Member spotlight: Alice Helle

Alice Helle

Tell us about yourself.
I was something of a late bloomer. I started law school at Drake 12 years after my graduation from ISU. I had two kids in elementary school by then and couldn’t understand how people could attend law school and have a social life at the same time. My daughter is a Des Moines Police Office and the mother of my three grandsons. My son is a lawyer with EarthJustice in Washington, D.C. (So we’re all in law or law enforcement.)

What are some of your notable achievements?
I was the Executive Editor of the Drake Law Review and received the ISBA Senior Award. I was named “Des Moines Best Lawyer Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law Lawyer of the Year” for 2012 in The Best Lawyers of America®.

Why did you choose to practice law?
Law was my second career, after working for the Social Security Administration for 12 years. I grew tired of that and had always had an interest in the law.

Did you always want to be an attorney?
No. I initially wanted to be a teacher, probably because the only college graduates I knew in my Iowa town of 400 were my teachers.

What do you do to get away from work?
I retired from BrownWinick Law for the most part at the end of last year. I’m still working some as needed, but don’t have regular office hours; and due to the pandemic, the work I am doing is mostly from home. I had hoped to do more traveling this year, but like most people, my plans are pretty much on hold for now.

What is the best thing about the Polk county Bar Association?
I enjoy the collegiality and camaraderie of the bar association and appreciate the support it provides, especially to new lawyers.

Best place to visit in Polk County?
The sculpture park.

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor and why?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg. My son had a law school professor, who became a friend of his, who clerked for RBG. I can’t imagine a more awesome experience for a young (or old!) attorney.

What is your favorite book?
Seabiscuit. I’m not a fan of horse racing but I love this book and recently re-read it. it is remarkably researched and beautifully written.

What songs would you include on the soundtrack to your life?
Let it Be, Imagine, Bridge Over Troubled Waters. (I’m old!)

Words to live by?
Be kind.