Attorney Erin L. Connell is a top-rated attorney with more than 13 years of legal experience and co-founding and managing partner of Connell Michael Kerr, LLP. Ms. Connell devotes her practice primarily to family law, and she provides exceptional counsel and support to clients throughout the greater Indianapolis metro and surrounding areas who are going through divorces or have other serious legal issues affecting their families.
Although she represents clients from all walks of life, Ms. Connell is a veteran of the United States Air Force and she routinely works with service members and their families in their divorce and family law situations. As a former Captain in the United States Air Force, she fully understands the unique and specialized needs military families have and she is able to more readily connect with them and assist them through their struggles while devising effective solutions and strategies to help them achieve their goals.
As further evidence of her versatility as an attorney, along with her extensive trial experience, Ms. Connell is also trained in mediation and collaborative law to be able to provide a variety of options to her clients. Whether inside or outside the courtroom, Ms. Connell remains completely devoted to protecting her clients' rights and best interests at all turns, and she has gained a reputation for compassion and integrity as well as her aggressive approach when necessary at helping her clients achieve the positive results that they expect and deserve as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
From her efforts, Ms. Connell has earned consistent top rankings and endorsements from her peers, including five-star peer reviews on Martindale-Hubbell and being selected as an Indiana "Super Lawyer" for multiple years. She has also received numerous testimonials and referrals from her satisfied clients, and she finds great reward in being able to help so many in her area during some of the most difficult and uncertain times of their lives.
A 1998 graduate of the Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, Ms. Connell obtained her bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a minor in Aerospace Studies. After graduation, Ms. Connell was commissioned an officer in the United States Air Force and obtained her Master's Degree of Public Administration from Troy State University in 2000. Upon deciding to pursue her legal career, she obtained her Juris Doctorate from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 2007. She is admitted to practice and has practiced before most Indiana state courts as well as before the U.S. District Court for the Southern and Northern Districts of Indiana.
Along with handling all aspects of family law, Ms. Connell also has extensive experience handling other civil and criminal litigation matters. More specifically, Ms. Connell has assisted clients and families in medical malpractice and wrongful death claims and also handled cases involving products liability, commercial litigation and other tortious claims for her clients.
Catherine M. Michael is licensed and practices throughout the state of Indiana, Texas, and Michigan. She represents students and their families in a variety of education and personal injury matters including Special Education Due Process, Section 504 matters, expulsion, disciplinary issues, personal injury of children including injury, sexual abuse, molestation, and rape cases both in and out of school environments, private school issues and discipline as well as other civil rights and disability claims experienced by students. She possesses extensive knowledge regarding special education due process, teacher and student discipline and dismissal matters, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), personal injury of children in schools, and other civil rights matters.
Catherine Michael has been featured hundreds of times in both the national and local media. She is a frequent guest on syndicated radio and television shows for her education law expertise. Her nearly two decade career in education has focused on ensuring that the needs of children in schools are met. She has represented school shooting victims, children abused in school, and hundreds of special needs children who families needed a voice.
Sonja D. Kerr is a skilled special education attorney with over thirty years of practice at all levels, due process, federal and state courts, and the appellate courts. Ms. Kerr has litigated individual cases as well as class actions.
Ms. Kerr has had the pleasure of representing students with a wide variety of disabilities, including autism, language-impairments, Tourette's Syndrome, hearing impairment/deafness, learning disabilities/dyslexia, blind/visually impaired, ADHD/ADD, and children with emotional disturbance and children with a variety of physical disabilities.
Ms. Kerr has brought various cases against the state educational agency. In Indiana, she successfully represented parents in due process hearings and also challenged the state's due process system in federal court. H.H. v. Indiana Board of Special Education Appeals, (Indiana 2008); M.O. v. Duneland (Indiana 2009). Ms. Kerr obtained a federal court order sanctioning the attorney general of Nebraska for claiming that the state was immune from suit under the IDEA. Edwards v. Fremont (Nebraska 1994). And in Mississippi, Ms. Kerr sued to keep the state in a case involving the denial of a free appropriate public education to a child with dyslexia. Hill v. Laurel School District (Mississippi 1995).
Ms. Kerr was previously Director of Disability Rights for the prestigious Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia from 2009-2016. While there, Ms. Kerr brought various class actions to protect the rights of children.
Ms. Kerr is admitted to practice in Indiana, Texas, Alaska and Pennsylvania, and is non-practicing in Minnesota. She is also admitted to various federal and circuit courts and the United States Supreme Court.
Jennifer Hostetter is an attorney focused in the areas of family law, assisted reproduction, estate planning and criminal defense. Jennifer is also a registered domestic relations mediator, parenting coordinator and Guardian ad Litem. Jennifer is a member of the Indiana State Bar Association, Indianapolis Bar Association, Hamilton County Bar Association, Boone County Bar Association, California State Bar Association, and American Bar Association; and currently serves on the Boone County Community Corrections Board and is a Task Force Member for Judge David's annual in-service.
Andy Bartelt is an attorney at Connell Michael Kerr, LLP, where he practices in the areas of family law, criminal defense and civil litigation. Andy is a graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington, where he earned degrees in Economics and Political Science, as well as a minor in Spanish. He also graduated from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and is admitted to practice in all state courts in Indiana and the federal United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Andy has been rated by Indiana Super Lawyers as a "Rising Star" in the legal profession.
Andy is an experienced trial lawyer and primarily focuses his practice in family law, representing clients in family law matters including divorce, legal separation, child custody, child support, parenting time, post-decree enforcement, post-decree modifications, guardianships, adoptions, paternity, emancipations, spousal maintenance, relocations, protective orders, grandparent rights, and other family law issues. In addition to his practice in family law, Andy is also experienced in civil litigation and criminal defense matters.
Andy is trained in collaborative law, an increasingly popular alternative to litigation, and he is a Board Member of the Central Indiana Association of Collaborative Professionals and member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.
U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana, 2012
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Indianapolis, Indiana
Indiana University-Bloomington, Indiana
Major: Political Science
Challenges in Family Law, Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, 2019
Family Law Start to Finish, National Business Institute, 2019
Advanced Issues in Family and Divorce Law, National Business Institute, 2018
Gatekeeping by Custodial Parents, National Business Institute, 2017
Honors and Awards
Rated as a "Rising Star" by Indiana Super Lawyers 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
Professional Associations and Memberships
Central Indiana Association of Collaborative Professionals, Board Member
Hamilton County Bar Association, Member
Hendricks County Bar Association, Member
Indiana State Bar Association, Member
Indianapolis Bar Association, Member
Dayna Friduss is an attorney within the Education Law Division. Since 2017, she has represented many families with their special education needs, primarily in the areas of discipline, identification, IEP implementation and a variety of other special education matters, including filing and resolving due process hearing complaints against public school districts throughout the state of Georgia. Dayna is the mother of two beautiful boys, one of whom was diagnosed with autism. As a result of his diagnosis and her refusal to settle for the grave predictions she was given for her son's future, Ms. Friduss immersed herself in the world of treatment for autism spectrum disorder and began her Education Law career advocating on his behalf within the public school system. Prior to Dayna's move into Education law, she worked as an insurance defense attorney, and as an insurance claims professional, and as a result she has an extensive background in litigation, mediation, and conflict resolution.
Dayna has received training in special education law at the Institute of Special Education Advocacy at William and Mary Law School and is also a member of the Counsel of Parent, Attorneys and Advocates. She graduated from Georgia State University Law School, cum laude, and has been a member of the Georgia Bar since 2003. Dayna was a Colorado native who earned degrees in Psychology and Business Administration at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Carla Leader is an attorney with the Indiana and Ohio Education Law Division of Connell Michael Kerr. She brings nearly 20 years of experience focused in representation and protection of children's legal and civil rights. She works with clients throughout the State of Indian and Ohio in special education due process, Section 504, student expulsion, Section 1983, ADA, and other federal and education law matters.
Carla graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in Psychology and Women's Studies. She completed law school at American University Washington College of Law. After law school she clerked for Judge Ronna Lee Beck in D.C. Superior Court between 2000-2001 and then worked for the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia prosecuting child abuse and neglect cases. She then worked with Legal Aid and ran her own law firm for many years. Her focus on representation of children is not only a profession but a personal calling. She has been featured in the media multiple times for her work. She has a podcast Parental Guidance with Catherine Michael that focuses on educational needs and law.
Michelle McGuire is an attorney with the Education Law Division with more than 15 years of experience focused in education law. She is licensed in Indiana and Ohio and works to ensure representation of families in Ohio in special education due process, Section 504, student expulsion, Section 1983, federal litigation and other education law matters. She earned her law degree from Cleveland State Marshall College of Law and her undergraduate from Bowling Green State University. After being licensed to practice law in 2003, she was admitted to the Ohio Northern District Court. Her office is located in Olmsted Falls, Ohio and she works with CMK to represent clients throughout the State of Ohio.
Steve Elmlinger brings more than 20 years of family law paralegal experience to our team. He works closely with all of our attorneys to help us provide the level of attention and detail that our clients have come to expect. Mr. Elmlinger also works within the education law division to assist parents with advocacy.
Sarah Chapman brings a decade of paralegal experience to our firm. She works with both the family law and education divisions. Ms. Chapman is a graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington with Bachelor's Degree of Applied Health Science in Human Development and Family Studies with minors in Public Health, Psychology, and Sociology.
Devin Elmlinger is a Paralegal and Client Relations Specialist with CMK. Devin graduated from Indiana University - Bloomington with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor in Spanish, and she brings with her to CMK the experience of having worked in the medical field for the last several years. In addition to her roles with the Family Law and Education Law divisions of CMK, Devin's education and experience make her an integral part of our firm's Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death and Personal Injury divisions.
Pat has an A.S. and a B.A. in Paralegal Studies from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, where she graduated magna cum laude. She is an Indiana Registered Paralegal and an affiliate member of the Indiana Bar and the American Bar Associations. A well-known Parent Advocate with over 40 years of experience in education advocacy for special needs families, Ms. Howey is indispensable to our education law team. Ms. Howey works with our attorneys in Indiana, Texas, and Michigan to review documents, spot issues, draft due process complaints, prepare for hearings, and assist at hearings. Her duties also include assisting with federal court cases.
Lori Elmlinger brings a diverse background of education advocacy. She works in the Education Law Division and assists on legislative and government issues that face families of children with special needs. She works with the education law team on a number of educational matters - including assisting in Due Process Ms. Elmlinger attended Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis.
Lyndsey Gillespie brings a background of advocacy and passion for helping parents navigate special education in the school system. She works with the education law team assisting with matters such as due process complaints. Ms. Gillespie is a member of COPAA and has a BA in history and minor in psychology from Ball State University.
Lynn Keegan, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, GAHN, FAAN, is a PhD nurse consultant who works in the medical malpractice and personal injury divisions of Connell Michael Kerr, LLP. Dr. Keegan served on faculties of 4 major universities recently retiring as a professor from University of Texas, Health Science Center in San Antonio. During her career she authored or co-authored 23 books and contributed many textbook chapters, articles, and scores of professional journal publications as well as presenting keynote addresses in numerous countries throughout the world. She now works on assessing medical claims, needs, and damages in cases with our team.