Rising star attorney spreading knowledge through pro bono work

May. 2, 2018 — With a cat named Liberty and a dog called Gideon Wainwright – named for the landmark case that established the right to counsel under the 6th amendment – there’s no doubt that Indiana-based Bays Family Law is strong on giving a voice to those who are often silent. And with a certified therapy dog named Mordecai roaming the office, that voice is often accompanied by a gentle touch.

“Gideon’s the firm mascot because he comes to work with me,” explains Jennifer Bays Beinart ’06, who practices law with her mother, Donna J. Bays. “And Mordecai is very helpful when dealing with people with high levels of emotional distress.”

Jennifer Bays Beinart, right, and her mother, Donna J. Bays, hold dogs that help out at Bays Family Law practice. Donna has Mordecai, a certified therapy dog, while Jennifer holds Gideon Wainwright.
Jennifer Bays Beinart, right, and her mother, Donna J. Bays, hold dogs that help out at Bays Family Law practice. Donna has Mordecai, a certified therapy dog, while Jennifer holds Gideon Wainwright.

He’s especially handy for Beinart, who focuses her practice on family law, estate planning, and difficult child custody disputes.

“I was a child of divorce so my goal is to remind clients how their actions are affecting their children,” says Beinart, who’s been recognized with numerous awards for both her law work and volunteer efforts in the community.

She’s been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star for the past three years – an honor given to just 2.5 percent of Indiana attorneys who are under age 40 or in their first decade of practice. She’s a graduate of the Indiana State Bar Association’s 2015 Leadership Development Academy, and was the 2017 president of the Boone County Bar Association. Last year, Beinart was named Boone County’s Pro Bono Attorney of the Year, for racking up the most hours of pro bono work.

“I have the knowledge and I want to spread it,” says the self-described extrovert who thrives on helping others. She’s a Guardian ad Litem volunteer for Kids’ Voice of Indiana, as well as a volunteer mediator with the Marion County Family Resource Center Mediation Program. For the third year in a row she’s participating in a free will clinic in a low-income Indianapolis neighborhood, writing simple wills, living wills, and healthcare power of attorneys, among other documents, for anyone who walks in the door.

Jennifer Bays Beinart '06
    Jennifer Bays Beinart '06

“I try to do as much pro bono work as I can and keep the lights on,” Beinart says.

Her boundless energy leaves time for an active Grinnell volunteer life, too. Beinart was part of her 10-year Reunion planning committee, serves as a GRASP volunteer, hosted a student extern, and regularly talks to students who are interested in attending law school.

She’s also one of the top users of the online Grinnell Connect community.

“I upload everything, and I talk to everyone,” she says. “It can be difficult to find a Grinnell community in Indianapolis and the College is such an important part of my life and identity, so I look for other ways to connect. I often go online to find my Grinnell family.”

A double major in political science and religious studies, Beinart was active in religious life on campus and briefly considered seminary, but two years after graduation, she decided on law school. She graduated from Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 2011.

She started working in family law at her mother’s firm while job hunting during one of the worst employment periods for law grads. An offer from a larger firm eventually came, but she decided to stay with the family.

“I love what I’m doing, and I love the impact I have on children in central Indiana. And I love the environment of two, kick-ass female attorneys! We work together amazingly well and there’s no misogyny that other women attorneys deal with.”

She became a partner in January 2017 in what truly is a family firm; her paralegal is her sister-in-law, and her mother’s paralegal is her brother.

“It’s a great environment here and we’re really good at supporting one another,” she says. “My gift is speech, and I use that for those who can’t speak, to lift up those who are silent. I’ve been that way my whole life.”

— by Anna Stein '84

For your information:

One of the ways Jennifer Bays Beinart gives back to her alma mater is by serving as a Grinnell Regional Admission Support Program volunteer. Find out more about the GRASP program.