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News | Events

Iowa Law 150

Grassley, Ernst Recognize 150th Anniversary of the University of Iowa College of Law

December 18, 2015

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today recognized the 150th anniversary of the University of Iowa College of Law by passing a resolution commemorating some of the school’s achievements.  The resolution was introduced by Iowa’s two U.S. senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.

            The University of Iowa College of Law is the first law school in continuous operation west of the Mississippi to reach the 150 year milestone. 

            The resolution notes several significant achievements of the College of Law, including the graduation of what is believed to be the first female law student and one of the first African-American law students.  The College of Law also graduated the first United States Attorney of American Indian ancestry. 

            “The University of Iowa College of law is the oldest continuous law school west of the Mississippi River and has produced generations of attorneys that have been dedicated to improving and enhancing the practice of law in Iowa and throughout the nation. Currently, Iowa Law has more than 10,000 living alumni who practice in Iowa and across the world.  This is a well-deserved recognition,” Grassley said.

            “I’m proud to recognize the significant milestone reached by the University of Iowa’s College of Law and celebrate their time honored tradition of providing an exceptional education to folks from Iowa and across the country,” said Ernst. “I congratulate the College of Law on this achievement and look forward to celebrating what I’m sure will be many more achievements in the years to come."

           The text of the resolution is pasted below.

Congratulating the University of Iowa College of Law for 150 years of outstanding service to the State of Iowa, the United States, and the world.

Whereas the University of Iowa College of Law was founded in 1865, embodies the motto of Iowa, “our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain”, and has shaped generations of lawyers who exemplify that motto;

Whereas the University of Iowa College of Law is the oldest law school in continuous operation west of the Mississippi River;

Whereas, in 1873, the University of Iowa College of Law graduated what is believed to be the first female law student in the United States, Mary Beth Hickey;

Whereas the second female to graduate from the University of Iowa College of Law, Mary Humphrey Haddock, became the first woman admitted to practice before the District and Circuit Courts of the United States;

Whereas the University of Iowa College of Law was one of the first law schools to grant a degree to an African-American student when Alexander Clark, Jr., who graduated in 1879 and is believed to be the second African-American to graduate from a public law school in the United States, graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law;

Whereas the University of Iowa College of Law graduated the first United States Attorney of American Indian ancestry;

Whereas the University of Iowa College of Law has been ranked consistently among the top law schools in the United States since the founding of the College of Law 150 years ago and is currently ranked the 22nd best law school in the United States according to U.S. News and World Report;

Whereas the law journal of the University of Iowa College of Law, the Iowa Law Review, ranks among the high impact legal periodicals in the United States;

Whereas the University of Iowa College of Law is home to a law library that houses the second largest collection of volumes and volume equivalents among all law school libraries, containing over 1,000,000 volumes and volume equivalents, making it one of the most comprehensive collections of print, microform, and electronic legal materials in the United States;

Whereas the Law Library at the University of Iowa College of Law is open to the public and provides valuable legal resources for all Iowans;

Whereas the University of Iowa College of Law serves as the only public law school in Iowa and pursues a mission of providing a legal education that is accessible, affordable, and inclusive;

Whereas the University of Iowa College of Law provides clinics that offer real-world experience in a wide range of legal fields and pro bono counsel to members of the community;

Whereas the University of Iowa College of Law strives to produce students that are well-suited for the legal profession, resulting in 99 percent of students of the College of Law completing degrees and 92 percent of students of the College of Law passing the bar exam on the first attempt;

Whereas the University of Iowa College of Law ranks in the top 15 law schools in the United States for graduates in full-time, long-term jobs that require passage of the bar exam; and

Whereas the University of Iowa College of Law has produced hundreds of notable alumni that have contributed to the legal community in the State of Iowa and the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) congratulates the University of Iowa College of Law for 150 years of outstanding service to the State of Iowa, the United States, and the world; and

(2) requests that the Secretary of the Senate transmit a copy of this resolution to the Dean of the College of Law and the President of the University of Iowa.

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Registration Open for Darrow Baldus Defense College - June 6-10, 2016

Darrow Baldus Defense College: June 6-10, 2016

Register online at:

The Clarence Darrow Death Penalty College in honor of David Baldus is an annual week-long training program for capital defense attorneys, mitigation specialists, and capital investigators.  Participants spend the week not only working on their own pending cases, but learning from some of the best capital defense team members in the country.  Each day, participants engage in various learning activities, including small group sessions, lectures, role playing, and strategy demonstrations for guilt/innocence and penalty phase.  The program is moving from Chicago to Iowa this year and is being held in honor of the late Professor David Baldus, whose pioneering and thorough death penalty research had a great impact on the death penalty defense community.  Professor Baldus is perhaps best known for “the Baldus study,” cited by the United States Supreme Court in McCleskey v. Kemp, and his work extends far beyond.

Complete details about the program are available on the Darrow Baldus Defense College Web Page.

Hannah Shirey

Following family precedent at Iowa Law: First-year student Hannah Shirey’s UI ties date back to 1881

When Hannah Shirey reflects on her lineage, it’s no surprise she wound up at the University of Iowa College of Law.

But Shirey—who became the fifth generation of her family to attend the UI College of Law this fall—wasn’t always certain she’d be a Hawkeye.

After graduating from Colgate University in central New York with a degree in both anthropology and Middle East and Islamic Studies in 2011, Shirey jumped in to nonprofit work in New York City. Though her experience was rewarding, she says she quickly found herself needing to qualify her statements to clients.

“I was doing advocacy work, but I always found myself telling my clients they were going to need to talk to a lawyer,” Shirey says. “It was getting to the point where, to effectively do the advocacy work I wanted to do, I needed to have the skills that a legal education can offer.”

After deciding to pursue a J.D., Shirey started applying to law schools. And her family—made up of seven graduates of the UI, and four from the UI College of Law in particular, over the course of nearly 140 years—was cautiously excited when she was admitted to Iowa.

“We did not ever encourage her or advise her to go to law school because that has to be a person’s own decision, but we were thrilled,” says David Dutton, Shirey’s grandfather and a 1960 Iowa law alumnus. “I think our first response was quite visceral. We got off the phone and shouted very loud. We were delighted and we still are delighted.”

Shirey’s family ties to the UI—and the College of Law, specifically—date all the way back to the late 1800s, when Steven Francis Varga (her uncle’s great-grandfather) graduated from Iowa Law with an LLB degree after his family emigrated from Hungary. Born in Leon, he then returned to his hometown and, according to Shirey’s aunt and uncle, Susan and Terry Mulligan, practiced law there for the rest of his life.

“The account is that the Vargas came over from Budapest, Hungary, to make wine in Iowa and that my great-great-grandfather was a judge in Budapest,” says Terry Mulligan. “They settled in a Hungarian colony called 'New Buda' in south central Iowa and eventually resettled nearby in Leon.”

The historic house where Varga raised his family—and another Iowa Law grad—still stands in Leon today, where it’s used as a funeral home. His son, Francis Melvel Varga (the grandfather of Shirey's uncle, Terry), graduated from Iowa Law in 1913 and followed in his footsteps. The Mulligans (who graduated from the UI in 1967 and 1968, respectively) say it’s likely the Vargas were the only lawyers in town.

Next came Hannah’s grandfather, David Dutton, who graduated from Iowa Law after marrying Susan Mulligan’s sister, Mary. Dutton is now in his 54th year of practice in Waterloo and served as Black Hawk county attorney from 1969 to 1975. Fourth in line is Dan Mulligan (Shirey’s cousin), who received his J.D. from Iowa Law with High Distinction in 1996 and was also a member of the Order of the Coif.

Even though having a family full of Hawkeyes helped spark Shirey’s interest in Iowa Law, she says her decision was solidified when she came down for a visit and learned more about the school's academic culture.

“What stood out to me was the student body being very well-rounded. The law school is full of very smart and engaged people, but people who are also very humble and cooperative. I wanted to work really hard and be around people who are passionate,” Shirey says, adding she was also attracted by the flexibility that a J.D. from Iowa had offered alums she spoke with. “I was attracted to rediscovering my Midwestern roots and I decided I wanted the UI College of Law to be part of that.”

Because she’s continuing a family tradition, Shirey says she’s discovered an entirely new connection with her loved ones.

“My grandfather has been telling me I was going to be a lawyer since I was in the womb,” Shirey says, reflecting on her youth, when she’d occasionally watch him in the courtroom. “I already feel closer to my relatives by having the Iowa connection reaffirmed. I almost feel my grandpa and I have a new lawyer language, and I can understand him a bit better now that I’m here.”

Dutton says he’s enjoyed learning more about his granddaughter's course work and discussing his own practice with her.

“It does give us a common bond. We talk about what she’s learning in contracts and torts, and I share some of my trials with her,” Dutton says. “I am hoping she will get excited about being a trial lawyer because she has great communication skills.”

This semester, Shirey began working with the New Iowans Legal Clinic—a new pro bono project in partnership with the Iowa State Bar Association—and she says she’s looking forward to watching her grandfather practice from her new perspective.

“My family had a huge influence on me coming to Iowa because they’ve all been so invested in the communities that they’re connected to,” Shirey says. “Whether it’s Waterloo, where my grandparents live, or Iowa City, where my Aunt Susan and Uncle Terry are incredibly involved, it’s been inspiring to see their love of this place and how they carry that with them.”

Original article was published on Iowa Now.

Kosovo MOU

University of Iowa, Kosovo sign MOU to increase cooperation

Leaders from the University of Iowa and the Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs gathered  earlier this month to sign a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) that increases collaboration between the College of Law and the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry. Mr. Skender Durmishi, director of the Academy signed the MOU  along with Law Dean Gail Agrawal and UI Associate Provost Downing Thomas.

In September, an initial MOU was signed in Des Moines between the College of Law and the Foreign Ministry that created an externship program abroad for UI law students.

The agreements grew out of a June trip to Kosovo by  UI Associate Dean for International and Comparative Law Programs Adrien Wing and Clinical Professor Nathan Miller.

“We are delighted to expand our relationship with the  Foreign Ministry at this important time in Kosovo’s history. We will have programs aimed at students, staff, and faculty from both countries,” Wing says.

The initial agreement involving the externship hasbecome part of UI Law’s field placement program, which offers quality educational experiences that involve students in the performance of legal work in government or non-profit agencies, criminal prosecution or defense offices, state and federal judges’ chambers, international law offices and agencies, as well as in a limited number of private practice and corporate settings. In addition to earning credit for their field work, students in field placements participate in a class or tutorial, led by a faculty member, designed to maximize and supplement the experiential learning.

For more on the field placement program, visit:

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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.

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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.

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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.