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Get to know … Madison Gurley, 3L

Madison Gurley, 3L
Grand Junction, Colorado

Madison Gurley is driven by a passion to help those who do not have the means to help themselves.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in Art History and English Literature, Gurley considered pursuing a master’s degree in Art History. However, her work as a paralegal at the Colorado Office of Alternate Defense Counsel changed those plans. The organization works with indigent criminal clients.

“The diversity of the cases and the clients reaffirmed my passion for helping those who cannot afford legal representation,” Gurley says. “That pushed me away from a masters and toward Iowa Law instead.”

Gurley says she actually began working in law offices at the age of 15, as the byproduct of growing up the daughter of a criminal defense attorney. She would often spend afternoons in her father’s office and became “absorbed” in his work, Gurley says.

“I loved meeting his clients and hearing about cases,” she says.

Gurley says that the University of Iowa College of Law has been the “best fit” for her. She enjoys that class sizes are not too big or too small – allowing her to meet all of her classmates and professors – and that Iowa Law is challenging, but classmates aren’t “ripping pages out of books to get ahead,” she says.

“There is a lot of competition because I am surrounded by brilliant people, but at the end of the day, I get so much support from my classmates and professors,” she says. “There is a unique blend of competition and ‘Iowa Nice’ that has fostered an amazing learning environment where classmates can debate differing points of view with one another and share a drink at Big Grove later in the same day.”

On campus, Gurley is involved with the Organization for Women Law Students & Staff and is a research assistant for professor Emily Hughes, who she counts among her most influential instructors.

“Every professor I have had at Iowa Law helps get students engaged in their subject,” she says. “Professor Hughes takes her interest, expertise and knowledge and adds an element of excitement to the class that makes students who may not have been interested in a topic before excited to learn and engage in her class.”

Outside of the classroom, Gurley has interned at the Johnson County Public Defender’s Office and the Montrose Regional Office for the Colorado Public Defenders.
Gurley says the best lesson she has learned at Iowa Law is the value of time management. Like many of her peers, she has also come to rely upon career services.

“I’ve gotten a lot of advice from either career services or administration about certain classes I may want to take and internships to look into that help me prepare for my next step,” she says.

After graduation, Gurley says she plans to return to Colorado and hopes to continue her work for the Colorado Public Defenders.


Madison Gurley