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March 25, 2015
Past Issues

Message from President Feller calls for contact with legislators

ISBA President Joe Feller encourages members to contact their local legislators about the association’s legislative proposals in this three and one-half minute video. Feller urges each member to discuss legislative matters most important to their practice with local legislators.

Feller’s message focuses on legislative initiatives to increase the hourly rate attorneys receive for representing indigent defendants and resist the elimination of the judicial residency requirement. In addition, Feller discusses the bar’s efforts related to probate court costs and improved courthouse security.

View the complete video here, or click the image above.

Foundations for Practice Survey reminder

The ISBA sent a reminder email to all in-state ISBA members March 23 containing survey information for the Foundations for Practice project. The study is an ambitious effort to determine what law graduates need in order to launch successful careers in the legal profession, create models of legal education to better fulfill those needs and identify tools legal employers can use to make better hiring decisions.

The Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Initiative of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, is conducting the study. The views of ISBA members are essential to this study. Members are invited to complete the survey via the link in the email. Please complete the survey no later than Sunday, March 29, and contribute your expertise to this important endeavor.

Authors of Iowa courthouse photo-book seek funding

The authors of Prairie Jewels – Iowa’s Courthouses are seeking crowd-source funding for their 210-page book. The book boasts the architectural diversity and historical significance of Iowa’s 100 courthouses.

A project that eventually developed into a compilation of visual mastery and informational literature features the 100 Iowa courthouses in panoramic images and researched narratives. A preview for the book is available online here.

Authors David Richmond and Michael Adams have established a Kickstarter campaign allowing people to pledge various dollar amounts, starting at $50, to support their campaign. If their goal of $5,000 is met by the April 27 deadline, each pledge will act as a pre-order for variations of the book and courthouse prints.

Learn more about the project by visiting the Prairie Jewels – Iowa’s Courthouses webpage and Facebook page. Interested parties can pledge their support and purchase the first edition of the book by donating to the Kickstarter campaign.

Richmond is a professor of art at Simpson College and has enjoyed wide-ranging experiences in graphic design, photography and visual storytelling over his 30-year professional career. Adams has been a writer, photographer, speechwriter and editor during a rewarding career in journalism, public relations and marketing.


Grefe Pro Bono Publico Award request for nominees

The Rolland E. Grefe Pro Bono Publico Award is awarded annually to an attorney who has enhanced the human dignity of others by improving or delivering pro bono legal services for those who for one reason or another are unable to afford a lawyer. Any member of The Iowa State Bar Association is eligible for nomination. The selection committee is asking that you nominate an attorney who would be a fitting recipient of this year’s award.

The award recipient will be selected based on commitment to pro bono publico and the delivery of legal services to the low-income Iowans in their community and around the state. The award will be presented at the ISBA Annual Meeting’s President’s Awards Banquet June 17.

Send your nominations along with a brief description to Brett Toresdahl, the ISBA Public Service Project Executive Director, via email at no later than April 10.

New 'You and the Law' video released focuses on legal fees

The Podcast Sub-committee of the Public Relations Committee recently released their newest "You and the Law” video regarding legal fees. The video is a helpful guide for attorneys to share with clients who have questions about the determination of legal fees for specific legal needs. Senior Iowa District Court Judge Donna L. Paulsen describes how reasonable legal fees are determined and provides specific examples of fee arrangements commonly associated with various types of legal matters.

The video was posted on the ISBA’s YouTube channel, here. Other videos can be found under the public resources section on the ISBA website or by clicking here.

The informational multimedia products produced by various sections and committees are meant to be used by attorneys who want to offer basic information to clients on various topics. They are not an attempt to provide legal advice. The ISBA encourages viewers to consult with an attorney regarding legal matters to ensure their rights and interests are protected.

For questions or comments regarding the "You and the Law” series, contact Chris Fritz at 515-697-7873 or

In Other News ...

Iowa courthouses work to beef up security statewide
Larry "Buck” Koos said he knows for everyone else it was March. But every day for him still is Sept. 9, 2014, the day a man opened fire in the Jackson County Courthouse and Koos stepped up and wrestled him to the ground. "I could never tell anybody else to do what I did that day,” Koos said last week from his home in Maquoketa.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette

Broad exemption to Iowa law shuts down records requests
Did the Iowa State Patrol discipline two supervisors who committed off-duty misconduct? What is a powerful utility executive saying to his bosses at Iowa State University about the director of the Iowa Energy Center? Did an instructor at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy really resign to spend more time with his puppies as he claims? The public will never know. All of those sensitive and potentially embarrassing inquiries were shut down in recent months by government agencies that cited the same legal rationale for keeping citizens in the dark.
The Des Moines Register

What does it take to disbar a lawyer?
From 1973-1976 I worked as the assistant court administrator of the Iowa Supreme Court. My job was to investigate complaints filed against Iowa lawyers for trust account violations and other ethical improprieties. A lawyer can be disbarred for committing the crime of "moral turpitude."
The Des Moines Register

Law school applications set to hit 15-year low
Law schools keep getting less attractive to young professionals, with schools receiving 6.7 percent fewer applications this year than they did in 2014, according to numbers released by the Law School Admission Council on Thursday, March 19. The number of individuals applying has also fallen, by 4.7 percent. If the pace continues as it did last year, the number of people who applied to law school for the Fall 2015 semester will hit its lowest level in 15 years.
Bloomberg Business

Bar exam, the standard to become a lawyer, comes under fire
For decades, law school graduates have endured a stressful rite of passage, spending the first 10 weeks after classes end taking cram courses in the arcane details of the law before sitting down for the grueling, days-long bar exam. Those who do not pass cannot practice law, at least in nearly all the states and the District of Columbia that consider the exam the professional standard. But that standard, so long unquestioned, is facing a new round of scrutiny — not just from the test takers but from law school deans and some state legal establishments. Some states, including Arizona, Iowa and New Hampshire, are exploring or have adopted other options, questioning the wisdom of relying on a single written test as the gateway to legal practice.
The New York Times


The Iowa Lawyer Weekly is an electronic newsletter published every Wednesday. Please submit comments, letters to the editor, articles, or photos, to Contact information should be included with submissions. The ISBA reserves the right to refuse any submission, but will take all submissions into consideration for future publication.


Legislative Report - March 25

March 20, 2015

No. 12–2122

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals. Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D.

Rosenberg, Judge. A criminal defendant challenges his convictions and sentences for first-degree murder and attempt to commit murder. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMED IN PART AND VACATED IN PART; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT AND SENTENCE AFFIRMED.

No. 13–0124

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals. Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Kellyann M. Lekar, Judge.

Property insurer seeks further review of court of appeals decision reversing summary judgment upholding denial of coverage for damage from rainwater spilling from corroded drainpipe that failed during storm. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT


No. 14-1607

On review of the report of the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa. Grievance commission reports respondent committed numerous violations of the rules of professional conduct and recommends suspension. LICENSE SUSPENDED.



Lawyers are expected to meet high professional standards which are set forth in rules adopted by the Iowa Supreme Court. If a lawyer violates an ethics rule, the lawyer may be disciplined.

The Iowa State Bar Association helps its attorneys stay on the right track by providing ethics opinions on a variety of topics that are timely and relevant. A full database from 1966 to the present is searchable and available to members at no cost.