mentioned the Indianapolis Foundation. And the Indianapolis Foundation is like the mothership of a group of other foundations with about 1.2 or 3,000,000,001 of the largest, 20th largest in the top 20 in the United States founded over 100 and some years ago. 

Greg Hann 24:48
Adam is on the board of the Hamilton County Foundation, which is under, and I’m chairman of that foundation right now. So Adam is doing kind of the same stuff. Now, I know he wants to get more involved. 

Speaker 1 25:04
I’m going to get him as involved as he wants to be,

Michael Ehrenstein 25:08
Maybe more so.

Greg Hann 25:09

Michael Ehrenstein 25:10
All right. Well, Greg, thank you so much for sharing your time with us and your wisdom. We really appreciate it. And last plug, I’m really looking forward forward to seeing you and Libby in person with every other fellow in the LCA who can make it in San Diego for our first in person meeting in October. 

Greg Hann 25:39
We have every plan to be there, believe me.

Michael Ehrenstein 25:43

Greg Hann 25:44
We’ve already booked our room and everything, so good.

Michael Ehrenstein 25:47
Great. Thank you.

Greg Hann 25:49
Okay. Michael, thank you. I enjoy doing this.