From the President . . .

Bridget Penick, president

I have a tattoo of the scales of justice on my shoulder blade. I was inspired by Robert DeNiro’s tattoo sprawling across his back in Cape Fear, but I was not gutsy enough for that for my first (or any) tattoo. As a lawyer, I suppose it may seem too cutesy, or perhaps it is seen as shameless self-promotion. It is a permanent reminder, though, of the integrity of our U.S. justice system.

The scales of justice symbolize the idea of the fair distribution of law, with no influence of bias, privilege or corruption. Given recent events in this country, I could not be more proud of our judiciary and my fellow lawyers upholding and embodying what the scales of justice represent.

I am writing this message on Valentine’s Day, and I was fortunate to have a Valentine’s lunch date with more than a dozen judges and justices and dozens of Polk County Bar Association lawyers. I shared a table with our speakers, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady and Iowa Court of Appeals Chief Judge David Danilson. As I chatted with them informally and then listened to their prepared remarks, I was reminded of how incredibly proud I am that Iowa has merit selection instead of judicial elections, to minimize politics swaying our scales of justice in one way or the other. As Chief Justice Cady noted, the US Chamber of Commerce ranked Iowa’s court system as 4th in the nation. The State of Nevada has adopted a court of appeals system mirrored after Iowa’s mode.

As Chief Danielson (sort of) joked, the Iowa Court of Appeals is like the second chair lawyer at trial who does the majority of the work but gets none of the recognition. Read more (and see the tattoo).


Something for everyone at Bench and Bar CLE

The PCBA Bench and Bar Committee invites you to attend their Spring CLE on February 23 from 1:30 to 4:45 p.m. at the ISBA Conference Center. The topics are: Juvenile Justice, Iowa Access to Justice Commission, Cyber-security Risk Management Basics, and a Legislative Update. We anticipate three hours of State CLE credit to be approved. Following the seminar, there will be a Networking Social with complimentary Hors d ‘Oeuvres and beverages.

The CLE is free for current PCBA members. If you are not a member, you may join the PCBA on the day of the seminar in order to attend for free. Click here for details and to download the registration form. If you are unable to attend the seminar, you are welcome to join us for the Networking Social following the CLE, which will begin at 4:45 p.m.


More CLE opportunities coming up

Mark your calendar for two additional noon hour CLE seminars sponsored by the PCBA Bench and Bar Committee.

The first, on Monday, March 27, from noon to 1 p.m., at the Polk County Justice Center, will feature Christopher Patterson, District Court Administrator, on the Court Complex overview; Anne Sheeley, Polk County Clerk of Court on Case Processing; and Hon. Rachael Seymour, District Associate Judge – 5th Judicial District on Juvenile Court.

The second, on Thursday, April 20, from noon to 1 p.m., at the U.S. District Court, will feature Judge Helen Adams who will discuss proposed local federal rules. Click here to download the registration form.


Save the date: Spring CLE is April 28

Mark your calendar now so you don’t miss our Spring General Practice CLE on Friday, April 28, at the Downtown Marriott Hotel. This is event is FREE for current members. There is a $25 charge for printed materials, but they will also be posted in the Members Only area of our website following the event.

We anticipate approval for 7.5 State CLE credit hours with 1 hour Ethics and 1 hour Federal credit. Watch our website for agenda details as they are finalized. Meanwhile, click here to download the registration form.


Fall CLE materials are now online

Some 275 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 hours of State CLE credit, including 1 hour Ethics and 3 hours Federal. Click here to download the materials (member log-in required).


Students invited to take part in Law Day contest

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, provides 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. The winning students will be honored at the PCBA Annual Meeting and Law Day Luncheon on Tuesday, May 9.


We’re looking for Law Day sponsors

Please consider supporting our Law Day program and enriching the experience for Polk County area students. For just $100, you or your firm can sponsor a winning student, the student’s teacher, and the student’s parent or parents. Sponsors may also sit with the winning students at our Law Day luncheon, as space allows, and they will be recognized in the written program. Click here for details.


Do you have the latest Polk County Courts phone chart?

The latest Polk County Court phone chart is now available and we have it here on our website for you! Click here to download the new chart, which includes the new law clerks and three new judicial specialists. Member login required.


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 2017 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 Phillips. Click here for details and to download the membership form.


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.