Melissa Proffitt’s career in law spans many industries, but agbioscience stands out to her. This week, the partner-in-charge of client relations at Indianapolis-based law firm Ice Miller joins the Agbioscience podcast to talk about her path to becoming a lawyer, feeding the world and what sets Indiana apart.
“Ag is different, and it’s because of the individuals and that always stands out to me,” Proffitt explained to podcast host and AgriNovus Indiana CEO Mitch Frazier. “You have people that, of course, want to make money for their shareholders and of course want to feed their families, but they are truly driven by the desire to feed the world and to ensure that people are healthy and not hungry. And they really care at the core of what they do.”
Proffitt’s father was a lawyer, and her mom was a nurse. Chemistry in high school proved to be too challenging, so Proffitt pursued the legal path instead of healthcare She earned both her undergraduate and law degrees from Indiana University.
Her goal was to work at a large, downtown law firm which eventually led her to Ice Miller. Proffitt has gone on 17 trade missions and quickly discovered early on that food and agriculture is her passion.
Proffitt recollects during an early mission to Japan, she discovered there was not an Indiana law firm with a big presence in the ag space.
“I didn’t understand why or how that could be the case considering how important it is to our state and to our economy. I came back and said, ‘I wanted to start this agribusiness practice, and the firm was hugely supportive,” said Proffitt.
That’s been 15 years and the now the practice has more than 25 lawyers focusing solely on ag.
There’s no shortage of issues facing the team, Proffitt says. New technologies, more regulation, climate change and shifting consumer preferences are all factors. But data is paramount.
“Data analytics, that’s the biggest evolution of what we’ve seen, which requires much more legal assistance, data privacy, and protecting your assets, more so than ever. It’s not just protecting the machine you’re developing. It’s protecting your private data,” said Proffitt.
Listen to the full conversation Monday morning when the new Agbioscience discussion from AgriNovus Indiana comes out. Also, Inside INdiana Business offers a full lineup of podcasts, hosted by Gerry Dick. Click here to learn more.