Mark Kamish

Mark Kamish
Mark Kamish

“What a privilege it is to be able to do what we do.”

In 2004, I was a full-time public defender in downtown Indianapolis. Having taken a road less traveled (that started as a West Point graduate), I had finished law school and passed the bar exam at the tender age of 40. A graduate of the evening program (5 nights a week for 4 years), I became a lawyer, leaving behind two successful earlier careers as an Army officer and in management at a Fortune 500 companies. I took a 50% pay cut to become a public defender, following in the footsteps of my uncle, Bill Falvey, who had been the Chief Public Defender in Ramsey County (St. Paul, Minnesota) for almost 20 years. My new role helping people in trouble and fighting for justice had given me a new lease on life. I had found my life’s purpose. I was energized, passionate and fully engaged.

On this particular summer day in 2004, however, I was not feeling quite so passionate and engaged. I was leaving the hot, sticky, dreary and depressing confines of the Marion County Jail after having had a very difficult conversation with a client of mine. He was angry. It had been a long week, and my client had not been the first to express his displeasure with me. I had fought earlier in the week with myriad prosecutors, judges, policemen, civilian witnesses, other clients, their families and had even dealt with an aggressive corridor confrontation brought on by the angry boyfriend of a woman whom a jury had not believed was raped by my client. He was clearly unhappy with the jury’s not guilty verdict, and made that fact known to me when he poked me in the chest and yelled, “How do you live with yourself?!” I was tired, worn out and fed up with all this shit.

As I pushed the down button of the jail’s elevator, a frail hand stuck through the elevator door, further delaying my departure from the place I couldn’t wait to leave. I audibly sighed and clearly must have looked annoyed as an elderly man stepped on to the elevator. He was dressed in a light summer suit, wearing a stylish fedora and carrying a cane. I recognized the man; he was a lawyer I saw from time to time in the criminal courtrooms of the City County Building. He must have also been visiting a client of his. The man normally moved slowly in court; addressed judges in a barely audible voice; was polite and charming with prosecutors; but always appeared to be fighting for his clients.

We rode the elevator in silence, looking at our shoes – me in my thoughts and the elder lawyer in his. As we reached the bottom floor, the old man’s tired eyes raised and met mine. “What a privilege it is to be able to do what we do,” he said in his typically soft tone. “Have a nice day.”

Not every day in the life of a criminal defense lawyer is nice. We have hard work to do and daily battles to be fought for those whose futures and freedoms have been entrusted to us. But I am reminded from time to time of the words uttered many years ago to me by that elderly criminal defense attorney from Indianapolis.

I have devoted a decade-and-a-half to becoming excellent at my craft. My practice has always concentrated on defending those accused of committing crimes. There have been, in fact, very few years in my legal career in which I was not limiting my practice exclusively to criminal defense – just like now. This focus and intense desire to excel in the courtroom, in trial and in pursuit of my clients’ goals have fueled me, and have brought about countless amazing results for those clients.

As long as I choose to continue doing this work, I will always be aware of how important it is to give my very best effort on behalf of all my clients – and will always remember what a privilege it is to be able to do what I do.

*Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy*

1 of only 6 Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists in Indiana

Bar Admissions: Indiana; U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana

Areas of practice:

Criminal Defense at the Trial, Appellate and Post-Conviction Levels

Criminal Defense Attorney, Kamish Law Office (2005-2007)

Associate, Kiefer & McGoff (2004-2005)

Public Defender, Marion County Public Defender Agency (2000-2004)

Supplier Engineer, Harman-Motive, Inc. (1996-2000)

Operations Manager, Harman-Motive, Inc. (1994-1996)

Project Engineer, Newell (1991-1994)

Production Supervisor, Newell (1990-1991)

Field Artillery Officer, United States Army (1983-1990)

Qualifications and Awards:

  • Ranger; Senior Parachutist; Jumpmaster; Meritorious Service Medal; Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Commander, 84th United States Army Field Artillery Detachment, Groβengstingen, Germany (1988-1990)
  • Defense Language Institute (German), Presidio of Monterey, California (1987-1988)
  • Nuclear Weapons Detachment Commander’s Course, Fort Sill, Oklahoma (1987)
  • United States Army Field Artillery Officer Advanced Course, Fort Sill, Oklahoma (1987)
  • 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina (1984-1987)
    • Battalion Fire Support Officer, 2-325 Airborne Infantry Regiment, (1985-1987)
    • Battery Fire Direction Officer, C Battery, 2-319 Airborne Field Artillery Regiment (1985-1986)
    • Battalion Assistant S-4 Officer, 2-319 Airborne Field Artillery Regiment (1985)
    • Company Fire Support Team Chief, A Company, 2-325 Airborne Infantry Regiment (1984-1985)
  • Jumpmaster School (1986)
  • Ranger School (Class 4-84), Fort Benning, Georgia (1983-1984)
  • Airborne School (1982)

National Criminal Defense College, Macon, Georgia, 2003

Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis (J.D.), 2000

Defense Language Institute, Presidio of Monterey, California (German), 1988

United States Military Academy, West Point, New York (B.S., Engineering), 1983

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