From the President . . .


PCBA President
Emily Gould Chafa

It’s that time of year again. We recently witnessed a real Iowa snowstorm and all the neighborliness that comes with it. Early on Sunday morning, I began systematically shoveling the 10 or more inches of lovely fluffy snow from my driveway, determined to get out (of my driveway and successfully make my way to church) and give back (by singing one of my favorite hymns in the worship service). Without warning, two of my young neighbor boys and their mother walked over and started shoveling my driveway and sidewalks. What a genuine example of “Iowa Nice.” What a great example of spontaneous cooperation and collaboration to accomplish a clear goal. I’m guessing that many of us have similar stories to tell.

In 2015, I’m still asking all of you to get out and give back. No, I’m not necessarily asking you to help your neighbors shovel snow, but I am asking you to actively participate in the Polk County Bar Association’s upcoming events and projects.  Read more.


April 17 CLE offers something for everyone

Make plans now to attend the PCBA Spring General Practice CLE on Friday, April 17, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Downtown Marriott Hotel. Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and approval is pending for 7.5 hours of State CLE credit, including 1.75 hours of Ethics and 1 hour of Federal CLE credit. This CLE is FREE to PCBA members.

Among the speakers and topics are: Administrative Law Judge Emily Chafa on Administrative Rules; Judge John Wright on Ethics; Magistrate Judge Becky Goettsch on FED; Jane Hudson,Jeremy Rosen, and Dennis Groenenboom on Public Interest Law; Scott Hartsook on Medicaid Eligibility; Denise Timmins on Human Trafficking; and Josh Miller on EDMS. Click here to download the agenda and reservation form


Volunteers needed for mock trial competition

Please consider volunteering your time as a judge for the upcoming Iowa High School Mock Trial Competition. The State Tournament will be held at the Iowa Events Center on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 24 & 25 (trial rounds at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and 9 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday). There are other regional locations throughout Iowa for competitions between late February to mid-March. Judges are needed at ALL locations! Click here to sign up on-line. If you have questions, contact John Wheeler at the Iowa State Bar Association at


Seeking students and sponsors to take part in Law Day

The Polk County Bar Association gives students a chance to get creative with the law as part of the annual Law Day celebration. Chief among the activities is the visual arts, music, essay and poetry competition for students in grades 6 through 12  in Polk County. The theme of the 2015 contest is “Magna Carta: Symbol of Freedom Under Law.” The deadline for entries is April 10 and the winners will be honored at a May 12 luncheon held in conjunction with the PCBA annual meeting. Click here for details and a packet of materials.

Please consider supporting this worthwhile program by sponsoring a winning student, the student’s teacher, and the student’s parent or parents. The cost of sponsoring such a group is $100. Sponsors may sit with the winning students, as space allows, and if so desired, and will be recognized in the written program. Click here for details.


Fall CLE materials are now online

Some 250 PCBA members gathered at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott on November 21 to network and stay on top of their profession at the Fall CLE seminar. As always, the CLE provided a full day of diverse presentations covering a wide array of topics pertinent to the practice of law in Iowa. The program, which was offered FREE to members, was approved for 7.5 hours of State CLE credit, including 1 hour of Ethics and 2.75 hours of Federal. Click here to download the materials (member login required).


Trivia teams compete for a great cause

The PCBA hosted its 4th Trivia Challenge Night to benefit the PCBA Volunteer Lawyers Project on November 6. Justice Michael Streit once again served as master of ceremonies. Justice Streit kept the event moving and the crowd entertained! The night’s winning team was the Ipse Dixiters aka as the Whitfield and Eddy team. Nearly $7,000 was raised through table sponsors and the popular “Double Down” option.

Many thanks to the Trivia Challenge Committee Chair Mary Zambreno; Committee members Jennifer Zwagerman, Maggie Hanson, Erin Lain, Ashleigh O’Connell, Alison Kurth and Patrick Shanahan; and PCBA and ISBA staffers Sonja Diener, Lisa Hanson and Chris Fritz for all the time and effort taken to make this event a success. Also thanks to Brown Winick, Dickinson, Laden & Pearson and Anjie Shutts and Peter Kitundu for sponsoring dinner and beverages. Planning for the summer Trivia Night will begin soon. Want to help? Contact Carol Burdette at Click here to view photos. 


It’s time to renew your PCBA membership

One of the best things you can do for your career is to belong to the Polk County Bar Association. Your PCBA membership entitles you to FREE CLE seminars to sharpen your skills, monthly luncheons to explore current issues, access to the court-sponsored mediation program, news and information you can’t get anywhere else, discounts on programs and services, and much, much more. Click here to learn more and to download the renewal form. And, as a bonus, first-time PCBA members and those who renew their membership for 2015 are entitled to attend one of our informative and timely PCBA Luncheons on us – FREE of CHARGE – No strings attached! If you have questions about your membership, contact PCBA Executive Director Carol Burdette. Click here for details and to download the membership form.


Support our VLP and get a tax deduction to boot!

As you’re preparing to file your 2014 taxes, don’t forget that contributions to the Polk County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project are tax-deductible. The PCBA VLP is a charitable organization established with the mission of providing legal services to low income residents of Polk County. With your help, PCBA VLP is one of the most successful volunteer lawyer programs in the country, with Polk County lawyers donating approximately 5,000 hours of their time annually.

Unfortunately, the tough economic conditions have severely impacted the PCBA VLP. Demand for services has never been higher while our funding continues to decline. The PCBA VLP now offers you the ability to make donations on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis – all you need to do is check the appropriate option on your PCBA membership renewal form. And don’t forget that the PCBA VLP is a tax-exempt, charitable organization which means any donation you make is tax deductible. You can also designate the PCBA VLP as the recipient on your United Way donation. Click here to learn more from PCBA VLP President Alexander Johnson.