"Des Moines is the capital of the state; there, the Legislature convenes and the laws of the state are enacted; there the Supreme Court holds its principal sessions. . .The opportunity for observation and the gaining of valuable information, not otherwise attainable, is as complete and entire as is possible."
— Chester C. Cole, The Iowa College of Law, 9 W. Jurist 451, 452 (1875).
Photo of 2004 Bill Signing
Through the Legislative Practice Center, the Middleton Center for Children's Rights, and internships Drake law students have helped pass a number of new Iowa laws related to topics such as foster children, emancipated minors, the mortgage release certificate program, and criminal drug penalties. Here, Governor Vilsack signs into law a bill related to child support advanced by Children's Rights center students.
Then Drake Law Student Kevin Patrick (LW 2012) speaks at the 2012 rally at the Capitol he organized to protest stand-your-ground gun laws.
Other examples of recent issue advocacy include the Sustainability and the Law course, wherein students develop local law proposals, such as the ordinance recently adopted by the city of Des Moines establishing a pilot food truck program, and efforts led by the Agricultural Law Center to increase awareness of locally grown produce and land conservation.
Photo of 2011 GOP Primary Debate
Drake hosted one of the Republican Primary Debates just before the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. Being the first state to help select each party's presidential nominee, and through a caucus rather than a primary, means candidates typically visit Iowa multiple times during the run-up to the election. This provides Drake students an intimate view of the political process and ample opportunities for meaningful participation in our democracy.
As a Drake Law Student, Erin Grundy (LW 2009) argued before the Iowa Supreme Court.
Grundy's opportunity arose due to her participation in the Law School's Advanced Criminal Appellate Clinic in association with the State Appellate Defender's Office. Other students who have argued before the Iowa Supreme Court in recent years include 3L Austin Mauw, Samuel Berbano (LW 2013), Leslie Behaunek (LW 2012), and Cory McAnelly (LW 2011).
All Drake Law students begin their studies with an intimate look at the judiciary with Iowa Supreme Court Justices taking them through the Iowa Judicial Branch Building and discussing their work. Later in the year Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady (LW 1978) speaks to the first-year class about courts and professionalism and U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett (LW 1975) speaks to the class about effective appellate advocacy.
Each spring during Supreme Court Week, small groups of students have breakfast with the Iowa Supreme Court Justices before the court hears arguments in the Legal Clinic Courtroom. Immediately following the arguments, the justices adjourn and take questions from students.
Other unique opportunities include the Iowa Supreme Court Scholar internship, wherein a third-year student has an academic year residence at the Iowa Judicial Branch Building and co-authors a law review article with an Iowa Supreme Court Justice, and the Supreme Court Administrative internship, wherein a group of students work with the Justices of the Iowa Supreme Court developing and evaluating proposals for administrative reform of the judiciary.
Photo from June 1906 Drake University Record
The advantages of Des Moines have been touted since the beginning. In the past few years, Des Moines has been recognized as one of the top U.S. cities for business and careers, economic strength, raising a family, young professionals, foodies, and more.
Check out Des Moines' opportunities and accolades beyond 2015: