Jon Laramore of Baker & Daniels on how the lessons he learned
working in government—in both civil and criminal arenas—
give him a leg up in his appellate law practice
INTERVIEW CONDUCTED AND EDITED BY ROSS PFUND
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DARIO IMPINI
Q: What led you to appellate law?
A: I began to do appellate law in
government. I worked in state government
for 16 years, 12 of which were in the state
attorney general offices. I just had many
opportunities to pursue appellate work
in that context. I came to find out that I
enjoyed it, and the more I did, the more I
learned. Ultimately, that attracts clients.
Q: What was it about the work that you
A: It’s work that’s more centered on
development of the law. Generally, the
appellate lawyer comes to the case with
the facts already established, and my
job is to address potential legal errors.
That involves the skills I enjoy, including
analysis, legal research and writing, and
Q: You mentioned working in the
attorney general’s office. What are your
memories of your time there?
A: We were lucky to have a steady diet of
interesting work, often on issues that were
in the news or on the cutting edge of the
law. We also had a great camaraderie in
the office and great leadership from the
attorneys general, who I worked for.
Q: You also served as legal counsel for
Governors Kernan and O’Bannon. How
did you come into that job, and what
kind of things did you do?
A: That’s a terrific legal job, to be counsel
to the governor. I think I was probably
selected because of the background I have
in government law. I also, on a part-time
basis, taught a class on constitutional law
at a local law school, which is also good
training for the governor’s office.
The legal counsel to the governor is very
much a generalist, giving advice to the
governor and other staff members on all
kinds of legal issues that come up, ranging
from litigation to access to public records
to pardons and other kinds of clemency. It’s
a great variety of work. Because of my prior
work in the attorney general’s office, I had
background in many of those areas.
Q: You really have to have a great
breadth of knowledge.
A: You also have to have a lot of
connections, so you can know who to call
when you don’t know the answer yourself.
Q: Any personal memories of the
A: With Governor O’Bannon, I remember
how seriously he took the process every
year to look at legislation that had passed
and determine if there was anything he
needed to veto. He took that very seriously.
It was work that had to be done in a very
compressed timeframe, but he looked very
carefully at every single bill, and he did veto
a couple of pieces of legislation when I was
his counsel. One of [them] led to litigation in
our state Supreme Court about whether he
had done the veto in the technically proper
manner. It was determined that he did.
For Governor Kernan, the thing I
most remember with him is that he was
presented at the end of his term with a
number of clemency petitions filed by
people on death row, which he [reviewed]
with the utmost seriousness and worked on
with a team of staff members and ultimately
determined to commute the death sentence