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Russell Lovell

Russell Lovell is a retired Drake University Law Professor Emeritus.   From 1976 – 2014 Russ taught constitutional law, civil rights, and litigation, twice served as Associate Dean (with Dean David Walker) from 1986-1990 and 2004-2010, and served as Director of Drake’s Clinical Programs from 1995-1999.  Russ was the founder/director of the Law School’s Public Service Scholarship Program and mentored more than eighty Public Service Scholars.   Drake University honored him with its Outstanding Professor for Experiential Learning Award in 2014, in recognition of the innovative First Year Trial Practicum (a jury trial observation experience he created for the entire first-year law class), and with its Madelyn Levitt Distinguished Community Service Award in 1998 for his NAACP civil rights advocacy.   Russ has lectured and taught as visiting legal scholar at Universities in China in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2015.


Lovell began his career in Kansas City where he clerked for Federal Appeals Court Judge Floyd Gibson.  In Indianapolis he served as Director of Litigation for the Legal Services Organization (LSO) and the Indiana Center on Law & Poverty.  Russ has been involved in racial justice advocacy since the day he walked into his LSO law office in the historic Madam C.J. Walker Building in July 1971, specializing in Federal Court civil rights litigation.  Russ has been an NAACP pro bono civil rights lawyer for 47 years, including service as lead counsel in NAACP class action employment discrimination cases that desegregated the Indiana State Police Department and the Des Moines Fire Department and as NAACP 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.


Since 1992, Russ has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Des Moines NAACP and chaired its Legal Redress Committee (LRC).  In 2012 Russ persuaded his Drake colleague David Walker to co-chair the Des Moines NAACP and the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP LRCs.   David Walker’s NAACP biography describes our collaboration on a wide range of racial justice issues in recent years, from the Unbiased Policing/Anti-Racial Profiling Ordinance enacted by the Des Moines City Council in June 2020 to writing seven NAACP Amicus briefs in the Iowa Supreme Court.  


The most recent of many honors for civil rights advocacy came in October 2020 when, along with NAACP colleagues Andrews and Walker, Russ received the National Bar Association’s Journey Award for “demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

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