Attorney. Philanthropist. Advocate for the Rule of Law.
Huntington Attorney Honors Colleagues
Stanley Matheny, Huntington, has a desk filled with papers and a chair stacked with pink “while you were out” notes. His practice employs four additional attorneys - a surprise to a visitor who has read about a dire future for the legal profession.
Stan grew up poor in a small town in Illinois where the nearest lawyer was 12 miles away. His mother died when he was six years old, leaving him and two siblings. The farm boy worked his way through Wabash College waiting tables at his fraternity. When he was elected president of the fraternity, he had to find a different job. There were 140 members of his class at college in 1956. Economics became his major, and now copies of the Wall Street Journal fill his lobby.
Harold “Taught Me How to Be a Lawyer”
Stan loved politics and was elected city judge in 1963 and appointed city attorney in 1967. Though he decided later politics wasn’t for him, it is what guided him to the legal profession. There were no lawyers in his family and only a few college-educated family members.
After law school, Stan worked as an associate at the Shelbyville practice of trial lawyer Harold Soshnick in 1959.
“Harold taught me how to be a lawyer,” Stan said. Soshnick told him to write a complaint. Young Stan asked, ‘Where’s the formbook?” Harold told him to “look it up.” Stan “dug in” and learned how to write a complaint. “Then you own it,” Matheny shared with a smile.
The complaint was an injury to a caddy at a Columbus country club. The caddy lost an eye from a golfer’s errant swing. Matheny was “disappointed” when the $100,000 verdict was settled at $50,000 on appeal. Still in 1960, that was a good settlement for the caddy’s injury.
Stanley Matheny moved to Huntington, Indiana, to join an existing law practice. Becoming friends with Bob Good, an attorney for the Shelby County Rural Electric Membership Cooperative (REMC), led to his recommendation to become an attorney for the Huntington County REMC, which helped him build his practice in this town of now 17,000 plus people.
The Rule of Law
Stan believes if more people were exposed to lawyers or judges, “They would understand the importance of the rule of law.”
One rare point of agreement with businessman/activist George Soros: “Private property and the rule of law are needed for a society to thrive," Matheny shared. “If you get a 3-2 decision against you in some countries, they shoot the third judge and find someone to replace him if they don’t like the decision,” the lawyer related.
Stan continues to support the Foundation’s mission financially even though he hasn’t served on the Indiana Bar Foundation’s board for more than a decade. He knows the Foundation’s programs are educating youth about the rule of law and helping families seeking legal assistance who cannot afford a private attorney. Whether he is supporting the March of Dimes or the Bar Foundation, helping others is a guiding principle. He makes a donation every time a member of his college law class dies to honor that classmate’s legacy to the practice of law.
“Smaller groups keep track of each other well,” he said.
Stan’s an education philanthropist – honoring his colleagues, helping others in his small town and others, and giving back so that the legal profession can promote the rule of law as a solution to disputes and grievances.