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    October 14, 2015
Past Issues  

Updated Probate Clerk’s manual now available

The probate manual used by clerks in the performance of their duties related to most probate actions has been updated and is available on the ISBA website. The manual covers the overall categories of general definitions relevant to probate, jurisdiction of the probate court, appointment of attorneys and probate powers of the clerk.


It also addresses the specific categories of estates, conservatorships, guardianships and trusts. Fees and costs, appeals of a probate case, delinquency tables by type and a section on troubleshooting are also included.


To access the manual, click here, or go to "Sections” under the "Member Groups” tab on the ISBA website, then scroll down to "Probate, Trust & Estate Planning.”

What to do about health insurance coverage

The state bar association has learned that, due to provisions in the Affordable Care Act and a determination from Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield to discontinue the "groups of one” coverage, a small number of bar association members will be losing their group insurance status.


The ISBA’s endorsed health insurance broker, Reynolds & Reynolds, Inc., is able to assist members faced with this situation in finding alternatives. There are a number of options for members to consider.


Open enrollment for individuals begins Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 31, 2016. This is the only time for individuals to enroll in new plans, or to make changes to existing plans.


If you currently have a "group of one” insurance plan, please feel free to contact Kristi Vargus Rullestad or Dave Fini at 855-870-4261 for assistance. More information about the services offered can be found on the ISBA website at the Member Benefits tab under "Practice Tools.”

Senate Judiciary Committee field hearing sheds light on evolving meth challenges

Yesterday, a panel of Iowans shared their first-hand experiences in the fight against meth, raising the profile of the drug’s evolving threat to communities at a Senate Judiciary Committee field hearing in Des Moines hosted by Chairman Chuck Grassley. Testimony from law enforcement officials, public policy experts and drug treatment providers shed light on the scourge of meth in Iowa and the challenges it presents.
The hearing highlighted not only the seriousness of the meth problem, but also the possibility of redemption with the right intervention and support, according to chairman Grassley. He went on to say that while meth use is not limited to Iowa, the witnesses at the hearing are helping Congress better understand the situations that many states and communities face.

Testifying at the hearing were: Denise Moore, a former meth addict who now works to rebuild families whose children have been removed; Steve Lukan, the director of Iowa’s Office of Drug Control Policy; Paul Fedderson, the assistant director of the Division of Narcotics Enforcement within Iowa’s Department of Public Safety; Lieutenant Corbin Payne of the Tri-County Drug Enforcement Task Force; and Jay Hansen, the executive director of Prairie Ridge Addictions Treatment Services in Mason City. To read the witnesses’ written testimonies as well as Grassley’s opening remarks, click here.

The hearing record will remain open for submissions of written testimonies until 5 p.m. EST, Friday, October 23. Written testimony may be submitted to Jason Covey via email at


Family Law Seminar set for Oct. 29-30

The ISBA’s 2015 Family Law Seminar to be held Oct. 29-30 at the West Des Moines Marriott will feature several presentations on technology for solo and small firms in addition to topics more specifically related to family law.


Ben Stevens will discuss "Technology for Solos and Small Firms” from 10:15 to 11:45 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29. He will also present "Ethical Marketing for Solos and Small Firms in the Internet Era” from 2:30 to 4 p.m. the same day.


Topics related specifically to family law include "The Benefits and Pitfalls of the Guardian Ad Litem in Parenting Disputes,” "Organizing Your Case to Keep Equitable Distribution Simple,” "Advice on Working with Domestic Violence Victims in Your Office and in Court,” and "Expert Advice on How to Deal with Parental Alienation in Family Law Cases.” The Juvenile Law track Friday morning includes "An Overview of PL 113-183, Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014.”


To register for the seminar, click here. Early bird registration ends Wednesday, Oct. 28. After that date, a $50 late fee will be added to the registration fee amount.

Consider taking a pro bono case during October Pro Bono Celebration Month

October is the ISBA’s annual Pro Bono Celebration Month. The celebration provides an opportunity for members of The Iowa State Bar Association to commemorate the contributions of Iowa's lawyers, and to focus attention on the legal work lawyers do in their communities that improves the lives of their friends and neighbors.


Collectively, bar members can join together and recommit themselves to serving the needs of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Each member can make a difference in the life of one person who is seeking access to justice.


One of the better ways to celebrate pro bono month is to take a case. This helps achieve the grand aspirational goal that every client who is waiting for a volunteer will get an attorney to assist with their case. To accomplish this, members will receive via email a list of cases in their areas waiting to be placed by a volunteer lawyer program. Presently there are more than 150 cases awaiting an attorney’s attention. Please look at the cases emailed to you and consider volunteering for one.

American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa staff attorney position

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa is seeking a full-time staff attorney. The successful candidate will serve as lead counsel or co-counsel on a variety of civil liberties cases; investigate and litigate selected civil liberties and civil rights cases; conduct research, prepare legal memoranda and letters; and advocate for civil liberties.

Applicants may submit a letter of interest, resumé, two professional writing samples of no longer than seven pages each, and three professional references to Jeremy Rosen at Applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis and will be accepted until the position is filled. For more information about the position and application process, click here.

Iowa Title Guaranty Fall Conference, Nov. 12

The 2015 Iowa Title Guaranty Fall Conference will be held Nov. 12 at the Prairie Meadows Event Center in Altoona, Iowa.


Conference highlights will include timely updates on a variety of topics for real estate attorneys and real estate settlement professionals, including an examination of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new rules, which took effect recently. Those rules integrated various elements of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the Truth in Lending Act. The session offers an examination of the CFPB’s enforcement authority and structure, and how it interacts with and complements the state regulatory agencies and areas of focus since implementation.


Other presentations include "Purchase Agreement Essentials for Commercial Transactions,” "Industry Hot Topics,” and an ethics panel.


For more information about the agenda, click here. To register, click here.


In Other News ...

Editorial: Restore the right to vote for all Iowa felons
A year ago the Iowa Supreme Court issued a splintered decision on Iowans’ constitutional voting rights that left an important question for a future case. Such a case appears headed to the court, and it could restore this fundamental right to thousands of Iowans.
The Des Moines Register

Iowa's open records law on body camera footage murky, expert says
Judy Bradshaw hopes Iowa lawmakers take a deliberate, cautious approach to writing new state laws regarding what kinds of police body camera footage should be available to the public. Jeff Danielson hopes a new state policy arrives sooner than later, but realistically, he thinks it is unlikely.

U.S. Courts temporarily block implementation of WOTUS: Groups respond
Iowa Farm Bureau members are encouraged by the news that today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a temporary stay of the EPA's "Waters of the U.S." (WOTUS) rule nationwide, effectively blocking its implementation until further court action.

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.



ISBA members who have been admitted to the bar for five or fewer years may view any, or all, of the ISBA’s on-demand video courses free. This member benefit is designed to help young attorneys gain knowledge and learn from the experiences of presenters who have insights into specific areas of the law.

There are nearly 30 on-demand video courses listed on the ISBA website. All qualify for varying levels of CLE credit that may be applied to the annual 15-hour-per-year requirement. However, the Iowa Supreme Court limits the number of CLE hours that can be obtained from on-demand video courses to six hours in a year.

To view the ISBA’s on-demand catalog listing all courses available, click here.

See more ISBA member benefits here



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