Emeritus Attorney Opportunities

Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid

Thank you for your interest in becoming an emeritus attorney with Iowa Legal Aid.  Your help in providing legal assistance to low-income Iowans will help improve the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors and assist the functioning of Iowa's court system.

In order to assist you in the application process, we have included information about becoming an emeritus attorney, the application process and expectations of an emeritus attorney associated with Iowa Legal Aid.

Any attorney who has been licensed to practice law in Iowa or any other state or territory can apply for emeritus status.  An attorney must associate with an "approved legal aid organization" in order to receive emeritus status.  Iowa Legal Aid is such an organization.

How does an attorney apply for emeritus status?

An attorney would:

  • Fill out an application form to be submitted to the Iowa Office of Professional Responsibility;
  • Obtain necessary certifications from states other than Iowa in which the attorney has been licensed;
  • Obtain a certification form filled out by Iowa Legal Aid stating that the attorney is currently associated with the organization and that all activities of the emeritus attorney will be under the general supervision of the legal aid organization.

How do I associate with an approved legal aid organization and obtain a certification that I am associated with the organization?

The rule requires that an emeritus attorney be associated with an approved legal aid organization such as Iowa Legal Aid and be under its general supervision. In order to obtain Iowa Legal Aid's certification, Iowa Legal Aid needs to determine that the legal work the attorney is interested in providing is consistent with the needs of Iowa Legal Aid's clients and with the available supervision. An attorney seeking emeritus status should send a letter indicating interest in becoming an emeritus attorney, provide information regarding time commitment, type of legal work preferred (for example, providing advice to clients, representing in court, drafting documents), and length of commitment. The letter should be sent to Nick Smithberg, whose address is at the end of this document.

The attorney would also need to complete a Volunteer Lawyers Project sign-up form, Upon review, Iowa Legal Aid would prepare a certification form for the attorney to attach to the application. 

What are the expectations of an emeritus attorney?

An emeritus attorney:

  • May ONLY provide assistance to a client of Iowa Legal Aid and cannot practice law for anyone who is not a client of Iowa Legal Aid.
  • An emeritus attorney provides services under the general supervision of Iowa Legal Aid and may perform the same types of activities that an active attorney can perform including advising clients, preparing documents and representing clients before courts and administrative agencies.  The work can be performed from Iowa Legal Aid's offices or elsewhere.  Emeritus attorneys supervised by Iowa Legal Aid must use Iowa Legal Aid's case management system. 
  • May only hold him/herself out as an emeritus attorney.  
  • Must disclose the attorney's status as emeritus attorney and the name of the approved legal aid organization on pleadings, except as permitted by Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.423 (limited scope representation).
  • Cannot receive compensation for work done, but may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred.
  • Must file the annual questionnaire required by Iowa Ct. R. 39.11 (client security and IOLTA information) and annual statement required by Iowa Ct. R. 39.8(1), but shall be exempt from the annual disciplinary fee and fund assessment provided in Iowa Ct. Rs. 39.5 and 39.6.
  • Shall fulfill the continuing legal education attendance, reporting and fee payment requirements set forth in Iowa Ct. Rs. 41.3 and 41.4.  The attorney need not comply with the continuing legal education requirement for the calendar year in which the lawyer is first certified under this rule.  
  • Shall have permission to perform services as an emeritus attorney withdrawn after the emeritus attorney ceases to be associated with the legal aid organization.

As an emeritus attorney practicing with Iowa Legal Aid, will I have malpractice coverage?

When you sign up for the Iowa Legal Aid Volunteer Lawyers Project, Iowa Legal Aid's malpractice coverage extends to cover any cases you take as a volunteer lawyer.  To join the Volunteer Lawyers Project, please fill out the signup form.

How can an emeritus attorney practicing with Iowa Legal Aid fulfill his/her continuing legal education (CLE) obligations?

Iowa Legal Aid conducts CLE events throughout the year which will be available for you to attend in order to fulfill the yearly CLE requirements.

If you have further questions please contact:

Nick Smithberg
Iowa Legal Aid 
666 Walnut Street
25th Floor
Des Moines, IA 50309
515-243-2980, ext. 1650

Paul Berchenbriter 

Last Review and Update: Jan 16, 2024
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