Home Law School News Judge Gritzner named honorary member of The Order of the Coif

Judge Gritzner named honorary member of The Order of the Coif

Judge James E. Gritzner, chief judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, was recently named an honorary member of the Drake Law chapter of The Order of the Coif. 

The Order of the Coif is the national scholastic honorary society for law. It has as its overriding purpose “to encourage excellence in legal education by fostering a spirit of careful study, recognizing those who as law students attained a high grade of scholarship—only the top 10% of the graduating class are even eligible for election to Coif—and honoring those who, as lawyers, judges and teachers [have] attained distinction for their scholarly or professional accomplishments.”

In history, Drake Law School had already established itself among the Nation’s prominent schools, having become a Charter Member of the Association of American Law Schools upon the Association’s founding in 1900. Law Schools must apply for membership in Coif and meet rigorous scholarly and educational requirements. There are more than 200 law schools approved by the American Bar Association. Fewer than half of those have qualified for Chapters of The Order of the Coif. Drake has had a chapter since 1952.

Chief Judge Gritzner is an obvious selection for this honor. Following law school, he clerked for the Honorable Ronald Longstaff of the Southern District; and afterwards he distinguished himself as a shareholder at Nyemaster Goode.

Judge Gritzner was a member of and served as chair of the Federal Practice Committee of the Iowa State Bar Association, and he also was Chief Counsel to the Committee on Professional Ethics and Conduct for the Iowa Bar. In that capacity he prosecuted more than 100 attorney disciplinary cases before the Grievance Commission of the Iowa Supreme Court; and he also prosecuted cases on behalf of the Client Security and Attorney Disciplinary Commission.

In addition, he chaired the Model Rules/Code Study Committee that led to the Iowa Supreme Court’s adoption of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. In 2002 he was nominated by President Bush as United States District Court Judge, and he was quickly confirmed. Judge Gritzner has served with distinction for nearly thirteen years and has been chief judge for the past four years. As of March 1, he assumed senior status. 

“Whether we examine opinions handed down by Judge Gritzner as District Court Judge or review opinions he has written for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, we see thoroughly researched and documented opinions, searching review, understanding, and analysis of the record; and a thoughtful, well-reasoned opinion in the case,” said David Walker, Dwight D. Opperman Distinguished Professor of Law and former dean.

The mission of Drake Law School is to “prepare outstanding lawyers who will promote justice, serve as leaders in their communities and the legal profession, and respond to the call of public service.” This mission aptly describes Judge Gritzner.

The faculty of Drake Law is honored to confer upon him Honorary Membership in Drake Law School’s Chapter of The Order of the Coif.