Mark Nicholson served his country, then served time, but rose out of homelessness to grow to be a top rated lawyer in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS — From dwelling below a bridge off Meridian Road to currently being named a 2020 Elite Lawyer, Mark Nicholson said he realized he experienced to surround himself with supporters and good influences in buy to increase to his destiny.

At the age of 32, Nicholson enrolled in regulation university. He said his age gave him a distinctive standpoint.  

“Some of the youthful pupils may perhaps have thought this was the most demanding matter they experienced at any time confronted,” said Nicholson. “I had by now been via a large amount of challenges.”

As an Army and Countrywide Guard veteran, a single of these issues happened in the course of Nicholson’s 3 decades in the armed forces.  

“Being in Panama, not understanding if you ended up likely to get shot or killed,” said Nicholson.  

He stated that much less than a 12 months right after coming house, he “was charged in 1991 with murder and convicted of voluntary manslaughter.” 

“Prison was not a welcoming natural environment. Individuals had been remaining killed, there have been medications,” said Nicholson.  

He explained he served 12 years at the rear of bars.  

“Being long gone for so extensive and then staying introduced, with I think, at the time they gave you $70, which is all I had,” explained Nicholson.  

With just $70, Nicholson was homeless, “living below a bridge outdoor, off of Meridian.” 

But he wasn’t giving up. 

“When you’re at the base, they say the only (other) way is up. So I knew at some issue, my lifestyle was heading to make improvements to as extensive as I retain performing at it,” said Nicholson.  


Having handle of his daily life

Nicholson stated he manufactured the mindful decision and work to surround himself with a beneficial support program.

“When things are lousy, a person can be a negative impact and says, ‘Things are undesirable, yeah, give up.’ But when you have a positive community, people can really encourage you to preserve battling, keep preventing and get the job done to make improvements to by yourself,” claimed Nicholson.  

He said that he discovered toughness via his religion and decided to search for operate knowledge.  

“I did not have a position, so I thought, ‘I need to have job expertise,’” stated Nicholson. “So I contacted the ACLU of Indiana and requested if there was just about anything I could do.”

He reported he did not disclose to them at the time that he was homeless.  


The Thriller Angel

Then one working day, he said he noticed a man handing out flyers and asking for revenue. Nicholson stated folks have been just strolling past the gentleman, ignoring him. Nicholson made a decision to grab 1 of the flyers. It was for HVAF, a domestically-dependent business that supplies assistance and providers for homeless veterans and veterans at hazard of homelessness.  

He reported he termed HVAF, who reported they did not have any one standing handing out flyers, but that they could assistance him. To this day, Nicholson refers to the mystery person as his angel. 

Nicholson before long landed an appointment for transitional housing with HVAF. The appointment was at the Horizon Property. Nicholson’s appointment conflicted with his volunteering plan at the ACLU, and he said which is when he told the ACLU place of work he required to make an appointment at the Horizon House for transitional housing. He stated Kenneth Falk informed him he experienced no strategy Nicholson was homeless and that he inspired him to be guaranteed to make the appointment.  

It’s obvious that Falk was a major impact on Nicholson’s daily life, simply because Nicholson utilizes the ACLU of Indiana’s legal director’s name practically interchangeably with the firm.  

Nicholson mentioned it was as a result of the aid of corporation like HVAF, the Horizon Household and the ACLU of Indiana where he volunteered, that he was able to find that favourable supportive community he was hoping to create.


“The 1st two several years of law faculty, I was homeless”

Nicholson reported he just can’t exactly clarify what drew him to law. 

“I just felt God place it on my coronary heart to go to legislation university,” reported Nicholson. He explained he didn’t improve up wanting to be a attorney, but a little something named him to legislation. And when it did, he let go, took a leap of religion and enrolled in regulation university. 

“I did not have any contacts, did not know any legal professionals. I went to the IU McKinney Faculty of Law and built get in touch with with Professor Mary Mitchell, and that was the commencing of my journey to law college,” reported Nicholson. “The initial two decades of regulation university, I was homeless.”

Although using evening classes at legislation school, Nicholson commenced doing work all through the day. He said he picked up a element-time career at Marshalls and then at some point worked as a bailiff at the Marion County Courtroom. He explained he would get a bus to his transitional housing. 

“Living in (HVAF’s) transitional housing, I built the dean’s checklist for a semester, second year I was course president and the final 12 months they voted me as the graduation speaker,” explained Nicholson.  

Though Nicholson under no circumstances knew he was going to be a lawyer, on the lookout back again on his everyday living, it seems as nevertheless his present-day profession route was constantly section of his future.  

“When I think back to my time in jail and currently being what they contact a ‘lay advocate’ and representing men and women in jail, to filing all these grievances, to performing at ACLU, all that, it was like God was making ready me for my calling now as an attorney,” mentioned Nicholson.  


2020 Elite Lawyer

Nicholson said his ordeals make him the lawyer he is these days. 

“Being homeless and heading to law school gave me a unique point of view than some of my classmates,” and now a distinctive perspective as a lawyer. 

“Everybody has a tale, and I can comprehend some of the trials and tribulations they’re heading by way of,” reported Nicholson. “Because of that practical experience of what I bring to it, which is why I fight so really hard for my purchasers. That is why I really don’t want to give up. Which is why I consider in them.

“And I know no make any difference what they’ve performed or what they’ve been accused of and may not have even done, they can change their everyday living about and do very good for this nation, for this community, for themselves,” said Nicholson.   

This 12 months, Nicholson was named a 2020 Elite Attorney

“It reveals you how great The usa is, in spite of all the discrimination, racism, jail, homelessness, there’s however prospect for us to excel in existence and overcome obstacles. My tale is just an instance of what we can do when we set our mind to it, have faith and have a great aid community,” he claimed.