Bio: Judge David Bolk received undergraduate degrees in English and Forensic Science from Indiana University before obtaining his Juris Doctorate from the same institution. He practiced law before sitting as a circuit court judge in Indiana for sixteen years.
Q: Why did you decide to come to ISU after being a judge for so many years?
A: I taught here as an adjunct for about six years, and before that, I had been an adjunct in the Paralegal Studies program at Saint Mary of the Woods College for ten, so it was something I had always wanted to do. The entire time I was on the bench, I was teaching a class at a college.
Q: What about ISU specifically do you enjoy the most?
A: What I like is the students, of course. Unfortunately, what I did in my profession was having to see a lot of college aged kids who, for a variety of reasons—many of which were outside of their control—did bad things or were in bad situations. So, to be around that same age group who were in a position to do something positive in their lives and to be able to help with that in some small way was something I wanted to do.
Q: What initially interested you about the law?
A: I had always wanted to be a lawyer, and I’m not entirely sure why. My guess is—now that I’m getting older and can think back on these things—that it was probably something that my father would have liked to have done with his life. I’m first generation, though. My dad went here for a year and a half, and my mom went here for a semester, and then suddenly I was there, so they both left school to get jobs. The entire time I was an undergrad, though, I knew I was going to law school.
Q: Do you have any role models who have inspired you along the way?
A: I would say that I’ve had a lot of major influencers in my life. For academics, though, the most influential person would be my high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Utley. I liked school, but I really liked to read and learn, so I would ask Mrs. Utley what I should read, and she would give me five books to go and read. She was one of those educators that make you appreciate learning and knowledge. They teach you so much more than the subject matter. I don’t remember hardly any Latin, but I do remember a lot about critical thinking and enjoyment of school because of her.
Q: What is the most difficult job you’ve ever had?
A: Being a full-time circuit court judge, for sure was very difficult. It was just intellectually and emotionally draining. It wasn’t as much the number of hours worked, because I definitely worked more at a law firm, but you would just come home exhausted at the end of the day. The danger of being a full-time judge for so long is you develop this sort of cynicism. You see so much misery every day that you end up thinking that that’s what the entire world is like. I didn’t want to be one of those people, so I quit when I was fifty-four.
Q: Any happy stories from your time on the bench?
A: All of my happy stories have to do with adoption work. As a circuit court judge, I did all of the adoption cases in Vigo County for fourteen years. Any time a child was adopted—which was really the only happy thing I ever did—I got to be a part of that. I still hold a license to practice law, so I still do adoption work because I really enjoyed it.
Q: What is one frustrating thing you see students doing?
A: What surprises me is that students—I’m not sure if they don’t believe me or if they don’t think it’ll happen—will turn in stuff that is plagiarized from the Internet or that is clearly not their work. I think students maybe don’t understand the real implications that that could mean. I would say that’s a little frustrating at times. I’m not sure what else you can do as an instructor besides telling them that you’ll be using Turn-it-in.
Q: Any advice for future law students?
A: What students who are thinking about going to law school need to do is to find a challenging subject that they like, and they need to do well in school. On top of that, they need to study and prepare for the LSAT. There are times that I see students who think that if they become involved in every activity on campus, then they can overcome not doing well in class or not doing well on the LSAT. Being involved is part of the college experience, but you can’t do it to the detriment of your schooling.