The Gold Standard

Trent Sandifur transmutes his Fort Knox experience into a sterling legal career

Published in 2010 Indiana Rising Stars — March 2010

Trent J. Sandifur always wanted to do two things: serve his country and practice law. He found out that combining the two was a quick path to success.

“In the JAG Corps you get immediate responsibility and you handle your own cases. You don’t serve in a background role,” Sandifur says. “You’re given a tremendous amount of freedom to make decisions on those cases, so after having handled my own cases for three years, it made the transition to a law firm much easier.”

He spent most of his time in the JAG Corps on detail to the Department of Justice as a felony special assistant U.S. attorney, responsible for prosecuting all civilian-jurisdiction crimes that happened on Fort Knox. “I was essentially a district attorney,” Sandifur says. “Any crime that happens outside the gates is going to happen inside the gates. You have everything from your typical assault cases, your misdemeanor assaults, your DUIs, your drug possessions, your drug distributions.”

After four years on active duty, Sandifur made the transition to private practice at Taft Stettinius & Hollister. “I almost had to learn the role of an associate because I was so used to running my own cases and making all the calls,” says Sandifur, who often works with a large team on complex cases. His practice includes civil and criminal cases as well as internal investigations and government contracts law.

Sandifur, who still serves as a major and a brigade judge advocate in the Army Reserves, volunteers every month at HVAF of Indiana (formerly the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation), using his legal knowledge to help homeless veterans. “The soldiers, both active duty and reserve component service members, are being called upon today to do so much,” says Sandifur. “Anything I can do to make their lives easier is extremely rewarding.”

He credits the military’s core principles for his success. “It’s the intangibles aside from legal ability that I think are probably even more important in contributing to someone’s success at a firm,” says Sandifur, citing the Army’s seven values. “Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage—those are drilled into you from day one and I think anyone who lives their life by accordance to those values is going to be successful in whatever they do.”

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