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From the classroom to the courtroom

In late November, Jonathan Kaman successfully applied the knowledge he gained in Drake Law School classrooms to a civil case tried in an Iowa courtroom.

“Trying a real case has been an incredibly valuable experience,” says Kaman, a third year law student from Spring Grove, Ill. “This case was particularly interesting and relevant due to events occurring throughout the country related to free speech rights.”

Polk County Courthouse
Polk County, Iowa Courthouse

Kaman’s client was physically assaulted while participating in a public demonstration raising awareness of Guantanamo Bay detainee treatment. Thanks to his competence in court, Kaman achieved a favorable outcome for his client, which was reached earlier this month.


“Not only did the assailant receive a very stern lecture from the judge about respecting others’ opinions and the need for civil discourse, but my client was awarded compensation for medical damages and pain and suffering,” Kaman says. The judge also ordered the defendant to pay punitive damages to the Iowa Civil Reparations Fund.

For Kaman, the most rewarding aspect of the experience was his client’s reaction to the case’s outcome.

“This situation was something that she had been dealing with for almost a year,” Kaman says. “It was fulfilling to see her relief.”

Successful real-world practice fostered by expert faculty

Kaman spent 20 hours preparing for the case and represented his client in all court proceedings. Sally Frank, professor of law, who possesses 20 years of experience representing public activists in Des Moines, observed Kaman’s work first-hand. Her knowledge of free speech rights has proven invaluable to her students, including Kaman.

“As an adviser for students participating in real cases, Professor Frank reviews our work, provides support and guides us with a light hand,” Kaman says. “This experience has strengthened my resolve to become an attorney.”

Frank says that the Drake Law School emphasizes the value of clinical experience in its curriculum.

“There’s more to being a lawyer than just legal research,” Frank says. “You have to know how to talk to clients, judges and juries. Drake law students graduate with the practical knowledge base of a second-year associate, rather than ‘first-time-in-court’ recent law school graduates. They have experiences they can rely on, and they hit the ground running on the first day after their admission to the bar.”

Kaman, who graduated from Drake this month, will sit for the Illinois Bar Exam in February.