John B. Ford
Partner
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I’m proud to be a 4th generation St. Joseph County attorney. I was born in South Bend and went to John Adams High School (Class of ’69, summa cum, state swimming medalist, etc.). An English major, fraternity president and varsity swimmer at Ohio Wesleyan University, I continued straight on to IU Law School and then joined the firm in 1976. My dad, G. Burt Ford, was a partner. Not many sons have the honor and joy of working with their father for 30 years.

For too long I was involved with masters swimming at the Michiana YMCA and the house corporation of my college fraternity. I spent 6 years on the Evaluation and Allocations Division and Admissions Committees of United Way of St. Joseph County, and am a past president of the Winding Brook Park Homeowners Association. I’ve been a member of the Michiana Estate Planning Council since 1990 and a director since 2012. I’m currently Secretary of Morris Park Country Club. My handicap hovers around 10. Don’t stand behind me on the tee.

I’m blessed to have 2 adult children and 2 grandsons. My soul mate, Mary Funkhouser – a high school classmate – owns a home in The Villages, Florida, where she spends the winters and allows me a visit or 2. My retirement plan is to keep working.

Brian R. Gates
Partner
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Brian’s legal practice combines his talent for critical analysis and attention to detail with his passion for helping families and children.

Before becoming a lawyer, Brian was both an educator and a caseworker in the mental health field. His experiences representing abused and neglected children as a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate taught him the importance of supporting parents through difficult times while focusing on protecting the innocent. Brian puts those lessons to good use in his family law practice, helping parents and married couples with paternity proceedings, adoptions, prenuptial agreements, divorce, child support, guardianships, and custody matters. Brian continues to serve the community as a CASA, and also represents children and seniors as a Guardian ad Litem, helping the courts to assess children’s (and sometimes seniors’) best interests.

Brian’s advocacy skills also serve him well in his general litigation practice. Brian represents businesses and individuals in contractual disputes, landlord/tenant issues, collection matters, personal injury claims, and wrongful death suits.

Jacqueline Sells Homann
Partner
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Understanding and managing risks is vital for your success in life and business. Although you can’t avoid every risk, you need to know what they are and prepare for them. So is having a lawyer and a law firm who knows how to manage risks and help you achieve your goals. That’s what solid counseling can do–whether you are in litigation (Jackie’s handled cases in state, federal, bankruptcy and appellate courts), writing, reviewing or negotiating contracts, or facing other challenges. Managing your risks and helping you achieve your goals–that’s Jackie’s goal.

Jackie is the first female partner in Jones Obenchain’s 100+ year history. She considers it her greatest privilege to provide business counseling and management of legal issues for her clients to bring a resolution as promptly as possible. Assessing risks, putting together a plan and helping you navigate your course is what Jackie does best. But if litigation results, Jackie’s a seasoned litigator who can help you understand what the issues are, both legal and business, and help you decide the right direction to take. Although she focuses on business disputes, Jackie has experience in construction and personal injury.

Jackie’s also a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee, a post she’s held since 2002. As a trustee, it’s her job to liquidate assets for distribution to creditors and assist in protecting the integrity of the bankruptcy system. As trustee, she stays connected in nearly every legal arena, giving her a unique perspective and ability to serve all her clients with a broad perspective on their needs.

Outside the office, she’s a wife and a mom; a dancer; plays golf and runs. Active in her local community, she serves in a variety of servant and leadership positions.

Janet G. Horvath
Partner
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Janet Horvath has built a dynamic and diverse general practice that enables her to provide leading businesses, their executives and families with the commercial and personal legal assistance they need. Because she strives to develop long-term relationships with her clients, matching her legal knowledge to their changing business and family priorities, Janet has assisted with everything from multi-million-dollar transactions to estate planning and probate administration. Business owners often seek Janet’s input with ongoing management decisions, and changes to their employment handbooks and HR policies. She makes sure the company meets its objectives while also complying with the law. Janet has also defended companies against discrimination claims made by terminated employees. In the end, Janet’s goal is to help her clients solve their legal challenges promptly and effectively, helping their businesses to flourish as she also protects their personal assets.

Janet has always placed a high value on people and the community. She was raised just outside of South Bend in New Carlisle on her family’s dairy farm. Her great-grandfather purchased the farm while working at Studebaker’s during the Great Depression and the farm has remained in her family for three generations, worked by both her grandfather and father. Growing up, Janet actively participated in her local 4-H Club and showed dairy cattle from her family’s farm at the County Fair. This community-centered upbringing instilled in Janet the desire to help others and to build lasting relationships both personally and professionally. She was also raised in a culture that honored a person’s handshake as their word; today, that perspective helps Janet to keep things simple, to cut to the chase legally, without overcomplicating matters. Simply put, Janet efficiently protects her clients while keeping things simple.

“I pride myself on being exactly who my clients need me to be as their businesses and families grow,” says Janet. “I am fortunate enough to have handled so many different issues for my clients that I generally know how to help them solve their big and small challenges.”

Since 2013, Janet has shared her legal knowledge and experiences with the next generation of business leaders by teaching business law as an adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s College, her alma mater. Janet identifies a recent call from a former student, who now owns her own business, as one of her most gratifying professional experiences. “My student knew the issues to be concerned about from our class and wanted to retain me to ensure she was adequately protecting herself,” says Janet.

Janet and her husband, Leon, have two young sons who are the focus of nearly all of her free time. When she’s not at work or with her family, Janet enjoys volunteering for local non-profit organizations. Janet is a member and past president of the Junior League of South Bend and serves as a director of the Scholarship Foundation of St. Joseph County. Janet is also a past president of the Saint Mary’s College South Bend Alumnae Club and past board member of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

Mark J. Phillipoff
Partner
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Mark graduated from Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Law. He was a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and an associate at a small southern Indiana law firm before returning to his hometown, South Bend, and joining Jones Obenchain in 1983.

Mark’s practice includes mediation, general trial work, family law, estate planning, probate and real estate law. He has handled appeals in Indiana and Michigan, as well as the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Unlike many of the Jones Obenchain attorneys, most of Mark’s clients are individuals rather than corporations.

In 2007, Mark was trained to become a Collaborative Family Law Lawyer and he joined the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (www.collaborativepractice.com). Collaborative divorce involves the use of attorneys for each party, often joined by other expert consultants, but, instead of court battles, the parties and lawyers pledge from the outset to work together in crafting an outcome that is fair to all without ever going to Court.

In 2008, Mark began mediating family law matters. A certified mediator with thirty years of family law experience, Mark has helped dozens of couples resolve their disputes outside of the courtroom. Mark sometimes conducts two or three mediations in a week here in the offices of Jones Obenchain. Even with that busy schedule, Mark or his assistant, Colleen, can usually schedule a mediation session very quickly when needed.

Mark and his wife live in Granger. He enjoys spending time at his family’s cottage in southwest Michigan. Mark has a love of Notre Dame and photography.

J. Thomas Vetne
Partner
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Tom enjoys challenging his clients’ preconceived notions of who lawyers are and what lawyers do. Think lawyers only keep bankers’ hours? Tom has met with clients and witnesses before work, after work, and on weekends; their hours are his hours.

Think lawyers only write unintelligible, impenetrable legalese? Tom writes in plain English, and only plain English. Think lawyers are humorless? See if you can come up with a Monty Python quote he can’t identify by character, movie title, or television episode.

Tom focuses his practice on litigation and appeals. But unlike many other litigators, Tom actually tries cases. In fact, the Indiana Jury Verdict Reporter recognized him as one of Indiana’s three most prolific civil trial lawyers in 2011. Tom represents insurance companies, businesses, and individuals in state, federal, and appellate courts. He has tried cases to verdict in many counties across northern Indiana, and has represented clients in administrative proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Tom is especially interested in appellate work. He has argued cases before the Indiana Supreme Court, the Indiana Court of Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. In 2001, his advocacy garnered a commendation by the Indiana Court of Appeals in a published opinion.

Outside the office, Tom enjoys a good single-malt scotch (especially the Islay varieties), thermophilic composting (he’s open to vermicomposting but his wife put her foot down), and David Foster Wallace’s hyper-literate essays (are there any other kind?). He lives in Granger with his wife and three children.

Pam Gunterman
Office Administrator
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Pam has been with Jones Obenchain since 1989, working her first 11 years with the firm as a paralegal. She assumed the position as office administrator in January of 2001 and has enjoyed wearing the many hats of the manager of a medium sized law firm.

Pam shares the firm’s belief in giving back to the community and has worked to arrange and maintain the firm’s efforts with Habitat for Humanity, the Adopt-A-Family program at Catholic Charities, participating in the Lee National Denim Day and in the Indiana Attorney General’s March Against Hunger, which benefits the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, to highlight just a few.

Pam is a member of St. Dominic Catholic Church where she is a cantor, lector and member of the Parrish Life Committee. Pam is also a member of the Area 2 Agency on Aging Advisory Counsel for Real Services of Northern Indiana. An active member of Psi Iota Xi, a national philanthropic sorority. Pam serves as an officer in her local chapter as well as a member of the Indiana State Board. Pam was selected the National Psi Ote of the Year in 2010 and co-authored a children’s book about the sorority with several fellow chapter members. When not filling her role at the firm, Pam can be seen filling roles of a different kind on stage at South Bend Civic Theatre and The Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres in Nappanee.

Originally from western Pennsylvania, Pam now resides in Bremen, Indiana with her husband of 36 years Tony. Pam and Tony have four children and seven grandchildren.

Patricia Hans
Bookkeeper
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Patty started as an assistant to the bookkeeper in May of 1993 and took over the bookkeeping position in 2001. Working with numbers and keeping the financial side of the firm organized and in balance has provided her with tremendous job satisfaction throughout the years.

She has been married to her husband, Lester, for 33 years and has two daughters, two step-daughters, 9 grandchildren, one of whom lives with her, and 2 rescue dogs. They live in the country, close to North Liberty, Indiana, where Patty gardens, walks, cooks, reads and enjoys her life.

Justine Rader-McDonough
Paralegal
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Justine started her working career in the medical field after earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Lake Erie College. She worked as a registered hemodialysis technician for almost nine years before staying home for a time while her children were younger. She re-entered the medical field again as a chiropractic assistant. After several years working in a chiropractic office, she was able to work as a physician’s assistant helping to perform medical examinations for social security. Due to unforeseen circumstances, she was forced to retire from the medical field and returned to school where she earned an associate’s degree in paralegal studies from Ivy Tech. She started her career in the legal field at Jones Obenchain in 2012 where she enjoys spending time reviewing medical records along with her other paralegal duties.

Justine currently resides in Elkhart where she lives with her husband of 24 years and her two children. She is very active in her local church where she is director of children’s ministries. In her spare time she enjoys reading, gardening, and caring for her dogs and cats.

R. Kent Rowe III
Attorney
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R. Kent Rowe, III was born in San Antonio, Texas and grew up in South Bend, Indiana. Admitted to the State Bar of Indiana 1981 and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Chicago, Illinois in 1984. His litigation-based practice concentrates on the handling of professional liability cases, including medical, surgical error, optometric, and chiropractic malpractice defense, traumatic brain injury and neuropsychological injury litigation, as well as motor vehicle/motorcycle collision cases and premises liability. He received a B.A. degree in Psychology in 1978 from Indiana University (Bloomington), and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Tulane University (New Orleans) in 1981. Mr. Rowe is “AV” rated in Martindale-Hubbell and has been listed in each edition of Naifeh and Smith’s “The Best Lawyers in America” since 1997. Mr. Rowe has also been selected as an “Indiana Superlawyer” from 2004 to 2007. (See, www.superlawyers.com/Indianapolis Monthly Magazine, March 2004-2007). Mr. Rowe is the author of “Effective Jury Selection – Principles and Practice”; ICLEF Seminar May, 2000. He is currently a member of the St. Joseph County and Indiana State Bar Associations, Defense Research Institute. Formerly a member of the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana, and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA).

Kent practiced law with his father, R. Kent Rowe, Sr. for over 30 years, and most recently, as a partner and principal at Rowe & Rowe in South Bend, Indiana. He has been with Jones Obenchain since October, 2016.

His interests include; racquetball, weight lifting/fitness, microwave cooking, Roman Classical History, guitar and drums, travel and, supporting Doctors Without Borders, CARE, and The World Food Organization.

Ashlie M. Collier
Attorney
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Ashlie grew up just outside of South Bend in North Liberty, Indiana. Born and raised in Northern, Indiana, Ashlie has a heart for helping the community in which she was raised by providing strong legal advocacy to the people and businesses of this area.

Her practice areas are pretty broad, but she enjoyed studying Intellectual Property in law school. Ashlie has a real passion for small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit and likes to translate her legal skills into helping people take the American dream of business ownership into a reality. Other interesting areas of the law that she enjoys are not-for-profit law and entertainment law. Ashlie participated in the Notre Dame Intellectual Property Pro Bono clinic while in law school.
Before Ashlie became a lawyer, she worked in various advocacy roles for children with cognitive disabilities in both specialized treatment clinics and area schools.

Ashlie and her husband are active in their church community, have three children and a dog and reside in Wakarusa, Indiana.

Alex B. Bowling
Attorney
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Alex was born in Louisville, Kentucky where almost all of his huge extended family still lives. His father is one of ten children and his mother one of nine children.

After graduating from the University of Dayton in 2011, Alex moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked as Senator Mitch McConnell’s personal assistant.

He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School class of 2016. While attending law school, Alex clerked for the Honorable John Heyburn III in the Western District of Kentucky and worked at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Louisville.
In his spare time, Alex enjoys fishing and other outdoor sports and activities. He is an avid sports fan and follows the University of Louisville and Notre Dame athletics religiously.
Alex and his wife Randi were married in June of 2016 and now reside in South Bend.

Brittney Cave
Paralegal
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Brittney K. Cave was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. She graduated with a an Associates Degree in Applied Science in 2005. Brittney joined Jones Obenchain, LLP in January of 2013 and brought with her a broad range of legal experience from her 10 years working in the legal field.

On a personal note, Brittney is an avid Notre Dame fan (Go Irish!), loves to cook and enjoys spending family time with her two daughters.