Researching the Kansas City Law Firm Investigating Iowa Football

June 18, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – University of Iowa athletic director Gary Barta announced on Monday that the Kansas City-based law firm Husch Blackwell would be conducting an independent external investigation into the school’s football program. The firm was tasked with looking into allegations from former players of racial inequality and mistreatment by the coaching staff, and compiling a report of those findings to be presented to university president Bruce Harreld.

HN began researching the firm on Wednesday morning to find out what attorneys would be investigating the allegations. We contacted two people in Iowa Sports Information, the university’s general counsel, Jeneane Beck, Iowa’s assistant vice president for external relations, the records department at Husch Blackwell and several lawyers at the firm who we were told might be working the case.

On Thursday morning, we heard from Steve Renau, director of content & communications at Husch Blackwell, via email.

“Rob, I am answering your inquiry as to the identity of the U of Iowa investigators from Husch Blackwell. They are Hayley Hanson and Demetrius Peterson.”

We asked Renau to confirm that Hanson and Peterson were the only attorneys from the firm working on the investigation into Iowa Football.

He emailed back: “My understanding is that Hayley and Demetrius are the only lawyers handling the investigation, per se.”

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Hanson earned her undergraduate degree from Northwest Missouri State University and her law degree from Drake University. Her bio stated that she proactively partners with institutions to prevent and address challenges through compliance programming and in-depth legal compliance audits. If needed, she also assists with investigations, responses to government inquiries and litigation. When disputes arise, Hayley counsels leadership and manages legal concerns.

Peterson holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Kansas. His bio from his firm’s website says he conducts comprehensive investigations for schools on alleged violations of institutional policies and federal civil rights laws, including sexual harassment, racial discrimination and harassment, age discrimination and retaliation.

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The Husch Blackwell Kansas City office houses seven partners who graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law. You can read the firm’s diversity report HERE.

According to that report from 2018, Husch Blackwell had 166 equity partners who were white and one who was black. Among its associates, 209 were white and 13 were black. Five associates were multi-racial.

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Husch Blackwell does not appear on Vault.com’s list of most racially diverse law firms. The No.1-rated firm for three years running, Constangy Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP, has offices in Kansas City, St. Louis and Minneapolis, and one Iowa law school graduate among those three sites. The No. 5-rated firm on Vault’s list, Littler Mendelson P.C., has offices in Chicago, Kansas City and St. Louis, and also has one Iowa law school graduate among those locations.

Husch Blackwell released a statement condemning “the unlawful and inhumane treatment of Black Americans.” Its website includes a page on inclusion.

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