December 20, 2017  Past Issues

Editor's note: There will be no newsletter next Wednesday, Dec. 27, due to the holidays. The next issue will be published on Jan. 3.

ISBA now accepting Iowa Court rule 39.18 designated representative requests

The Iowa State Bar Association is the first bar association to make a new succession planning service available to attorneys in private practice -- those in solo practices as well as those practicing in a firm with other attorneys.

Under the Iowa Court Rule 39.18, Iowa-licensed lawyers must take steps to prepare for their own disability or death. New questions that are related to Rule 39.18 compliance will be included on the Iowa Client Security Commission 2018 Client Security Reports to be filed with the Supreme Court’s Office of Professional Regulation between Dec. 26 and March 10, 2018 without penalty. The new questions include, but are not limited to, the identification and authorization of a “designated representative.”

On Dec. 11, the ISBA Board of Governors authorized The ISBA to serve as a “qualified attorney-servicing association,” for attorneys in private practice for the purposes of meeting the Iowa Court Rule 39.18 designation requirement.

The ISBA is now accepting requests to serve as designated representative from ISBA members. The ISBA reserves the right not to enter into an agreement to serve as a "qualified lawyer servicing association" for the purposes of Court Rule 39.18.

To submit your request for The ISBA to serve as designated representative, review and -- if you qualify and agree -- submit a signed Law Practice Succession Agreement and nominal fee to The ISBA. To review the agreement, click here. Please submit questions via email to

For additional information on The Mandatory Basics of Iowa Court Rule 39.18, by ISBA member Gordon Fisher, click here. For additional resources on Rule 39.18 compliance, please visit the ISBA’s homepage, or click here.

Taking the pulse of solo and small firm attorneys

A newly released study from Thomson Reuters reveals that the majority of respondents to a survey of solo and small-firm lawyers face moderate to significant challenges with things like getting paid by clients, keeping up with competition from other firms and a lack of internal efficiency.

What's more, writes Robert Ambrogi at his LawSites blog, only 20 to 33 percent said they have made changes to address specific challenges, although many said they have plans to do so but have not implemented them yet.

The study polled more than 300 law firms ranging in size from solos to 29 attorneys. Several of the challenges, such as acquiring new client business, were the same regardless of the size of the practice.

When it comes to progress in making helpful changes, is there a difference between solos and small firms? In some areas, yes. The greatest gulf is in addressing the increasing complexity of technology. While only 31 percent of solos are addressing this challenge in any way, 60 percent of 2-6 lawyer firms and 64 percent of 7-29 lawyer firms are addressing it.

Read more at Ambrogi’s blog.

ISBA Rural Practice Committee to host fourth Meet and Greet, Jan. 27

The ISBA’s Rural Practice Committee has set Saturday, Jan. 27, as the date for its fourth annual Meet and Greet, which brings together rural attorneys interested in hiring a summer clerk or a full-time associate and interested law students. The event will be held from 1-5 p.m. at the ISBA headquarters in Des Moines.

As in past years, the goal for the 2018 event is for attorneys and students to make connections during their six-to-10-minute meetings that will lead to ongoing communications and result in employer-employee relationships. Both attorneys and students have given the annual event high marks in past years.

A recent survey of 428 rural practitioners 66-plus years of age published in the December-January Iowa Lawyer showed that nearly 60 percent plan to retire within five years – 25 percent of them within two years. Nearly 20 percent said they plan to cut back on their hours but not fully retire.

Attorneys who anticipate wanting to retire or move to a part-time practice in the next three to five years are encouraged to participate in this year’s meet and greet event. To confirm an interest in participating, please send an email to Phil Garland, chair of the Rural Practice Committee, at, and to Steve Boeckman, staff liaison for the committee, at Specific details about the event will be sent as those details are firmed up.


IRS increases mileage rate deductions for 2018

Last week, the Internal Revenue Service issued the 2018 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:
• 54.5 cents for every mile of business travel driven, up one cent from the rate for 2017;
• 18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up one cent from the rate for 2017;
• 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

While the business mileage rate and the medical and moving expense rates each increased from the rates for 2017, the charitable rate is set by statute and remains unchanged.

Click here for more details on the standard mileage rates, as well as the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan.

Final CLE of 2017 talks about conflict of interest and disciplinary cases

Timothy L. Gartin, event speaker
I hate reading the attorney disciplinary cases. There are far too many good attorneys who run afoul of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct. No one intends to become the subject of such a case.

On Friday, Dec. 29, at noon at the Iowa State Bar Office, I will give a one-hour ethics presentation on identifying and avoiding conflicts of interest. You can attend in person (great lunch included) or stream it live (lunch on your own). Register on the Bar website.

The presentation addresses the consequences for violating the rules on conflicts of interest, when an attorney-client relationship exists, general principles and twelve specific rules, duties to former clients, and imputed disqualification. The program is for both transactional and trial lawyers. A proposed waiver for residential real estate transactions will be offered. The major conflicts cases, including several recent decisions, will be discussed.

The one-hour event is available in-person at the ISBA office or via live webinar, and offers one hour of state and one hour of ethics credit. Registration is available on the event page.


No. 16-0304
Laverne Edward Belk v. State of Iowa
An applicant in a postconviction-relief action appeals the district court’s decision to grant the State’s motion to dismiss.

No. 16-1171
Kevin Kel Franklin v. State of Iowa
A prisoner appeals a district court order finding it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear his case.

No. 16-1980
State of Iowa v. Dustin James Ortiz
The defendant appeals his conviction for second-degree robbery, alleging erroneous jury instructions and insufficiency of evidence.

No. 15-1344
Samir M. Shams v. Sona Hassan
The plaintiff seeks further review of a court of appeals decision vacating a judgment entered on a jury verdict and remanding for a new trial.


Past president can't represent ticket-fighting app, the Florida Bar argues
You might recall that traffic ticket-fighting app developer TIKD recently filed an antitrust lawsuit against The Florida Bar. Now the bar, along with filing a motion to dismiss the suit, has also filed a disqualification motion against Ramon Abadin—its president in 2015-16.
ABA Journal

Tax bill largely preserves incentives for wind and solar power
The final text of the Republican tax bill made public Friday largely preserves key tax credits for wind and solar power and electric vehicles, reversing language in earlier versions that could have slowed the growth of renewable energy across the United States.
The New York Times

Judicial nominee who stumbled in hearing withdraws
Matthew Petersen, who starred in an embarrassing video of his own confirmation hearing which showed him unable to answer some basic questions about trial procedures, has withdrawn his name from consideration to be a U.S. district court judge.
Iowa Public Radio

Iowa Supreme Court justice lifts 'prior restraint' order against Des Moines Register
An Iowa Supreme Court justice on Tuesday lifted a highly unusual order prohibiting the Des Moines Register from publishing information it obtained from court records.
Des Moines Register



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Estate Planning/ Tax Attorney - Whitfield & Eddy Law Firm, Des Moines, IA

Associate Attorney - Leff Law Firm, LLP, Iowa City, IA

Assistant General Counsel-Agri/Farm Insurance - Nationwide Insurance, Des Moines, IA

Special Assistant United States Attorney - United States Attorney Southern District of Iowa, Davenport, IA

Trial Attorney III - Nationwide Insurance, Des Moines, IA

Special Assistant United States Attorney - United States Attorney Southern District of Iowa, Des Moines, IA

In-House Counsel - Marshalltown Company, Marshalltown, IA

Labor & Employment Associate - Faegre Baker Daniels, Des Moines, IA

Managing Attorney - Iowa Legal Aid, Davenport, IA


The following individual applied for admission on motion to the Iowa Bar:

Timothy Iannettoni, ITC Holdings Corp, Novi, MI

Anyone with questions or comments on the above should contact: Tre Critelli at the Office of Professional Regulation, 1111 East Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50319; Phone: 515-725-8029.


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