Iowan realizes his childhood dream of working in criminal justice.
Adam Vander Stoep

Hometown: Doon, Iowa

Area of study: Law

Graduation: May 2018

Plans after graduation: Work in the Bronx, New York City, as an assistant district attorney


  • Spoke in front of the Iowa Supreme Court
  • Participated in the UI’s MOOT Court Team
  • Created relations with clients through the Federal Defense Clinic

Adam Vander Stoep first set foot in a courtroom at a very young age. 

“My father was in law enforcement my entire life, and he would sometimes give me the opportunity to go to court and watch him testify,” says Vander Stoep. “To me, that was just fascinating, and I always wanted to be involved in the criminal justice or law enforcement field.”

But Vander Stoep knew he didn’t want to be the person testifying; he wanted to be the person asking the questions. 

Fast forward 15 years, and Vander Stoep—who has lived in Iowa his entire life—is preparing to work as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx, New York City.

And he credits the unique, hands-on experience he’s received at the University of Iowa College of Law for preparing him for the next step. 

In addition to his coursework, Vander Stoep had the opportunity to argue in front of the Iowa Supreme Court through his participation in the UI’s Moot Court Team. He also built relationships with actual clients under the supervision of a professor through the Federal Defense Clinic.

“The opportunity to go in front of a judge and argue on behalf of a client, meet with a client, and establish a relationship with a client who you are working with on a criminal case is an invaluable experience,” he says. “It gives you a taste of what you’re going to be doing, and for most people, it actually excites them more for what comes after law school.” 

Vander Stoep says he also has benefited from the collegial atmosphere at the UI College of Law, where peers work with and challenge one another without being overly competitive. 

“I’ve been able to bounce ideas off of my classmates and go to professors’ offices to discuss different concepts with them. It’s really helped me establish a more well-rounded sense of the law and know what questions to be asking when I’m practicing the law,” he says. “By talking to your peers, you actually create more ideas and come up with better ways to argue different aspects of the law.” 

Even though Vander Stoep never anticipated moving to New York City, he says he’s excited about the challenge and is confident that the College of Law taught him the skills he needs to be ready to practice on his first day. 

“It all goes back to the practical experience I have received since being in the clinic, as well as the legal understanding I have received while taking my classes,” he says. “I think Iowa Law does a great job of preparing you to be able to go to any state and practice any law…It gives you the opportunity and skills to go wherever you want in the country.”

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