Professor Emeritus Russell Lovell taught at Drake Law School for 38 years, from 1976 – 2014. He is an honors graduate of both Notre Dame and the University of Nebraska College of Law, and is licensed to practice law in Iowa, Indiana, Missouri and Nebraska, and numerous federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. His teaching and scholarship has focused on Constitutional Law, Civil Rights, Employment Discrimination, and Litigation. He was the founder of the Law School’s Public Service Scholarship Program in 1995 and, over its first twenty years, mentored more than eighty Public Service Scholars as Program Director. Drake University honored him with its Outstanding Professor for Experiential Learning Award in 2014, in recognition of the innovative First Year Trial Practicum (jury trial observation experience) he established for every 1L student, and with its Distinguished Community Service Award in 1998 for his NAACP civil rights commitment and litigation accomplishments.
Prior to joining the Drake Faculty Lovell clerked for Federal Appeals Court Judge Floyd Gibson and served as Director of Litigation for the Legal Services Organization of Indianapolis and the Indiana Center on Law & Poverty, specializing in federal court civil rights litigation, ranging from prisoners’ rights to school desegregation. Professor Lovell’s public service commitment includes 45 years of pro bono civil rights work for the NAACP, including service as lead counsel in cases that desegregated the Indiana State Police Department and the Des Moines Fire Department and as co-counsel on key remedies stages of both the Indianapolis and Kansas City school desegregation cases, including successful advocacy before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Kansas City case.
In retirement Lovell has continued his civil rights advocacy for the NAACP “nearly full time,” including co-authorship of four NAACP amicus briefs filed in the Iowa Supreme Court. In 2017 Chief Justice Cady appointed Lovell to an Advisory Committee on Jury Selection that proposed reforms that would help ensure racial minorities will be fairly represented on Iowa’s juries. In May 2019, the NAACP Amicus Brief he co-authored was cited extensively by the Iowa Supreme Court in its favorable resolution of important fair cross-section jury trial issues in State v. Lilly.
Over the years Professor Lovell has received numerous Outstanding Public Service and Civil Rights Awards from the NAACP—at the National, Midwest Regional, and Des Moines Branch levels—and also from Iowa Legal Aid and the Black Ministerial Alliance. In 2018 he received the ACLU of Iowa Louise Noun Award and the Iowa Chinese Association’s Leadership in Diversity of Education Award. In 2013 he was honored by the Iowa Juneteenth Observance as its Iowa Citizen of the Year. Upon his retirement in 2014 his former Public Service Scholars endowed the Professor Russell Lovell Public Service Scholarship at Drake Law School.