Go Big or Go Home? Small Town Offers Opportunity
By Lisa Hendrickson
Career path: After graduating from the IU McKinney School of Law in 2016, Ahler worked briefly as an assistant to former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar in Washington, DC, and as a law clerk at the Chicago firm of Spagnolo & Hoeksema LLC. He now works as an attorney in his hometown.
A typical workday: Ahler walks two blocks from his house to the law office he shares with fellow IU School of Law alum Michael Riley. His workdays are anything but “typical,” with legal projects ranging from divorce to personal injury to real estate transactions. He’s also a contracted employee public defender in both Jasper and Tippecanoe counties and serves as the attorney for the town of Wolcott, about 17 miles away. “No two days are the same for me. In a small town, you have to be willing to have a general practice of law. I had a lot of uncertainty at first, but in order to learn how to practice in these different areas, I just had to do it.”
Perks of small-town life: Ahler can walk home for lunch, doesn’t have to worry about traffic jams, and is only an hour-and-a-half drive from both Indianapolis and Chicago. Some days, he says he feels like he’s on a movie set for a small-town legal drama. He often meets up with other attorneys at a local coffee shop, where fellow attorneys nearing retirement have generously shared their experiences, advice and even clients. “I’ve had some fantastic mentors here.”