Welcome to Iowa Law

Ambition and Civility

Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Year 1: The foundation for your career

Year 1

Foundation for a Career


Year 2: Specialize in your interests

Year 2

Specialize in Your Interests


Year 3: They call you "Counselor"

Year 3

They Call You "Counselor"


Professor Pettys on the Supreme Court (IPR, River to River, October 17)


On October 17, Professor Pettys joined in a discussion Iowa Public Radio's River to River program on the politics and perception of the Supreme Court "to highlight some of the most significant cases currently before the Court, including a case that brings up the question: How much religious freedom do you have in prison? He also describes the implications of a case that deals with a husband threatening his wife via social media, who claims he has a first amendment right to do so."

Listen to the podcast at: http://iowapublicradio.org/post/us-supreme-court-theres-far-more-agreement-commonly-understood.

Professor Osiel Consults with High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia

Prof. Mark Osiel, Aliber Family Chair in Law, recently spent several days in Bogotá, Colombia, consulting with officials at the High Commissioner for Peace, Office of the President, concerning legal issues involved in ending the country’s longstanding civil war. This ongoing conflict has claimed, by all accounts, more than six million victims over the last sixty years. During the preceding generation alone, a deadly mix of drug cartels, right-wing paramilitaries, leftist revolutionary movements, and state military campaigns to combat all three of these well-armed forces have driven over two hundred thousand small farmers from their lands. As the government today negotiates a promising peace agreement with the revolutionaries, these victims of “internal displacement” seek legal remedies for their far-reaching losses. With dozens of victims themselves in attendance, Osiel addressed an audience of several hundred public officials on this subject. He advocated a victims’ trust fund, administered through a “mass claims mechanism” with simplified, expeditious procedures, on the model employed by U.S. government in compensating victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.

This was Osiel’s third trip to Bogotá in recent years, to lecture and consult on related matters. While there, he also spoke to a gathering of law students at the Universidad de los Andes and participated in a doctoral dissertation examination at that institution.

Osiel is a leading scholar in the study of legal strategies by which countries respond to such mass atrocities as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. He is the author of several books and many scholarly articles on the subject.

Tribute to Arthur Bonfield

Professor Arthur Bonfield led the Law Library from 1985 until 2014.

When Sir Geoffrey Palmer, a former Prime Minister of New Zealand and a former Iowa Law School Professor, was named to the International Whaling Commission, he wanted to learn more about the organization he was about to join. But he was disappointed to find much of the reading he sought was unavailable in his native New Zealand, a country with a rich whaling tradition dating back to its indigenous Maori people.

Fortunately, not long after his appointment, he was scheduled for one of his periodic teaching stints at the University of Iowa College of Law and was able to dig into its law library.

“While much of the material I wanted was not available in New Zealand, I did find it at the Iowa Law library,” says Palmer. “In particular, there was small booklet by the author Patricia Birnie published quite a few years ago that I had not been able to find in New Zealand. But it was at the Iowa Law Library.”

That this library would have a wider collection of whaling law material than a place where the animal is central to the culture might be surprising to someone who doesn’t know Arthur Bonfield. He has taught law at Iowa since 1962 and has been the library’s steward since becoming Associate Dean for Research in 1985. At that time the library was tenth in size among all law school libraries and had about 480,000 volumes and volume equivalents in its collection. Bonfield stepped down from that position on August 1 after having built the  University of Iowa Law Library into the largest public law school library in the country—with more than 1.3 million volumes and volume equivalents—and the second largest library by that measurement among all public and private law school  libraries in the country. In 1985 when Bonfield assumed responsibility for the library it had 140,000 separately cataloged individual titles in its collection and was ninth in size on that basis. Today the Iowa Law Library has over 1 million separately cataloged individual titles in its collection of information resources and appears to be first or second among all law school libraries on that basis.

Most of that is a testament to Bonfield’s never-ending love of law, research, and all things book.

“Arthur’s stewardship is totally responsible for the explosive and unexpected growth of the library,” said dean emeritus and professor N. William Hines, who appointed Bonfield as associate dean.

The law library can trace its roots to 1868, when the Iowa Legislature provided $2,000 to buy its first 525 volumes, which were shelved in the House of Representatives chamber in Old Capitol. The collection grew considerably so that by 1977, when the law school was located in the Law Center, an examining team from the American Bar Association wrote that it has “the best inadequately-housed law school in the country.”

A larger library was one of Hines’ primary motivations for a new law building once he became dean in 1976. It’s not a coincidence, he said, that when the Boyd Law Building opened in 1986, the law library was at its center.

“The way I saw it, the library was the heart of a law school and legal education, and it’s at the heart of this school, both literally and figuratively,” Hines says.

When the Law Library opened in the new Boyd Law Building, its 406,000 volumes made it the 13th largest law school library by hard copy print volume count in 1985. Then Arthur Bonfield took over its stewardship.

Under his leadership, the library grew dramatically. In part, Bonfield says the reason is that as globalization has brought the world closer together, legal systems are increasingly intertwined, requiring substantial collections of foreign law materials. So, for example, European, Islamic, Chinese, and Mexican law collections have been added in recent years. In addition, the subjects of legal research of faculty and students and the extent to which they became interdisciplinary dramatically expanded during the last 25 years so the information needed to conduct those broadened research interests had to be acquired by the Library.

Bonfield says the number of new law-related scholarly books published each year has also exploded, and unlike other subject areas of scholarly book publishing, most scholarly new law books are still published only on paper. In fact, he says that in the last 29 years, the number of printed new scholarly law books has increased at a faster rate than the number of such new electronically published scholarly volumes on law.

On top of that, law libraries across the country have discarded thousands of print books because of their space limitations or in anticipation of the as yet unachieved switch to almost wholly electronic publication of scholarly law books. Over the years Bonfield managed to acquire for the Law Library tens of thousands of these abandoned law books that were not available in any format in this Library for a nominal cost, or no cost at all.

“We have at least 65,000 books on our shelves that were obtained for nothing or next to nothing,” he says, including such important collections as a complete bound set of all the briefs filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit between the late 1890s and the 1990s and runs of many scholarly foreign legal periodicals that this Library did not own and that are not available online. At the same time Bonfield points out that this Law Library has one of the most complete collections of electronic legal information resources in the country and will continue to acquire as a first priority all such electronic resources that are useful to its patrons.

Beyond its collection of information resources, Bonfield says the Law Library’s other important commitment is to provide the kind of service and education needed to help its patrons find what they need in its vast legal information collections in all formats. This helps more than just law students and law faculty. Very large numbers of students and faculty from many disciplines across campus use its outstanding collection of legal materials on a daily basis because the Law Library serves the whole University’s needs for legal information not just the Law School. It is also the “law library of last resort” for attorneys, judges, and government officials as well as other libraries across Iowa who are unable to find a legal publication they need anywhere else. Each year the Library sends volumes to every county in Iowa through inter-library loan.

But Bonfield’s love of books goes beyond the library. He co-founded the Iowa Bibliophiles, a group devoted to learning more about and preserving the history of the printed book. His personal library has about 8,000 books about his various obsessions beyond the law—history, political science, economics, philosophy, sociology, art, and music. A substantial portion of his collection is made up of original copies of rare books published and printed between 1490 and 1800, including encyclopedias, books on voyages and travels, early English history, and centuries-old scholarly treatises.

“My mother was a teacher, my father was a physician. Both of them loved books, so I grew up in a house with thousands of books,” he says.

In the end, though, the work done by Bonfield to build a premier Law Library during the last 29 years will be an enduring contribution to the College of Law, the University, and the State of Iowa. Palmer, who refers to this Law Library as “one of the seven wonders of the world,” and “Arthur’s magnificent obsession,” and the best law library he’s ever seen, says he even found an obscure tort case decided in the Australian state of Tasmania in 1927 in this Law Library, when it could only be found in a few other libraries in the world.

In this case “the defendant shot a cat perched on an adjacent shed,” says Palmer. “The issue was whether the entry of the rifle bullet into the airspace over the land amounted to a trespass. The court said that it was. You can read all about this in Davies v Bennison (1927) 22 Tasmanian Law Reports 52, which can be found in the Iowa Law Library.”

While Bonfield relinquished his role as head of the Law Library as of August 1 he will continue as a professor at the Law School teaching Administrative Law and Constitutional Law and his Administrative Law law reform activities.

Iowa Law Review to honor Professor Hovenkamp with its Centennial Symposium on October 23-24.

 Iowa Law Review to honor Professor Hovenkamp with its Centennial Symposium on October 23-24.

Details and registration information is available on the Iowa Law Review website.

Year 1: The foundation for your career

Building legal skills, learning to think like a lawyer, gaining the tools to practice with integrity.
In your first year, we emphasize essential writing skills, analytical thinking, and a sharpened understanding of the role of legal institutions. You’ll take full advantage of our being one of the few law schools in the nation with a full-time legal writing faculty. 
First-year students will have two, small-section courses each semester with the professors in our Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research department. These classes deliver intensive, individualized instruction, with three to six conferences per term devoted to your legal writing projects.

Year 2: Specialize in your interests

Develop your knowledge, with an expanded focus on the areas of law you’re most drawn to. The experts are here.
In your second year, you’ll begin to gravitate toward the areas that interest you most. Our faculty are experts across the legal spectrum, and every aspect of modern law practice is covered, including international and comparative law.
Iowa Law’s Citizen Lawyer Program offers a wide variety of opportunities for pro bono work, community service, and philanthropic projects. Another way students extend their education beyond the classroom, developing professional skills is through a variety of moot court competitions—and Iowa consistently prepares winning moot court teams.
In our externship program, we place students in a variety of legal settings. Externships are the best preparation for your career, and a great way to make professional contacts. In fact, many students’ first job after graduating is one that began as an externship.

Year 3: They call you "Counselor"

Build your professional identity and accumulate deep experience in a supportive environment. Practice makes practitioners.
By the time you reach your third year, you’ll take advantage of an array of opportunities, putting into practice the cutting-edge legal theory and core doctrinal concepts you’ve mastered in your first two years. Perhaps you’ll work in the “Bullpen” in our legal clinic. Every year our students provide thousands of hours to underserved clients and other special-needs populations, representing clients and honing their legal skills under close faculty supervision.
Iowa Law is also home to four student-run law journals. Many students write for a journal during their second year and accept board positions during their third year.