Late start lets alumni become lawyer


A late start in college has not prevented Blair Hindman ('93) from achieving his goal of becoming an attorney. Hindman received his J.D. from the Dickinson School of Law, Dickinson College, Carlisle, in May 1996 and has joined the firm of Kooman and Heeter in Clarion.

Hindman, a Brookville resident for most of his life, did not plan to attend Clarion University, but circumstances converged to launch his new career.

"I was 25 years old and a foreman for a tree service when I had a bad accident and broke my back in several places," recalls Hindman. "I realized then that I needed more education, because I couldn't do the physical labor any longer."

Hindman had already taken a few classes at Clarion, but enrolled as a full-time returning adult student in January 1990 majoring in geology.

The first several years were not easy for him because of his injury. "I stood through my classes for two years," he says. "Greg Clary in Student Support Services was very supportive and helped me along. He arranged my scheduled to minimize the walking I needed to do and helped find me the apparatus I needed to use until my back healed. Student Support Services does a tremendous job for those with varying needs."

As an undergraduate, Hindman also joined the Returning Adult and Commuter Students (RACS) organization crediting them for good academic and moral support.

Once Hindman started classes he discovered he liked to write and enjoyed English, prompting a decision to switch majors. "I learned that more businesses were hiring people with B.A. degrees and I thought that would be a good foundation for me," he says. "I credit Dr. Ron Shumaker and Dr. Edward Grejda for forcing me to be a strong enough writer so that I would later succeed in law school. They made a big difference."

The potential of pursuing law as a career grew in Hindman during his junior year when he had a summer internship in the office of Alexander, Garbarino, Kifer, Speer, and Neely of Clarion. "I thought I would like to practice law, and the internship gave me enough exposure for me to find out what I wanted to do," he recalls. He made his only application to Dickinson and was accepted.

"It didn't strike me that my preparation was any different from anyone else in my classes," he says. "Clarion gave me a good basic education and that is the best background for law school. I received an excellent undergraduate education, and I got out of it what I put into it. I believe that this is true about most universities. My fantastic instructors just put the icing on the cake for me.

"There was one other Clarion graduate, Scott Alan, in my class at Dickinson. I was told during my interview that Dickinson has had success with applicants from Clarion and looks upon them favorably."

Hindman was also happy for another aspect of Clarion University. "Many of the people I graduated with had entered law school with college debts," he said. "Because I went to Clarion, where the prices were reasonable, I didn't have a debt that large. Even with the debts from prestigious named schools, my classmates were no better prepared than I was for law school."

With his degree in hand, Hindman returned to Clarion to practice law. "My family and I came back here intentionally," he says. "We are a Clarion family and Clarion has been very good to me. We like the town and find it quite progressive. There were many things to draw us back here."

Hindman will be concentrating on corporate, business, and real estate law in his present position. "Law is a public service in a way," he says. "I find it challenging and interesting. There are a lot of opportunities to meet different people and I enjoy that."

Hindman is married to Ritta (Wazelle, M.S. '94 ), who teaches part-time in the communication science and disorders department at Clarion University. They have four children, Heath, Sarah, Kelsey, and Clay, and reside in Brookville.