President’s Message – April/May 2013

March 10, 2013, marked the one year anniversary of the death of my friend and former Des Moines attorney Alexander Rhoads. At the time of his death, Alex was only 46 years old and left behind a wife, Jennifer, and a nine-year old daughter, Greta.

Alex and I became friends in our first weeks of law school and experienced those momentous law school occasions together – writing our first year briefs, surviving tax class and studying for the bar examination.

After 15 years of practicing family law, in October of 2010, Alex followed his true passion – food – and opened up AllSpice, a spice store in the East Village. The AllSpice website said this about Alex and his wife’s decision to open the store:

Alex is a self-professed foodie, but he was a foodie stuck in a decidedly non-foodie profession. So, after much thought and consideration, Alex made a significant career change and AllSpice was born.

To be honest, I remember when Alex told me he was leaving the practice of law to open the store. I thought he was crazy. He was leaving an established family law practice. He had a wife and a child. He had spent years working to get that point in his career and he was going to walk away from it all to open of all things – a spice store.

And then I remember the first time I saw Alex after he opened the store. He was working harder than ever, but he was happier than I had seen him in a long time. He had found his passion and was able to live it every day.

I think about Alex often – not just because he was my friend and I miss him. I think about what a great example he was: he found his passion and was able to live it every day. His legacy to me and to many others is that example, and I have thought a lot about what my passion is in the past year. Do not misunderstand me – I am not leaving the practice of law to open a spice store, or any store. Nor do I think that living your passion means that you need to make the drastic life change as Alex did.

I have thought a lot the last year about how I can live my passion and how it can be a part of my law practice. As I think of his life and his death, I think about the need for everyone to find their passion and find a way to involve it in their lives. Whether it is mentoring young lawyers, improving how your firm or office operates, or giving of your time to the Volunteer Lawyer Project, involving your passion improves not only your life, but those lives around you. I can think of no better way for me to remember my friend Alex than that.













Federal Magistrate Judge Ross Walters will speak on the Emancipation Proclamation and related topics as a lead-in to the upcoming Law Day which celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Join us on April 9th, 2013 at noon, at the ISBA Conference Center, 625 East Court Ave., in Des Moines. Click here for details and to download a reservation form.





Join us on Thursday, April 11, for dinner, drinks, and live music, and show off your knowledge of all things triva at our first-ever Trivia Challenge night to benefit the PCBA Volunteer Lawyers Project. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the ISBA Conference Center, 625 Court Ave., in Des Moines. The cost is $50 per person; $400 per table of eight. Click here to download the reservation form.





Spring has finally sprung and it’s time to dust off those golf clubs and hit the links. And what better way to kick off the season than to join us at our annual Bench & Bar Golf Outing on Friday, June 7th, at the Waveland Golf Course in Des Moines. In addition to providing fun and networking opportunities, this event also benefits the PCBA Volunteer Lawyers Project. Registration begins at noon with shotgun start at 1 p.m. Register before May 15th and save $15! Included in the cost are green fees, cart, and dinner following golf. You may order a box lunch for an additional $10. Click here for details and the registration form.




Come celebrate Law Day with us

The PCBA annual meeting and Law Day celebration will be held on Tuesday, May 14, at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Des Moines. The Business Meeting and election of officers will begin at 11:30 a.m. followed by a luncheon at noon. The luncheon program will feature our annual Law Day Awards presentation, and a special keynote address by Judge Romonda Belcher on the Law Day theme, Realizing the Dream – Equality for All. Lunches are $17 in advance and $19 at the door. Please make your reservation by

May 10.Click here to download a reservation form or call Sonja Diener at 243-3904.




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Dorsey & Whitney LLP has named William J. Miller and Alissa Smith as partners of the Firm


Bill is a trial lawyer practicing in complex business litigation, employment, products liability, and personal injury defense for clients in fields including health care, government, financial services, and transportation. Bill is also an active member of the bar, serving on the Boards of Governors of the Iowa State and Polk County Bar Associations, the PCBA Volunteer Lawyers Project Board of Directors, and as co-chair of the Iowa Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Amanda the Panda, and a 2008 graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute.


Alissa is a member of the firm’s health group and represents health care organizations such as health systems, hospitals, pharmacies and long term care providers, as well as nonprofit and municipal organizations. Her practice involves a wide range of corporate and regulatory matters facing health care providers and nonprofit organizations. Alissa’s transactional practice includes contracts, leases, mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures.  Her regulatory practice includes the interpretation and application of state and federal fraud and abuse laws, Medicare and Medicaid rules, tax-exemption laws, HIPAA and privacy laws, licensing matters, employment laws, and corporate and health system governance issues including the revision and negotiation of medical staff bylaws. She also assists with hospital-provider relations such as co-management arrangements, peer review investigations and medical staff fair hearings.


Alissa is a frequent speaker and writer on issues relevant to her clients. She is a long-standing member of the advisory committee for the Iowa Legal Aid Health and Law Project and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Iowa Organization of Women Attorneys. Alissa is also a member of the Iowa Society of Healthcare Attorneys, the Polk County Women Attorneys and the Young Lawyers Division of the Iowa Bar Association.



Barry A. Russell and Lu Ann White are pleased to announce the opening of their law firm of Russell & White, L.L.P., at 5525 Merle Hay Road, Suite 305, Johnston, Iowa 50131-1456. Their new telephone is (515) 278-1590.Their new e-mails are and  Their website is They were formerly partners in the law firm of Hanson, Bjork & Russell, L.L.P. in Des Moines.




The Polk County Women Attorneys has presented its prestigious Willie Stevenson Glanton Award to Judge Ruth Klotz. Judge Klotz recently retired after serving as Associate Probate Judge for the Iowa District Court for Polk County for 34 years. At the time of her retirement, she was the only probate judge in Iowa. She attended Drake University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in 1954 and her law degree in 1955. She was the only woman in her class while at Drake University Law School. She is widely respected as an expert in the field probate matters. Additionally, she is recognized as an exemplary role model for female attorneys in Iowa. Previous recipients of the Willie Stevenson Glanton Award include Judge Romonda D. Belcher, 2011; and

Roxanne Conlin, 2012