Back to Iowa began as a unique and special effort between African American alumni, BLSA and the University of Iowa College of Law to provide highly granular, real-life and real-time information to Iowa law students about the practice of law and the legal job market. The BTI program was founded in 1996, by Tiffany M. Ferguson (1996), to educate students about the ups and downs of the practice of law as experienced by African American alumni.
In subsequent years, due to the program's success and the continued commitment of African American alumni and the College of Law, the program has continued to be successful and to include alumni of other institutions. The first meeting and all others since have been characterized by frank discussion between students, alumni, professors and deans. Topics have included job opportunities in various markets, salary trajectories from early career through senior attorney and partnership positions, managing family and personal life, coursework experiences, challenges for attorneys due to gender and race and the importance of networking. Several mentor relationships, friendships, and employment opportunities have naturally emerged from these sessions.
BTI has been lauded for its high-level of candor and commitment to diversity. In addition to helping students, alumni have received the added bonus of reconnecting with each other.