Joseph I. Brody (1889-1963)

Joseph I. Brody was one of the great lawyers of Des Moines for nearly 50 years. He was born in a small town in Iowa and moved to Des Moines as a young boy. Mr. Brody went to school in Des Moines and graduated from East High School. He also graduated from Grinnell College and studied law at the University of Chicago, which is one of the very best law schools in the country.

Mr. Brody became a member of the Des Moines School Board in 1955 and served until his death in 1963. He was President of the School Board in 1961 and 1962. He served on many other civic and cultural boards. Mr. Brody was one of the founders of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union. The Civil Liberties Union was organized to provide legal protection for people whose rights were threatened simply because they held unpopular opinions, or were members of minority racial or religious groups. Mr. Brody felt that it was important to protect the rights of everyone, regardless of their opinion, race or religion, and he spent a lot of time working to protect their civil rights.

Mr. Brody also served the community as President of the Polk County Bar Association. He served on the State Executive Council of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, was President of the State Jewish Welfare Fund and was a member of the Iowa Taxpayers Association. Mr. Brody also was a Director of the Rhodes Scholarship Committee, an organization that awards scholarships to athletes who also excel in scholastic achievements.

Mr. Brody was one of the few lawyers in Iowa ever to present a case to the United States Supreme Court—a case that he won. The case was about how “big band” members were taxed by the government. Mr. Brody helped found a law firm that has become one of the largest law firms in the state. He stressed diversity in the work place and hired the best lawyers irrespective of their race, religion or sex. The law firm that was known as the Brody Law Firm is now Davis, Brown, Koehn, Shors and Roberts, P.C. The Davis Firm has offices in the Davis Brown Tower.

Mr. Brody’s example in volunteering for many civic activities that were important to the people of Des Moines has been an example to all of those who followed in that firm. His actions have inspired many to volunteer their time to help others when they can.