Thursday, February 11, 2010

RIP: My Law School Classmate and Friend Alan Hutchinson

The other day, I was sitting next to a partner of a local law firm at a basketball game. I only knew a little about the man's firm, but began talking to him about one subject I did know: that his firm had employed a good friend of mine right out of law school: Alan Hutchinson. Alan had taken a job at the Lebanon office of the law firm and I had barely seen or spoken to him since graduation in 1987. The partner told me that Alan had left the firm several years earlier. When I asked if he knew what he was doing now, he replied that he was "dead."

I was shocked to say the least. Alan would have been in his middle 40s when he passed away. Being a swimmer in college, he had come to law school in great shape and had very healthy living habits.

Alan always stood out in the sea of social misfits that dominate law school. Although a sharp mind and one of the top students in my law school class, Alan was one of the most down to earth, easy going, and nicest people you could ever meet in law school. That combination was extremely rare. Alan had a background in journalism and had been involved in school politics. As I was editor of the law school newspaper and had been elected President of the Student Bar Association my final year of law school, we had a lot in common and he frequently came by my school office to talk about the latest goings on.

Thanks to the Internet, I was able to find Alan's obituary on-line, which reads in part below:
Mr. Alan David Hutchinson, 46, of Chicago, Ill., and formerly of Lebanon, died Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008, at the family home in Lebanon.
Mr. Hutchinson was born on May 8, 1962, in Lebanon. He was the son of the late Robert Franklin Hutchinson and Eleanor Ruth (Miller) Hutchinson, who survives.

He lived most of his life in Lebanon, where he graduated from Lebanon High School in 1980. While in high school he was Senior Class President and was active in Latin Club, serving as the State President. As an athlete, he was a swimmer and held several records. Also during high school he was a cub reporter for The Lebanon Reporter.

Mr. Hutchinson was the recipient of the Malpas and Rector scholarships and attended DePauw University. He graduated cum laude in 1984 and received a B.S. in Political Science and English Composition. While at DePauw he joined Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and served there as president for one year. He was also on the swim team in college and held several records. While a student he served on the college newspaper staff.

After graduating from DePauw, Mr. Hutchinson went on to study law at Indiana University, graduating in 1987. While a law student he worked on the professional magazine, Law Review. He was also a member of the Order of Barristers, Moot Court Society and represented the school in appellate advocacy competitions. Following graduation from law school, he went on to become an associate in the Lebanon law firm of Parr Richey Obremskey and Morton until February 1998. He then moved to Chicago, where he was in private practice and served clients in Illinois and Indiana through the time of his death.
The obituary, while detailing the successes of Alan's life, does not explain what happened to him to be cut down with so many years left. An Internet search though suggests the last few years of Alan's life were not so successful. There may have been financial problems associated with businesses Alan owned in Chicago. A complaint filed by the Illinois Bar disciplinary commission alleged he had a problem with meth that led Alan to get caught up in a sting by Chicago police. He was placed on probation by the Illinois bar for the incident and ordered to get extensive drug treatment. When Alan failed to comply with the probation conditions, the Illinois and Indiana bar suspended him from practicing law. That had to be upsetting to him. Alan's father, who died just a couple years earlier, had been a long time Boone County attorney and his grandfather had served as a Boone County judge.

In law school, I had not known Alan to take drugs. I do not recall him even going to a bar with his law school classmates to have a drink, which in my class was a frequent occurrence. If you were to ask who in my law school class would end up with a drug problem, the list would have been pretty long - but the health-conscious, former athlete, clean-cut Alan Hutchinson certainly would not have been on the list. While I'm not sure what took Alan's life, it is clear that something in this enormously talented man's life had gone very wrong. It is a shame. Alan was a great guy who deserved a better fate in life. RIP, Alan Hutchinson.


Cato said...

That really sucks, man. Sorry about your friend.

Ours is not a happy profession. Learn to make enduring hardwood furniture and open a small gallery. You'll be much happier.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Thanks, Cato. When something like this happens you start searching the memory bank, looking for a character flaw or some sort of bad behavior that might portend what the events of the last few years of the person's life. That way you can rationalize that it couldn't have happened to you. But frankly I'm at a loss because for three years of law school I never saw anything but a rock solid, psychologically sound indivdual who I would have guessed could have handle anything life threw him.

Blog Admin said...

Paul, I'm sorry for your loss.

On a lighter note, did you read this article? I found it via the ILB: