Alumna attorney Anjela Shutts ’93 honored for pro bono work

Nov. 23, 2009

Luther College alumna Anjela Shutts ’93, partner in the Des Moines, Iowa, law firm of Whitfield & Eddy, has been recognized by Governor Chet Culver for donating her time and professional services for pro bono work.

Shutts began her employment at Whitfield & Eddy in 1996. In addition to her regular caseloads, Shutts serves on the board of the Polk County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP), where she served as president four years.

She regularly takes pro bono cases through the VLP and tries to handle at least six family law cases per year. She also does family law mediations for the VLP on a regular basis.

On Oct. 12 Gov. Chet Culver honored Iowa attorneys for their pro bono work by proclaiming Oct. 25-31, 2009 “Pro Bono Legal Services Week.” Many Iowa attorneys donate their time to pro bono work each year.

“Countless Iowans cannot afford the legal representation that they need to protect their lives, properties and natural liberties,” the governor’s proclamation read. “Iowa’s legal profession has the capacity, through pro bono work, to contribute specialized skills and expert knowledge to these vulnerable populations.”

In conjunction with the governor’s proclamation, the Iowa State Supreme Court issued a resolution on Oct. 19 urging all lawyers to devote at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services each year.

The court also urged judges to encourage lawyers to pursue pro bono service. The court’s resolution and the governor’s proclamation coincided with the American Bar Association’s first National Pro Bono Week Celebration.

Lawyers who provide pro bono legal service donate their time and expertise to assist individuals who cannot afford legal counsel and to various civic organizations. Approximately 2,900 Iowa lawyers donate some of their time to individual cases through organized pro bono efforts.

In 2008, more than 15,000 hours were donated to pro bono work. The value of that time was approximately $2.1 million, according to Brett Toresdahl, executive director of fhe Iowa State Bar Association Public Service Project.

The ISBA Public Service Project promotes pro bono volunteerism among Iowa lawyers and provides support services for the numerous pro bono programs around the state.

Beyond the 15,000 hours that were documented last year, “Iowa lawyers are providing countless additional hours of pro bono time in their offices that go unreported,” Toresdahl said. “These hours are just as valuable to the clients who are receiving the assistance.”

“Iowa lawyers also spend countless hours on boards, committees, councils, task forces, commissions and in elected public offices,” he added. “The value of that time is immeasurable.”

Founded in 1874, the Iowa State Bar Association is a voluntary organization of more than 7,900 lawyers and judges who are licensed to practice law in the state of Iowa.