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    December 2, 2015
Past Issues   

Important message affecting all solo practitioners

New Iowa Court Rule 39.18 (view here), adopted on Nov. 20, requires all solo practitioners in Iowa to have a succession plan in the event of death or disability in place by March 1, 2016. In light of this new requirement, the Iowa Academy of Trust and Estate Counsel has agreed to join with the ISBA to update the 2011 Solo Practice Succession Planning handbook, and to provide sample forms in Word format for use by those affected by the new rule. President Bruce Walker has designated Immediate Past President Joe Feller to serve as the ISBA liaison for the project.

Upon completion of the updated handbook, which is anticipated to occur in early January, the ISBA will make it available to all bar members in electronic form. While the rule applies only to solo practitioners as defined in 39.18, each solo practitioner must find an attorney willing to serve as the designated attorney and also secure an alternate. The designated attorney and alternate need not be solo practitioners.

The material being prepared should substantially aid those attorneys asked to serve as designated attorneys and alternates in making a knowing assent. In addition, the ISBA will be setting up seminars on this topic to assist solo practitioners in complying with the new rule, and to provide information to potential designated attorneys. It’s anticipated that the Director of the Office of Professional Regulation, Paul Wieck II, will participate in the seminars.

Supreme Court adopts amendments to court rules on professional regulation

On Friday, Nov. 20, the Iowa Supreme Court adopted a number of amendments to several rules in Division III of the Iowa Court Rules, effective Jan. 1, 2016. The adoption followed a period of public comment on the proposed amendments.


A subsequent order on Tuesday, Nov. 24, changed the effective date of new Rule 39.18 to March 1, 2016. New Rule 39.18, which was one of the 10 provisions adopted, requires solo practitioners to file a succession plan (see article at the beginning of this newsletter).


Among the new amendments to the court rules are:


  • Collection of the costs of special trust account audits when conducted based on specified causes, if the audit shows the account was not in substantial compliance with trust account rules;
  • Credit against the legal ethics CLE attendance requirement for instruction regarding bias in the court system and attorney professional relationships;
  • Limited CLE credit for attorneys who prepare written materials and speak or serve on a panel of speakers at accredited CLE events;
  • Investigation procedure by the commission on the unauthorized practice of law.

A summary of the 10 new provisions can be found in the Nov. 20 order here. A complete listing of the rules as amended can be found here.

Request for comment on proposed Iowa Rules of Electronic Filing

The Iowa Supreme Court is requesting comments on proposed amendments to the interim rules pertaining to the use of the electronic document management system in district court. The Honorable Duane Hoffmeyer, Chief Judge of the Third Judicial District of Iowa, chaired a workgroup charged with reviewing the interim electronic filing rules and addressing unresolved, related issues. The final rules will be contained in chapter 16 of the Iowa Court Rules.


The proposed Iowa Rules of Electronic Filing are available here and may be found on the judicial branch website at:


Any interested organization, agency or person may submit comments regarding the proposed amendments. Specific details on how to submit comments can be found here. Comments must be received no later than 4:30 p.m., Feb. 1, 2016.


Reminder: ethics biennium deadline rapidly approaching

The deadline to earn ethics continuing legal education credits within the ethics biennium is rapidly approaching. The Iowa Supreme Court’s Commission on Continuing Legal Education requires lawyers and judges who are in active status to complete a minimum of 15 hours of legal education each year, including three hours of ethics CLE credits some time during the period Jan. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31. Lawyers admitted during 2015 are exempt from the requirement.


The ISBA’s CLE department has compiled a list of upcoming telephone- and webinar-based CLE seminars that provide ethics hours for those who need ethics credit by Dec. 31. To view a complete list of ethics CLE options, click here.


"Taxation Legal Ethics,” approved for 1.5 hours of ethics credit (Iowa) will take place on Dec. 17, from 12 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. via live webinar. The CLE will address some of the most common ethical issues that arise in the representation of clients during the estate and/or business planning process. Included in the discussion will be the defenses to malpractice claims, common areas of liability, the special issues that arise concerning the representation of older or infirm clients and the marketing of estate planning services. For more information or to register for this live webinar, click here.


Additional ethics CLE options include: "Competence in a Client-Lawyer Relationship. Are You Meeting the Ethical Standard?” (Dec. 14), "The Ethics Complaint Process – and Tips to Help You Avoid It Altogether” (Dec. 15), "Unauthorized Practice of Law” (Dec. 16), "Implicit Bias: Know it When You See it, and Learn How to Avoid it” (Dec. 28), "Don’ts: A Review of the Aspirational Rules of Professional Conduct” (Dec. 31). To sign up for any of the CLE opportunities above, click on the CLE titles.


Active attorneys and judges may check their CLE status at the professional regulation website: Individuals who have forgotten their lawyer account passwords may click on "Forgot Password”, then "Get Lost Password”, use the pull-down screen to select "Supreme Court Commissions”, then click "Next” and follow the prompts. Individuals with additional questions may contact the staff of the Office of Professional Regulation at telephone (515) 725-8029 or by email at

Talks commemorate Tinker Armband Protest, Dec. 15

The Roosevelt High School Foundation and Alumni Association will present the first annual Teddy Talks: the 50th anniversary of the Tinker Armband Protest, Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Roosevelt High School Auditorium located at 4419 Center Street, Des Moines, Iowa. The talks commemorate the 50th anniversary of the events resulting in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent School District, which put a spotlight on Des Moines schools and established free speech protections for students.


Dan Johnston, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney in the case, Mary Beth and John Tinker, two of the named plaintiffs, as well as Bruce Clark, a Roosevelt student who helped organize the original action, will offer remarks. A moderator will guide a lively panel discussion with key voices on topics of students’ rights, the legacy of this landmark case and its significance today. The discussion will be open to audience questions before the evening closes with a reception in the Roosevelt cafeteria.


This free event is open to the public. Individuals who would like more information may contact Sherida Kuehler at 515-664-2020 or email at

Iowa District Court judicial clerkship position available

The Fourth Judicial District of Iowa seeks qualified candidates for a law clerk 1 position. The successful candidate will conduct legal research, draft memoranda, prepare case summaries and review opinions at the Pottawattamie County Courthouse in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Applicants should 1) download and complete an application available at the Iowa Judicial Branch website,, "administration” and "career opportunities”, and 2) e-mail the application along with a cover letter, resume, transcript, references and writing sample, to, or send the complete application along with the supporting materials to, District Court Administration, Attn: Kent Wirth, Pottawattamie County Courthouse, Room 413, 227 South Sixth Street, Council Bluffs, Iowa, 51501. Applications will be accepted until noon Jan. 15, 2016.

To read the complete position description, click here. Questions about the position should be directed to Angela Collinson via email at


In Other News ...

Iowa moving toward implementation of a specialized business court
The second annual report on Iowa’s three-year Business Court Pilot Program reflects that the bench and bar thus far are highly satisfied with the experiment and strongly support making a specialized business court a permanent fixture in that state’s judicial system. In this most recent evaluation of the pilot program, Iowa appears to be on-track toward joining two dozen of its sister states that already have established specialized business courts to one degree or another.
JDSupra Business Advisor

If you think a seeming pro se litigant has a lawyer, ask to confirm, ABA ethics opinion says
Lawyers should reduce limited-scope legal representation agreements to writing and should ask pro se litigants whether they are being represented by counsel to avoid violating the "no-contact” rule, explains a formal ethics opinion recently released by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. Formal Ethics Opinion 472 (PDF) addresses the intersection between three model rules: 1.2, 4.2, and 4.3. Rule 1.2(c) provides that lawyers can provide limited-scope legal representation if the limitation is reasonable and the client gives informed consent. The opinion recommends that lawyers confirm such arrangements in writing. Some states require written agreements for limited-scope representations, while other state rules state that such agreements are preferred.
ABA Journal

Kentucky governor restores voting rights to thousands of felons
Weeks before he leaves office, the governor of Kentucky on Tuesday issued an executive order that immediately granted the right to vote to about 140,000 nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences. The order by Gov. Steven L. Beshear, a Democrat, was cheered by advocates for criminal justice reform and civil rights, who said it would place Kentucky’s policy more in line with others across the nation and was consistent with a trend toward easing voting restrictions on former inmates.
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.

November 20

No. 14-0205


On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals. Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Hancock County, Rustin Davenport, Judge.

The court of appeals held that no exceptions to Iowa Code section 625.29(1) applied to preclude an award of attorney fees to Branstad. It reversed the decision of the district court and remanded for a calculation of attorney fees. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS VACATED; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT AFFIRMED.



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