J.P. Hanlon has worked on both sides of the justice system, and either way, he is passionate about upholding the rule of law, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported in a profile on the Baker & Daniels LLP partner.
Hanlon was named to the IBJ's 18th Forty Under 40 class in the weekly publication's February 1 issue. Criteria for selection included making significant achievements — and whether individuals are likely to continue to achieve. This year's class was chosen from more than 230 nominations.
In Hanlon's current role as a white-collar criminal defense attorney, he doesn't care that his work isn't necessarily the most admired, the story reported. "A lot of people do view criminal defense as an unpopular cause, but they will find their views change very quickly when a family member or friend is all of the sudden being accused," Hanlon told the IBJ.
For five years, Hanlon served as a government prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Indianapolis office. He prosecuted a wide range of civil and criminal cases for fraud, embezzlement and identity theft, the IBJ reported. At Baker & Daniels since 2006, Hanlon founded and leads the firm's white collar criminal defense practice group.
"On a professional level, it's been a very easy transition," Hanlon told the IBJ on adjusting to the differences between government service and private practice. "I found I'm better suited for being a defense lawyer," he added, citing his strong feelings on the idea of redemption.
"People are human," Hanlon said. "They make mistakes."
"The motivation for me was the opportunity to help people when they are at the worst time in their lives, with the entire weight and force of the government bearing down against them," Hanlon told the IBJ. "The burden is always 100 percent on the government ... and the government isn't always right."
Underlining his belief that everyone is entitled to a proper defense, Hanlon routinely takes on pro bono cases before the U.S. District Court and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the story. He also serves on the board of Providence Cristo Rey High School, a Catholic preparatory school on the near-west side where students finance 75 percent of their tuition by working one day a week at a corporate sponsor.
A father of two young children, Hanlon is reminded every day of the importance of his work, the IBJ story reported. "When I look at my kids, I feel even more passionately about doing what I do," he said.