On behalf of the College of Law, Dean Gail Agrawal is proud to announce that Professor Sheldon Kurtz, formerly the Percy Bordwell Professor of Law, was named the David H. Vernon Professor of Law as of April 1, 2014. Professor Kurtz has been a recognized leader, teacher, and scholar for over forty years at the College of Law. He succeeds the late Professor Randall P. Bezanson as the second holder of the David H. Vernon professorship.
The David H. Vernon Professor of Law was established to honor Professor and Dean Emeritus Vernon who passed away on November 5, 2001. Vernon was a beloved teacher at Iowa for over 35 years. He served Iowa Law as a visionary dean from 1966 to 1971 and established the College of Law as an innovator and leader in legal education. The fund was established by the generosity of family, colleagues, alumni, and friends. The inaugural David H. Vernon Professor of Law was Randall P. Bezanson who passed away on January 25, 2014. Dean Agrawal explained, “The appointment of Professor Kurtz to this professorship is meaningful both as an acknowledgement of his contributions in teaching, scholarship, and service to the College of Law and in recognition of his deep personal and professional relationships with Professors Vernon and Bezanson.”
“Being named the Vernon Professor and succeeding Randy Bezanson in this Chair is one of the great honors of my life. Both David and Randy have had an enormous influence on me but more importantly they were close and dear friends who I miss daily,” Kurtz said.
In the classroom, Professor Kurtz is an energetic and memorable teacher. First-year students enjoy his Property Law course while upper level students benefit from his courses on Trusts and Estates, Health Law, and Business Associations. He also pioneered a model legislative drafting seminar and teaches a unique medical seminar in which law students spend one week at The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics observing and discussing the delivery of healthcare.
Kurtz, together with Professors Hovenkamp and Professor Carol Brown of the University of Richmond Law School, co-authored one of the leading casebooks on property law used in American legal education, American Property Law (West Publishing Company, 6th ed. 2012). Professor Kurtz also authored Introduction to the Law of Real Property (5th. ed. 2011). His research and scholarship interests have focused not only on property and health law issues but on estate planning as well. In addition to publishing numerous articles on estate planning, he is the author or co-author of numerous books, including the most widely used treatise on Iowa probate law (Kurtz on Iowa Estates, 3rd Edition, 1995) and the only comprehensive student treatise on the law of wills and trusts (Wills, Trusts and Estates, 2d. ed. West Publishing Company, 2001) (with McGovern and English).
“Across the United States and beyond, thousands of attorneys owe their understanding of property law to Shelly Kurtz. Even if they never had the privilege of sitting in a classroom where Shelly himself was teaching, they spent a great many hours learning from him through his student-focused scholarly writing. His work has an extraordinarily broad impact,” Professor and Associate Dean of Faculty Todd Pettys said.
His service to the College of Law is as extensive and exemplary as his teaching and scholarly work. In addition to his considerable service to the College of Law, he has served the University in a variety of capacities. He is the only person in the history of the University to have served twice as President of the University’s Faculty Senate. His commitment to service is not limited to the University of Iowa. He is a former Commissioner of Uniform State Laws from the State of Iowa. As a commissioner, he has worked on the development of many widely adopted model laws. In particular, he was the Reporter for the revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of 2006 that has been adopted in over 46 states. Most recently he is serving as Reporter for a revised Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. “Professor Kurtz’s activities as a drafter of legislation for enactment by state legislatures that reform and improve the legal system have been enormous,” said Professor Arthur Bonfield. “Indeed his contributions and success as a real world law reformer are a model to which law faculty experts should aspire.”
Kurtz is a life member of the American Law Institute and is a member of the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics and the American College of Trusts and Estates Counsel. In service to the profession, Kurtz chairs the Multistate Essay Drafting Committee of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which drafts the essay examination for a number of states, and he is also a member of the Property Section of the Multistate Bar which prepares property questions for the Multistate Bar.
His complete faculty bio is available here.
In January, Professor Kurtz presented the 2014 George G. Wright Legacy Lecture. A podcast of the lecture is available here.
Richard Koontz, director of the UI’s Larned A. Waterman Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center, discusses the role of nonprofits in supporting the state economy and the well-being of its residents. Story From: Des Moines Register
Professor Miller Comments on Matt Bevin’s TARP Letter (The Weekly Standard, Feb. 13, 2014)
Sam Langholz’s passion for public service and law is a force that drives him out of bed in the morning.
The 2008 University of Iowa College of Law alum truly enjoys getting up each day striving to improve the efficiency and quality of Iowa’s indigent defense system.
“My position is a unique mix of law and public policy, which has been a good match for my interest in public service and love of the law,” he said. “I appreciate the position is challenging and multifaceted, and that I have the opportunity to continue to engage in appellate practice.”
This hometown Hawkeye from Clear Lake, Iowa, coordinates Iowa’s indigent defense system, managing a $55 million budget and the State Public Defender system of 220 employees and administering the indigent defense fund that provides payment to other court-appointed attorneys.
He handles some appellate litigation arising out of indigent defense fee claim disputes, but most of his practice is out-of-court, including drafting and negotiating contracts, conducting internal investigations, advising on and handling personnel matters, drafting administrative rules and proposed legislation, and advising on issues of attorney ethics.
Langholz received his bachelors degree from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia where he majored in politics. Following graduation, Langholz attended the University of Iowa College of Law from 2005-2008, and graduated in May 2008.
Immediately after law school, Langholz clerked for Judge Steven M. Colloton on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He then worked for the Davis Brown Law Firm in Des Moines, focusing on civil litigation and appeals.
Langholz said he has no doubt that his UI College of Law education has had a profound effect on helping him get where he is today.
“Through the efforts of professors and student leaders on moot court and law review, I learned to be a strong writer, which is one of a lawyer’s most important skills,” he said. “I also learned an incredible amount about the law and about life from discussions with professors, classmates, and alumni throughout the three years of law school and since then.”
The UI opened doors for him to intern in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cedar Rapids during his first summer and in the Muscatine County Attorney’s Office his second summer.
Law school experiences built many memories for Langholz, including taking advantage of the open door policies of many professors to learn more about the law, seek professional guidance, and develop friendships.
“Some of my fondest memories are of spending the night at the law school doing authority checks with the other writers and editors of the Iowa Law Review,” he said. “Delicious food, great company, and lots of books — what more could one ask for?”
Choosing a favorite UI class was difficult for Langholz, but he ended up landing on the Civil Procedure class he took his first year with Professor Bauer.
There are so many directions that you can take a law degree, and great flexibility in the classes you take, activities you’re involved in, and summer experiences, but all this flexibility can be a curse if you haven’t been thinking strategically, Langholz said in light of advising prospective and current law students.
For example, you are not likely going to be a particularly competitive applicant for a position as an entry-level public defender if you never took any elective criminal courses, never interned in a public defender or prosecutor office, and never took advantage of the legal clinic or trial advocacy programs, he said.
However Langholz thoroughly encourages obtaining a law degree.
“For better or worse, law continues to be at the nexus of so much in society — business, government, and our personal lives,” he said. “A law degree can give you the tools necessary to work through the legal system, and to help others to do the same, to more successfully accomplish the business, personal, or political objectives that are desired.”
Aside from work, Langholz enjoys spending his spare time with his wife Kristin and two young boys, and taking in musical theater.
The University of Iowa College of Law invites you to share memories and tributes in the comments section below.
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January 26, 2014
Members of the Law School Community,
With a heavy heart, I write to share the sad news of the death of our beloved colleague, Randall P. Bezanson, the David H. Vernon Professor of Law. Randy, as he was known to his many friends, died on Saturday, January 25, in San Antonio, Texas, at the home of his daughter Melissa Bezanson Shultz surrounded by his loving family. He confronted his long illness with unforgettable grace and courage. We are grateful for the many years Randy was our colleague, and we deeply mourn his loss.
A native of Cedar Rapids, Professor Bezanson earned his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in 1968 and his J.D. summa cum laude here at the University of Iowa College of Law in 1971. He was a star student, graduating first in his class and serving as Editor-in-Chief of the Iowa Law Review. After law school, he was a law clerk first to the Honorable Roger Robb on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and then the following year to the Honorable Harry A. Blackmun on the United States Supreme Court. In 1973, Randy returned home and joined our faculty. He quickly established himself as one the nation’s leading experts on the First Amendment, libel law, and mass communications law.
In 1979, at the age of 32, Professor Bezanson was appointed by then President Willard “Sandy” Boyd to be the University’s Vice President for Finance and University Services. He served until 1984, directing one of the then-largest budgets in state government. During his tenure, he confronted budget cuts, hiring slowdowns, reversions, and salary freezes, and was also engaged in three successful capital improvement projects, including the construction of our Boyd Law Building.
Professor Bezanson left Iowa in 1988 to become Dean at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, where he served with great distinction. He returned to our faculty after the completion of his deanship as a visiting professor in 1994, rejoining us as a member of the full-time faculty in 1996. Except for a brief visit to the University of Arizona Law School, he was not to leave us again. In 1998, Professor Bezanson was named the Charles E. Floete Distinguished Professor of Law, and in 2006 he became the inaugural holder of the David H. Vernon professorship, named for a dear friend and colleague who preceded Randy in death.
Professor Bezanson’s teaching centered on constitutional law, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and mass communication law. He was an extraordinary teacher, recognized in 2009 by the conferral of the President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence, the University of Iowa’s highest teaching honor. His scholarship spanned the fields of administrative law, constitutional law, the First Amendment, defamation and privacy law, law and medicine, and the history of freedom of the press. The author of dozens of articles, his work was published in leading law journals, and other scholars frequently rely upon his insights. Professor Bezanson was also the author, co-author, or editor of eight books, two monographs, and six book chapters. His book with co-authors Gilbert Cranberg and John Soloski, Libel Law and the Press: Myth and Reality, received the National Distinguished Service Award for Research in Journalism in 1988 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi. A committed scholar to the very end, Randy was circulating a draft of a new article for comments at the time of his death.
Professor Bezanson drafted statutes for Iowa on matters relating to the mentally ill and to life-sustaining procedures. He also was a member of the American Law Institute (ex officio) and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. In the latter capacity, he helped to draft proposed legislation on matters ranging from the rights of the terminally ill to defamation. He was a member of the Iowa Bar and a leader in the Iowa City and University of Iowa communities.
Randy will be remembered by his colleagues for his rigorous mind, his great wit, his unyielding commitment to legal education, his deep devotion to using writing as a vehicle for sharpening students’ minds, his unfailing willingness to read and comment on colleagues’ drafts, and his instinctive questioning of unspoken assumptions. Many of those qualities were on daily display around the faculty lunch table, to which Randy invariably came with a topic worthy of careful thought and discussion. His students will remember him as a gifted and committed teacher, learned scholar, and wonderful mentor. His greatest professional pride came from his students’ achievements. Life in the Boyd Law Building will not be the same without him.
Randy was preceded in death by his wife, Elaine Croyle Bezanson. He is survived by their two children, Melissa Bezanson Shultz and Peter Bezanson, and five grandchildren.
We will gather with the family to celebrate Randy and a life exceptionally well-lived on Saturday, February 15, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Levitt Center for University Advancement. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers memorials be directed to the Randall Bezanson Memorial Fund at the University of Iowa Foundation, P.O. Box 4550, Iowa City, IA, 52244. To share a memory or leave a condolence, please click here.
With deep sadness,
Dean and F. Wendell Miller Professor of Law
Read his obituary in the Iowa City Press Citizen.
Pamela Meanes, University of Iowa College of Law 1996 J.D. graduate grew up knowing she wanted to serve her community and make a difference in the lives of others. Her original idea was to become a teacher and pursue a career in education, but eventually decided to venture down a different path to reach her goal of serving the community: attending law school.
Now with the help of her law degree from the UI, Meanes spends every day solving problems for people and helping people — and their businesses — avoid problems.
“I’d be giving you a less than accurate answer if I didn’t tell you that I like the pressure and the challenges,” she said. “There is nothing like talking to a CEO, or inside counsel, figuring out what legal problems they are facing and telling that person ‘OK, I can help you.’ In some cases, I’m handling multi-million dollar matters, the types of cases that can make or break a company or organization. The pressure is immense, but to me, it’s also thrilling.”
She was recently elected president-elect of the National Bar Association — the nation’s oldest and largest association of African American lawyers that was founded in Des Moines, Iowa in 1925. She will succeed current president Patricia Rosier as President next July.
Meanes earned her bachelor’s degree from Monmouth College in 1990 and received her master’s degree from Clark Atlanta University in 1993. She then attended the UI College of Law from 1994-1996 after one of her master’s professors told her she should consider a career in law, and after speaking with a UI College of Law representative.
“I had never thought about going into law, so the whole idea of becoming a lawyer really was hard to consider at first,” the East St. Louis, Illinois native said. “But he kept pushing, and eventually put me in touch with a law professor at the University of Iowa College of Law who gave me a great deal of encouragement, so I decided to do it. Once I got to the University of Iowa, and met the students and faculty, I knew I was in the right place and that I had made the right decision.”
Following graduation at the University of Iowa in 1996, Meanes began her career at Thompson Coburn later that year and was elected partner in 2005. While not the firm’s first African American partner at her firm, Meanes is the first in the firm to be elevated from associate to partner.
In her years with the firm she has defended financial institutions on various contract, mechanics lien and lender liability matters; managed and negotiated more than 200 complex land acquisitions for a major transportation agency in a leading Midwestern city; supervised a discovery team consisting of numerous attorneys, paralegals and supporting staff in multimillion-dollar breach of contract case;
tried or second-chaired bench and jury trials to conclusion on various civil matters; and defended senior executives and a nonprofit organization on matters related to race and sexual harassment.
Meanes has also been deeply involved in the National Bar Association, holding positions as Vice President, Editor-In-Chief of The NBA Magazine, Chair of the Finance and Fundraising Committee, Region VIII Regional Director, Deputy General Counsel, Women Lawyers Division, Judicial Selections Committee member, Nominations Committee member. In addition, she has been a member of the NBA’s Law and Religion Section, Minority Partners in Majority Firms Division, Commercial Law Section, Corporate Law Section, and National Bar Institute.
While she realizes law school is a rigorous time in your life, Meanes offered some advice to current and prospective law students: “First, it’s important to know that you can do it,” she said. “Even when it seems tough, and overwhelming, you can get through it. And when you graduate, you can get the job you want or better yet, the job you were meant to have. Be willing to work hard, listen, open your mind, embrace change and what you are learning, look at it as just another (but very important) part of your journey.”
A law degree is very versatile and can be tailored to your own passion, she said.
“What you do with your law degree is up to you … what is your passion? Sure, no one is going to walk up to you and hand you your dream job in law, but trust me, if you are passionate about it, work hard and smart you, WILL achieve your goals.”
Right now Meanes’ work at the firm and with the NBA keeps her busy. However, she is very involved with her church, the New Freedom Church in Belleville, Illinois. Her priority, though, is family. Spending time with her husband and children is extremely important. As of now, she doesn’t really have time for hobbies … but the upside is, she said, “I love all that I do and I don’t feel as if I’m missing out on anything!”
Hometown: Omaha, NE
Undergraduate Institution: University of Nebraska-Omaha
Undergraduate Degree: English
Joshua Weiner, a University of Iowa second year law student was awarded a Peggy Browning Fellowship to work for the Directorate of the Whistleblower Protection Program for the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) this past summer in Washington D.C.
“It’s a bit different from what I would say a typical summer legal internship is like,” he said. “I worked on a couple legal memos and having a legal background is certainly helpful, but a lot of what our office did was measurement-driven analysis; preparing reports on programs, answering questions presented by the Government Accountability Office, things of that nature. It’s a great window into the world of an administrative agency.”
The Directorate of the Whistleblower Protection Program oversees the administration of the whistleblower provisions of 22 different federal statutes, ranging from occupational safety and health to securities regulation. A complaint filed with OSHA is investigated by OSHA staff through 10 Regional Offices. If a complaint is dismissed, the complainant can appeal that decision to the National Office; Weiner’s work includes working with those appeals.
He also worked on a report of ALJ decisions issued under the whistleblower provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act over the past three years and collaborated on an Alternative Dispute Resolution Pilot Program.
Peggy Browning Fellowships provide law students with unique, diverse and challenging work experiences fighting for social and economic justice. These experiences encourage and inspire students to pursue careers in public interest labor law. The Peggy Browning Fund is a not for-profit organization established in memory of Margaret A. Browning, a prominent union-side attorney who was a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from 1994 until 1997.
Weiner said he has always had an interest in helping others and advocating for what he believes in and felt attending law school would give him the opportunity to influence many people in a positive way – so the fellowship was a perfect fit.
He discovered the PBF through University of Iowa career services and applied online. The PBF offers 70-plus Fellowships each year through a variety of labor-oriented sponsors. The positions are typically posted in the fall for the upcoming summer, and applicants can apply for up to five positions, and Weiner applied for all five. He was notified of his offer last winter.
“I chose this Fellowship with OSHA because I was interested in seeing how a federal agency operated from the inside – from rulemaking to administration,” the 25 year old from Omaha, Nebraska said. “What I enjoyed most about my job is that I get to do things that are not necessarily in my comfort zone as a law student, but that require a lot of the same critical thinking skills.”
While attending the UI law school, Weiner is the research assistant for Professor Lea VanderVelde and said he owes her a special thanks for being supportive and teaching him to think about the law in a different way that has helped at OSHA.
In 2012 and 2013, Weiner participated in Citizen Lawyer Programs with both Iowa Legal Aid and the ACLU Immigration Project. He was a finalist in the 2013 Van Oosterhout-Baskerville Moot Court Competition and was also selected to participate in Supreme Court Day in the fall of 2013.
His previous work experiences include working for a workers’ compensation insurance company and an internship at Iowa Legal Aid in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
“I learned a great deal about being an advocate in my time with Iowa Legal Aid and I owe a lot of thanks to the attorneys there,” Weiner said.
His summer fellowship provided him with many experiences outside of a typical law internship, he said.
“It’s been a eye-opening experience into the world of government,” he said. “Very little in a government agency gets done in isolation. It takes a lot of contact with people and patience.
He plans to carry forward many of the opportunities and skills into his future career including network connections and crafting policy.
“This internship has really given me exposure on how to analyze data and prepare reports on it,” he said. “I know this isn’t necessarily legal, but the way that I think the industry is heading requires some technical savvy as well as experiences that make you marketable not just as a lawyer, but as someone who can offer consultation and understand issues from a policy standpoint.”
Weiner said one of the reasons he was attracted to the UI law school was the approachability of the law professors. He said they all share a demonstrable passion for molding competent, compassionate, and responsible lawyers.
But perhaps the greatest benefit he’s taken from law school, Weiner said, besides the obvious benefit of a legal education, is the confidence he’s gained. The ability to think on your feet and offer articulate, well-reasoned responses to questions is a skill that he thinks translates to any setting.
“Of course I was nervous about meeting my supervisor and making a good impression,” Weiner said of his fellowship position. “I’ve found in my experience, however, that mistakes are inevitable in any new position – but what is most important and what people will remember is your attitude and your willingness to learn.”
Hometown: Sevastopol, Ukraine
Undergraduate Institution: University of Iowa
Undergraduate Degree: Sociology
Zdravstvujtye, privit, or hello — whether it’s in Russian, Ukrainian, or English, or whether she’s twirling away on the ballroom floor, Kseniya Stupak won’t hesitate to share her experience last summer interning for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa, where she found her passion of Federal Criminal law.
“I worked with different cases including drugs, gangs, guns, child pornography, sexual abuse, and murder,” Stupak, a University of Iowa College of Law 2L, said. “I actually practiced law, not just learned how to think like a lawyer. I realized that I want to prosecute such crime and not defend.”
As a law clerk, her job included research, writing memos, briefs, observing criminal trials, pre-trials, sentencings, and plea hearings. Not only did she observe the federal criminal procedures, but participated fully in every step of the process. She interviewed the defendant in prison, wrote questions for cross-examination, and wrote sentencing memos, worked with FBI agents, Secret Service, U.S. Marshall’s, and Federal Prosecutors.
The trilingual student grew up in Sevastopol, Ukraine and moved to Cedar Rapids in October 2004, with her family. When she’s not studying law, she travels the world participating in ballroom dancing competitions — and has been named a champion. She said her background traveling all over the world helps her be open to different points of view and understand different cultures.
Stupak is involved in several UI Student Organizations including Organization For Women Law Students and Staff, where the group fundraises for Pro Bono trips around the United States to help people and volunteer. She is also active in Legal Clinic, and last semester she participated in Divorce Pro Bono Clinic. Stupak joined the Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems Journal and would like to be in the Moot Court team next semester.
As a mother, student, wife, ballroom champion, and volunteer, Stupak said her life becomes hectic but still feels like she can do it all, and knows that her positive attitude and energy will push her through.
“Boxing and gym are the best stress releases,” she said. “Sometimes right after the classes I feel overwhelmed and release my stress by boxing or dancing and then go home and start being myself again.”
Stupak said she loves the University of Iowa Law School because of its relatively small size. All students know each other and all professors know every student. She said they don’t only study, but have fun socializing together with theatrical plays, cards games, picnics, and many more other activities.
However, academia is the College of Law’s forte.
In Iowa Law School, Stupak said they learn how to think like a lawyer, therefore, they find internships, externships and volunteer opportunities to practice law. The combination of both helps to prepare each student for a new career.
“When I started to learn law, I realized that my brain started to think differently,” she said. “I am more careful with anything I do, anything I sign. I developed great communication skills, writing skills. I feel that I am more freely can talk to different people with different backgrounds and be open for their opinions by being a good listener.”
Those skills helped her land the internship of her dream this past summer.
“I have no regrets that I joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office during the summer,” she said. “Everyone was extremely helpful at the office and helped me in my understanding in federal procedure and law. All of my questions were answered and I received a lot of feedback and suggestions.”