Who are you?
My name is Tom Foley, and I am a trial attorney specializing in employment disputes. My wife’s name is Dana. Dana and I first met in law school. She was dating a close friend of mine. She was the first woman I met who refused to take any excrement from me. We have been married almost thirty years. We have three boys, Ryan (27), Tyler (25), and Ethan (23).
I grew up in Iowa City and received both my undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Iowa. I practiced law in Des Moines for thirty-three years, twenty-four of those with the largest law firm in the state. I returned to Eastern Iowa in February 2017. Dana still lives in Des Moines, and I shuttle between Des Moines and Iowa City. The drive isn’t too bad, and I get to enjoy the many things both cities offer.
Who do you represent?
I represented employers in employment-related matters for the first twenty-four years of my career. I enjoyed the legal issues, but always felt like I was on the wrong side. I tended to relate more to my adversaries than my clients. In 2010, I started representing individuals and I have never looked back. I thoroughly enjoy what I do and feel privileged to represent the people I help.
My clients range from highly-compensated executives to highly-educated university professors to tireless hourly employees. What they all have in common is that they were fired or otherwise mistreated at the workplace and are searching for fairness. I fight to obtain fairness for them.
What motivates you to do what you do?
In the movie Philadelphia, the character Tom Hanks played said that one of the coolest things about being a lawyer is that sometimes you get to play a part in justice being done. In my practice, that means negotiating a fair settlement for a deserving client, convincing an employer to reinstate a wrongfully discharged employee, or persuading a jury to return a verdict that fairly compensates my client for all she has lost. The prospect of playing a part in obtaining justice is what gets me to the office each day.
What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
That I was one of the starting forwards on the Regina High School basketball team that had the good fortune to win the Class A state championship in 1978. What I learned most from the experience was the value of working hard with others to obtain a shared goal. I apply much of what I initially learned playing basketball when representing clients. Through tireless effort and teamwork, I strive to get the best possible result for my clients.
What do you do when you are not being an attorney?
I am an exercise fiend, and I spent much of my free time working out, riding my bike, or engaging in some other form of physical activity. I am a lifetime learner and enjoy reading anything that is written well. During the summer months, I love sitting by a swimming pool with my wife Dana, drinking a cold beer, and doing absolutely nothing productive.
If you weren’t an attorney, what would you be doing?
I’m not sure. I’ve wanted to be a trial attorney since watching To Kill a Mockingbird when I was eight years old. It’s difficult seeing myself doing anything else. My father was a professor at the University of Iowa for over forty years. He enjoyed teaching immensely. I have taught law school classes at various times, and I could see myself doing something like that although I would miss being in the courtroom. I enjoy writing, and I used to flirt with the desire of becoming a journalist, a historian, or a writer. I concluded I would probably starve doing any of those and went to law school instead. I think I made the correct choice.