Iowa Lawyer Weekly (10/22/2014)
Share |
October 22, 2014
Past Issues

ISBA President urges members to share judicial performance review results with friends, neighbors

Dear ISBA Members,

As you know, the results for the Judicial Performance Review are out. You may have noticed your local paper writing about the results and that The Iowa State Bar Association has recommended all judges be retained. The ISBA has conducted the biennial review since 1962 when the state of Iowa adopted its merit system for selecting judges.

I encourage you to share these results with your friends, neighbors and other members of your communities. All licensed attorneys in Iowa are considered court officers and ambassadors for the court, and any member can do his or her part by encouraging others to retain the judges up for retention.

You can do this by simply referring them to the ISBA website at The results are posted on the bottom of the homepage, or you can share a direct link: The judicial review page provides a wealth of information to aid Iowans in making an informed decision Nov. 4.

I appreciate the efforts of the attorneys who completed the survey last month so that we could compile this information to educate Iowans. I also appreciate everyone sharing this information to help Iowans understand the judicial retention system.

Thank you for your help, and for the opportunity to serve as your president.

Joseph M. Feller
The Iowa State Bar Association
P.O. Box 37, Sibley, Iowa 51249

The ISBA Celebrates Pro Bono Month: Volunteer to Take a Case

The ISBA is joining the ABA’s annual Pro Bono Celebration this October. The best way to celebrate pro bono is to take cases and do the work, according to the ISBA Public Service Project. Therefore, the ISBA is embarking on an endeavor with a grand aspirational goal: All clients waiting for volunteers will get attorneys to assist them.

A list of all cases that are currently waiting to be placed by one of the Volunteer Lawyer Programs in the state is compiled here. Attorneys are encouraged to take one of the more than 170 cases awaiting attention.

The ISBA recognized more than 50 lawyers in the October issue of the Iowa Lawyer magazine who donated 50 or more hours of pro bono in the last year. Additionally, attorneys who provided any pro bono time in the last year were identified here.

Every attorney can make a difference in the life of one person who is seeking access to justice. Collectively as a profession, attorneys are joining together and recommitting themselves to serving the needs of Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens.

Those interested in donating pro bono time should contact Brett Toresdahl, the ISBA Public Service Project director, at or 515-697-6881.

ISBA isolates compromised email

Earlier this week, a suspicious email went out to the Probate list serve. The ISBA Information Technology Department was in contact with the originating firm who verified that an employee’s email account was compromised.

The member was a legitimate member of the section, and therefore the list serve simply forwarded the message as normal. However, the server’s spam and virus filter screened the illegal ZIP attachment, replacing it with a benign text attachment. If anyone on the list attempted to open the attachment, the member would have received a message about the removed attachment.

Several members reported the suspicious email, and the firm is working to resolve the issue. Until there is a satisfactory resolution, the violating email address has been removed from the list serve and members should disregard the post.

Anyone who notices suspicious activity within the list serve should contact the ISBA's IT Department immediately at or 515-697-6891.

U of I students told about the benefits of rural practice

Sixteen University of Iowa College of Law students gathered last Friday for an hour-long presentation and question and answer session on what it’s like to practice in rural communities. The presentation was made by Phil Garland and Amy Skogerson, co-chairs of the ISBA’s Rural Practice Committee.

"Clients want us to hire people in our offices. They don’t want to go elsewhere for their legal needs,” Garland, a long-time attorney in Garner, told the students. He explained why it’s important for the legal profession in Iowa to take on the responsibility of attracting new, young lawyers to rural practice as current lawyers in those practices retire.

Skogerson, who has a solo practice in Van Meter, told the students that new and exciting aspects of law practice are emerging that fit well in rural practice. Two of those new opportunities are collaborative law and mediation.

The ISBA’s Rural Practice Committee, created in 2010, has as its primary initiative a summer clerkship program whereby mostly 1L and 2L students spend 10 weeks during the summer working with rural practitioners to get a taste of law practice in rural communities. The goal is for those students to choose a rural practice when they graduate and are admitted to the Iowa Bar.

More information about the summer clerkship program, including frequently asked questions, can be found on the ISBA website. To be taken directly to the information, click here. To reach the information from the website, click on "Rural Practice” under the "Committees & Section” tab in the gold bar near the top of the homepage.

ISBA Report: Membership density in top 125 Iowa cities

The ISBA membership department recently ran an interesting report of membership density in Iowa’s top 125 cities. The list displays the top 125 populated cities in Iowa and its corresponding ISBA member density as of October 2014. The full report can be found here.

Amortization Schedule Calculator

A bar association member recently recommended a calculator for loan or contract payments. The calculator has a lot of useful features such as calculating regular loan payments for any frequency, not just monthly. Compounding frequency may be set separately from payment frequency. The calculator also can calculate and show the dollar value of the points being charged.

A link to this calculator is posted on the webpages for the Real Estate & Title Law Section and the General Practice Section of the ISBA for future reference. The calculator can also be viewed directly, here.

In Other News...

With Farms Fading and Urban Might Rising, Power Shifts in Iowa
Pocahontas is running out of students. Public school enrollment in this corn-blanketed county in northern Iowa has plummeted 32 percent over the past decade as the population steadily shrinks. Schools have merged, classes have combined, and sports teams have consolidated, wiping out generations of tradition and rivalry.
The New York Times

Legal Aid eyes some extra spice for funding
Dubuque's Legal Aid office hopes a chili cook-off fundraiser Saturday will help generate more revenue as the organization grapples with continued federal funding cuts. The Dubuque Young Lawyers, part of the Dubuque County Bar Association, will host a chili cook-off at 3 p.m. Saturday at Courtside Sports Bar & Grill. Proceeds will benefit the Dubuque office of Iowa Legal Aid. The group has hosted an annual fundraiser for the agency for several years.
Telegraph Herald

Disbarred Cedar Rapids lawyer pleads guilty to wire fraud in federal court
A Cedar Rapids disbarred attorney who stole more than $800,000 from clients pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud Monday in U.S. District Court. Susan Hense, 54, faces up to 20 years in federal prison and agreed in the plea deal to pay $837,011 in restitution to 15 former clients. Some of those clients attended the hearing but declined to comment afterward. Some did say they might want to comment at a later time, after they had talked to Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Morfitt, who is prosecuting the case.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette

U.S. Supreme Court: "There's far more agreement than is commonly understood"
Has the U.S. Supreme Court become a partisan institution? According to polls, many Americans think so. On this episode of River to River, a discussion on the politics and perception of the Supreme Court with Anthony Gaughan, of Drake University, who argues that decline in the public’s faith in the court is not a fair assessment.
Iowa Public Radio

Post Traumatic Stress
These days it is so common to hear about PTSD, in relation to veterans, that one might think that it is really only a big concern for veterans. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is actually what its name implies, a disorder occurring after trauma and that can include a variety of traumas, such as combat, bullying, disasters, terrorism, abuse, and often car accidents. Dr. Daniel G. Amen of the Amen Clinics states that the traumatic event can be experienced, witnessed in person, something that happens to someone close to you, or simply come from being exposed to graphic details over and over.
The Legal Examiner

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.


No. 13–0665

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Karen A. Romano, Judge.

An employee seeks further review of a court of appeals decision reversing her award of benefits by the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMED IN PART AND VACATED IN PART; JUDGMENT OF DISTRICT COURT AFFIRMED IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART, AND CASE REMANDED



Lockton - Professional Liability Insurance

It is vital that firms have Professional Liability coverage in place. Not having coverage can put a firm at risk. That’s why The Iowa State Bar Association partnered with Lockton Risk Services to develop the ISBA Insurance Program. Developed under the guidance of ISBA, the program offers the professional liability coverage Iowa law firms need to protect their practices at competitive rates that may not be available anywhere else.The ISBA Insurance Program is designed specifically with you in mind and offers:
  • Competitive Rates
  • Comprehensive Policy Form, including unique coverage extensions
  • Access to Unparalleled Loss Prevention & Risk Management Service
  • Outstanding Customer Service Insurance with a Company Rated "A” by A.M. Best

Click here to get started!