From the President . . .

PCBA President William Miller

One of the best parts of the Polk County Bar Association is the numerous opportunities it provides for every member to contribute to the betterment of the organization and our community while also expanding their own professional and personal network.

We are seeking nominations for the PCBA Board of Directors. The board meets on a monthly basis except for December and during the summer months and is responsible for governing the affairs of the organization. Our meetings are an efficient way to keep on top of developments in our profession while interacting with lawyers, judges, and court personnel. The opportunity to get involved on the board should be particularly appealing to our up-and-coming members – there are few better chances to get to know local leaders in our profession.

If the Board of Directors isn’t your cup of tea, we are always in search of enthusiastic committee members. A list of our committees is found here on the PCBA website. Unfortunately, I’m starting to approach the end of my term, but our President-Elect, David Nelmark, will begin the work of populating our committees sooner than he realizes. Of course, we’re happy to add new committee members at any time. Please contact any committee chair or our executive director, Carol Phillips, if you have interest.

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Luncheon to explore alcoholic beverages compliance issues

Join us on Tuesday, March 13, at noon a the ISBA Conference Center for our monthly luncheon featuring Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division staffers Josh Happe, Heather Schaffer, and Lolani Lekkas. Among the topics they will discuss are Regulatory Compliance in the Alcoholic Beverages Industry, Alcoholic Beverages Control Study (Tied House Study), and compliance initiatives and outreach efforts for events such as RAGBRAI. Please note that seating is limited and we may not be able to accommodate walk-ins so be sure to make your reservation by Thursday, March 8, if possible. Click here for complete details and to download the reservation form.


Attend a luncheon on us!

New PCBA members and those who renew their membership are entitled to attend one of our informative and timely PCBA Luncheons on us — FREE of CHARGE — No strings attached! Attend one of our luncheons and find out for yourself why we are the premiere organization for Polk County attorneys, judges, and other members. Click here to download our certificate and return it to us before the luncheon you want to attend in order to receive your credit or contact Sonja Diener. Member login required.


Plan to attend our March 22 CLE at Federal Courthouse

The Polk County Bar Association Bench & Bar Committee invites you to attend a seminar on March 22 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Federal Courthouse, 123 East Walnut Street, in Des Moines. The topic is: Best Practices in State and Federal Court: What Can We Learn from Each Other? And the speakers are The Honorable Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger from the United States District Court, Southern District of Iowa; and The Honorable David May and The Honorable Paul Scott from the Iowa District Court, Fifth Judicial District:

This CLE is free for current PCBA members. Based on the speakers and topics we anticipate approval for 1 hour of CLE credit. Please register by sending an email to


Fall CLE materials are now online

Some 240 PCBA members gathered at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott on November 18 to network and stay on top of their profession at the Fall general practice seminar. As always, the CLE provided a full day of thought-provoking 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 Iowa CLE hours, including 1.75 hours of Ethics, and 2.75 hours of Federal CLE credit. Click here to download the materials. Member login required.


Support our VLP and get a tax deduction to boot!

Did you know 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 for details.


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.

If you have questions about your membership, contact PCBA Executive Director Carol Phillips. Click here for details and to download the membership form.


Law Day to explore separation of powers

It’s not too early to begin thinking about the PCBA’s Law Day celebration, which is celebrated each year in May. The theme for 2018 is Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom.

The PCBA partners with ARAG each year to celebrate Law Day by giving Polk County students a chance to learn about the law through artistic expression. Students in grades K through 12 are invited to create essays, poetry, works of visual art, or performing art related to the Law Day theme. This year’s theme enables students to reflect on the separation of powers as fundamental to our constitutional purpose and to consider how our governmental system is working for ourselves and our posterity. Click here for complete details and entry forms.


Playing games for a good cause

Rick Olson (right) accepts the Trivia Challenge Trophy from Master of Ceremonies Former Justice Michael Streit.

The PCBA hosted yet another Trivia Challenge Night to benefit the PCBA Volunteer Lawyers Project on June 29 at the ISBA building. Teams of eight players each showed off their knowledge of all things trivial while Master of Ceremonies, former Justice Michael Streit, once again kept the event moving and the crowd entertained for this seventh installment of this wildly popular event.

Rick Olson Law Firm’s team, “To be determined,” took home the winning trophy after correctly answering a tie-breaking question with the Branstad Law Firm’s “Inimicus Curiae” team. See if you can answer the tie breaking question: Science. At their closest points, how far is Mars from Earth in millions of miles?

But the real winners were the clients of the Volunteer Lawyers Project as the event raised more than $5,000 to support its efforts. Click here to view photos.


And the winners were ….

PCBA Golf and Social Committee Co-Chair Todd Lantz announces the tournament winners.

More than 100 golfers hit the links on June 9 at the annual bench and bar golf outing to benefit the Polk County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project. The event, which was organized by the PCBA Golf and Social Committee, was held at the Waveland Golf Course and raised some $25,000. Several new fundraising games were added this year which were well received and generated nearly $1,000 for the cause.

Our thanks go to the committee members who helped plan and organize the event: Co-chairs Todd Lantz and Phil Bubb, and members Emily Kolbe, Jesse Johnston, Maria Bownell, Van Everett, and Chris Low.

This year’s individual winners were: Closest to the Pin – Sean Raisch and Brian Marty; Longest Drive – Amy Beck (women) and Joe Longnecker (men); and Longest Putt – David Nelson. The Mixed Group winners were Tom Levis, Hon. Douglas Staskal, Hon. Eliza Ovrom, and Mark Schuling. And the Men’s Group winners were Brad Epperly, Ben Roach, J.T. Clendenin, and Cory Harris.


Many thanks to our golf sponsors

The following sponsors helped make the 2017 Bench and Bar Golf Outing such a huge success:

GOLD Sponsors: Bradshaw, Fowler, Proctor & Fairgrave, PC; The Weinhardt Law Firm; Wasker, Dorr, Wimmer & Marcouiller, PC; Nyemaster Goode, PC; Holmes Murphy & Associates, LLC; Brown Winick, PLC; McKee, Voorhees, Sease, PLC; Iowa State Bank; Ahlers & Cooney, PLC; Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP; Whitfield & Eddy Law; Grefe & Sidney, PLC; Belin McCormick, PC; Galligan & Reid, PC; Drew Law Firm, PC; Brick Gentry, PC; Dickinson, Mackaman, Tyler & Hagen, PC; Shindler, Anderson, Goplerud & Weese P.C.; Fredrikson & Byron, PA; and Davis Brown Law Firm.

SILVER Sponsors: ARAG North America, Inc.; Bob Brown Auto; Carney & Appleby, PLC; Dorsey & Whitney, LLP; Finley, Alt, Smith, Scharnberg, Craig, Hilmes & Gaffney, PC; Gislason & Hunter, LLP; Hansen, McClintock & Riley; Hopkins & Huebner, PC; The James Law Firm; Laden & Pearson PC and Feuerhelm Law Office; Lister Industries; Sullivan & Ward, PC; Wandro & Associates; and Wilson, Deege, Despotovich, Riemenschneider & Rittgers.

In addition, the dinner was sponsored by Roxanne Conlin & Associate; and the Hole-In-One Sponsor was Willis Auto Campus. Additional sponsors were Susan Frye & Associates, Inc. and Baker Group.




Polk County students honored at annual Law Day celebration

Governor Terry Branstad signs the official Law Day Proclamation while PCBA Law Day committee members, PCBA Board Members, ARAG sponsors and PCBA staff look on. From left are: Sarah Smerage, Sonja Diener, Tom Levis, Jean Clauson, Governor Terry Branstad, Nicolle Schippers, Carol Phillips, Kala Anderson, and Ann Cosimano.

Each year, the Polk County Bar Association teams up with ARAG to give Polk County students a chance to get creative with the law as part of our Law Day celebration. Chief among the activities is the visual arts, music, essay and poetry competition for students in grades K through 12.

This year’s theme, The Fourteenth Amendment: Transforming American Democracy, provided the opportunity for students to explore the many ways that the Fourteenth Amendment has reshaped American law and society. Through its Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, this transformative amendment advanced the rights of all Americans. It also played a pivotal role in extending the reach of the Bill of Rights to the states. Ratified during Reconstruction a century and a half ago, the Fourteenth Amendment serves as the cornerstone of landmark civil rights legislation, the foundation for numerous federal court decisions protecting fundamental rights, and a source of inspiration for all those who advocate for equal justice under law.

Click here for complete details and to see the winning students and their entries.