Iowa Legal Aid Hires New Executive Director

Nick Smithberg began work as Iowa Legal Aid’s new Executive Director on January 4, 2018. Nick most recently worked with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs as deputy general counsel and executive director of the Paid Sick Leave and Commuter Benefits Divisions. He is a 1994 graduate of the University of Southern California Law Center and began his law career with South Brooklyn Legal Services, working as a staff attorney in the housing unit.

Mark Zaiger, the President of Iowa Legal Aid’s Board of Directors commented that “Nick’s vision, passion and dedication to helping to meet the legal needs of Iowa’s poor impressed the search committee and staff members who met him. He will clearly be a zealous advocate in maintaining Iowa Legal Aid’s proven commitment to underprivileged Iowans.”

Nick is replacing Dennis Groenenboom, who has served as the program’s executive director since 1992. Following his departure from Iowa Legal Aid, Groenenboom plans to do consulting work for not-for-profit organizations.

Save the Date for Equal Justice After Hours

Equal Justice After Hours 2018 will be held on March 22, 2018 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. in the atrium at the newly renovated Principal Financial Group building, located at 711 High Street in downtown Des Moines.

Equal Justice After Hours 2018 will highlight the work that Iowa Legal Aid does for children, leading them to positive futures. Iowa Legal Aid provides at-risk youth coming out of the foster care system with legal information and assistance that they would be unlikely to otherwise receive, such as buying a car, renting their first apartment or employment-related issues. Another aspect of Iowa Legal Aid’s work addresses issues that have brought a family to the point of juvenile court involvement, including domestic abuse, illegal eviction, and lack of reliable income.

Please join us on March 22 to learn more about Iowa Legal Aid’s impact on the lives of Iowa’s children.

Where:     Principal Financial Group, 711 High Street, Des Moines
When:      Thursday, March 22, 2018, 5:00—7:00 p.m.

Many levels of sponsorships are available. Click HERE for information on sponsorships.

A delicious array of appetizers and drinks will be provided.
Contact Terri Bennett at 515-243-2980 x 1611 or

Southwestern Art Available

The Iowa Legal Aid Foundation has been gifted a collection of Southwestern art. The collection was gifted with the intent that the funds generated go to Iowa Legal Aid to provide the critical civil legal assistance that Iowa’s low-income residents so desperately need.

Several of the items have been listed on eBay. Click each photo for more information:

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Message From the President

Listen as former Board president Alan Olson explains how Iowa Legal Aid is helping Iowans every day.

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Women who Experienced Domestic Violence and Received Civil Legal Services Report Improvements in Economic Self-Sufficiency

A study conducted by the University of Iowa School of Social Work entitled, “The Long-Term Effects of Civil Legal Services on Battered Women,” was done with the voluntary participation of some of Iowa Legal Aid’s clients. The report concludes that civil legal assistance to victims of domestic abuse and violence leads to more positive outcomes in many respects, including more income, less reliance on public assistance and increased self-sufficiency.

Click the links below to read more:

Report From the LSC Program Quality Visit to Iowa Legal Aid

The Legal Services Corporation’s (LSC) Office of Program Performance (OPP) conducted a program quality visit to Iowa Legal Aid from August 24-28, 2015. Program Quality Visits are designed to evaluate whether LSC grantees are providing the highest quality legal services to eligible clients. Click the links below to read more:


In 2017, Iowa Legal Aid celebrated 40 YEARS OF SEEKING JUSTICE AND IMPROVING LIVES. Since 1977, Iowa Legal Aid has provided civil legal aid to the most vulnerable members of our communities. Iowa Legal Aid is a safety net for low-income Iowans and persons who are elderly or have a disability. Staff and volunteers provide legal representation to secure the basic necessities of life – food and shelter, quality health care, safe and stable homes free of violence, and protection from consumer fraud. When Iowa Legal Aid assists these families in solving their legal problems, they are able to be better parents, employees and community members.

January 31, 2017, marked the 40th anniversary of Iowa Legal Aid, formerly known as the Legal Services Corporation of Iowa. While much can be said about how Iowa Legal Aid has grown over the years and how Iowa Legal Aid has addressed the critical legal problems faced by thousands of low-income people every year; these successes would not have been possible without the financial support from Iowa Legal Aid’s generous donors. Working together, Iowa Legal Aid is making a positive impact on the lives of low-income people and offering them hope for a better future.

The following events have been held around the state to celebrate this milestone:

March 30, 2017:

Equal Justice After Hours, the Iowa Legal Aid Foundation’s signature annual fundraising event, was held on Thursday, March 30, 2017 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the newly renovated, mid-century modern, American Enterprise Group building, located at 601 6th Avenue in downtown Des Moines. Click HERE to view the event program.

A special thanks to Steve Eckley, President-Elect of the Iowa State Bar Association (ISBA), for this year’s ISBA Board of Governors challenge. It was a dollar-for-dollar challenge from Steve and individual members of the Board of Governors of the ISBA. Pledges from the Board of Governors totaled $8,390. The challenge raised $25,250 total.

Nearly $200,000 was raised through sponsorships and donations at Equal Justice After Hours 2017. Photos can be found HERE.


  Michael & Barbara Gartner



August 29, 2017:

On August 29, Iowa Legal Aid Foundation Board member Jim Hayes welcomed members of Iowa Legal Aid’s Boards, staff and supporters to his home in Iowa City (the Grant Wood House). The house was named to National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and deemed an Iowa City landmark in 1996.

Guests enjoyed food and drink, and tours of the historic house. Click HERE for photos.

September 30, 2017:

Iowa Legal Aid’s Southeast Regional Office held a 40th Anniversary celebration with an open house in Oskaloosa at the Frank Lloyd Wright home owned by Peter Maunu and Irmi Maunu-Kocian.

The home has been a labor of love by Peter and Irmi in efforts to restore it to its original Frank Lloyd Wright luster, including furniture. Tours were provided by both Peter and Irmi and visitors were awed. One visitor, former Chief Judge (and current Mahaska County Attorney) Jim Blomgren, described playing in the home as a boy with one of the Lamberson boys. Irmi explained suspicions that perhaps the boys escaped out of the boy’s bedroom through a window which provided ready access to the outside. Judge Blomgren, however, has no recollection of perpetrating such shenanigans.

The home is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian style homes and the angles and woodwork display the peace and geometrical unity found in Wright’s homes. The event was well attended and enjoyed by all.

A special thank you to those who made this event possible:
Peter Maunu & Irmi Maunu-Kocian
Grate Expectations
No Coast Brewery
Jim Hansen

Photos can be found HERE.

October 10, 2017:

On October 10, Margaret and Fran McCaffery welcomed some of Iowa Legal Aid’s supporters to their home to celebrate Iowa Legal Aid’s “40 Years of Seeking Justice and Improving Lives” and roll out the Youth Link Challenge for Iowa Legal Aid’s Iowa City Office. The Youth Link Challenge aims to provide young people with access to legal information and resources that will give them the knowledge and confidence to make positive choices that will lead to safe, stable and productive futures.

Margaret is a member of the Iowa Legal Aid Foundation Board of Directors. Many thanks to Margaret and Fran for their hospitality!! View photos HERE.