Member Spotlight: Joe Fraioli

Joe is a Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa. He can be reached by email at, by telephone at 515-259-7047.


Tell us about yourself
I am an Iowa transplant – born and raised on Long Island, New York, I came to Iowa to attend the University of Iowa College of Law. After graduation, I clerked for the 5th Judicial District, worked for the State Appellate Defender’s Office, and am now currently a Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Iowa.


Your notable achievements?
With the Appellate Defender, my colleagues and I created a CLE for criminal lawyers about best practices for introducing mitigation evidence into juvenile sentencing hearings.

Why you do what you do?
As a gay man, I have experienced and witnessed discrimination on a personal level. I went to law school to work in civil rights and to help people like me, who continue to experience injustice and discrimination.

What you do to get away from work?
Adventures with my boxer-mix, Clyde, composing original music, and an occasional stroll around Gray’s Lake all help me keep my balance.

What you do to give back to the community?
The great thing about working for the ACLU is that being successful at my job means helping others in the community secure their constitutional and civil rights.

Best thing about the Polk County Bar Association?
I appreciate that there is a resource out there for Polk County practitioners, specifically.

Words to live by?
Live your life the way you want to live it, and have no care for the thoughts of others.

Your favorite book?
I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so I have to say anything in the Harry Potter series.

Best place to visit in Polk County?
I love Court Avenue on a Farmer’s Market morning.

Anything you would change about Polk County?
My inner New Yorker is constantly wishing there were more Italian restaurants!

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor and why?
I would love to pick Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s mind. When she started out as a young lawyer, she began with a vision for her career, and was ultimately able to reach the highest point in her professional craft.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I really wanted to design roller coasters and amusement parks!

What songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?
It is so hard to limit me to songs, so I have to just list artists: Steven Sondheim, Kander & Ebb, The Beatles, Perfume (a Japanese pop group), and Dmitri Shostakovich

Favorite movie and why?
I’m a Star Wars fan, through and through; so anything Star Wars does it for me!