Katherine A. Beenken - Brochure


J.D. (with Honors), University of Iowa, 2012

B.A. Journalism and Mass Communication (Magna Cum Laude), Drake University, 2009


Practice Groups

  • Board Governance
  • Collective Bargaining/Labor Law
  • Employee Benefits
  • Employment & Labor Law
  • Litigation
  • Student Issues


Katherine provides representation and counsel to local governmental bodies, including public school districts, cities, counties, and higher education institutions. She assists clients in a variety of capacities, including counseling on personnel issues, labor relations, employee benefits, contract and policy review, and representation in special education matters or other student issues.

She also counsels clients on various human resources and other employment law matters, including employee discipline and terminations, employment contracts, drafting and revising employment policies, and investigations related to employment. Katherine has experience working with the Iowa Public Employee Retirement System (IPERS), the Iowa Department of Administrative Services (DAS), the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC), the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO), the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on behalf of public agencies.

Katherine currently chairs the firm's Employee Benefits Practice Group. She joined the firm as an associate in 2012 after completing the summer clerkship program with the firm.

Bar Admissions

Iowa, 2012

Court Admissions

All Iowa Courts

U.S. District Courts – Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa

U.S. Court of Appeals – Eighth Circuit

Representative Projects

  • “Special Report” to IASB regarding Employee Benefits
  • Support public employers in response to employee and former employee administrative complaints to state and federal agencies
  • Establishment of nonprofit entities to assist communities and school districts
  • Representation in various administrative due process hearings brought against public school districts and AEAs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • Representation of public entities in special education administrative matter and federal court appeal, receiving a favorable ruling for the public school and area education agency. Bohn v. Cedar Rapids Community School District, et al., 2016 WL 6828207 (N.D. Iowa 2016)
  • Representation of public school district in a student disciplinary matter and subsequent litigation following the student’s admission to bringing a firearm onto campus
  • Representation of City and County governments in personnel and employment matters
  • Conduct full and half day professional development sessions for school employees
  • Conduct full and half day Human Resource and Management training for city and county employees


American Bar Association

Iowa State Bar Association

Polk County Bar Association

Polk County Women Attorneys

National School Boards Association, Council of School Attorneys

National Public Employer Labor Relations Association


Best Lawyers in America© - Ones to Watch (2021-2023)

  • Education Law
  • Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
  • Labor and Employment Law - Management

Willard L. Boyd Public Service Distinction, University of Iowa Law School, 2012


Katherine's most recent speaking engagements include:

Central Rivers Area Education Agency, Special Education Legal Seminar, "Legislative Updates and Top Legal Issues in Special Education," with Carrie Weber, June 2024

Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Spring Conference, "Accommodating Employees with Physical and Mental Health Differences," March 2024

Prairie Lakes AEA, Special Education Seminar, with Carrie Weber, November 2023

Iowa State Association of Counties, Auditors Affiliate Meeting, "1099's, W2's, Fringe Benefits," August 2023

Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Fall Conference, "Recruit and Retain:  Employee Incentives and Early Retirement," with Emily Ellingson, September 2023

Iowa State University, Iowa School Business Management Academy, "Legal - Parent & Student Rights," May 2023

Iowa State University, Iowa School Business Management Academy, "Legal - Parent & Student Rights," and "Top 5 School Legal Issues" with Danielle Haindfield, Kristy Latta, and Miriam Van Heukelem, April 2022

Iowa Municipal Attorneys Association, "Hot Topics in Employment Law," with Elizabeth Heffernan, November 2021

Iowa State Association of Counties, Annual Conference, “Hot Topics in Human Resources” Part I and Part II, with Elizabeth Heffernan, August 2021

Iowa State Association of Counties, Spring Conference, “Human Resource Panel”, March 2021

Iowa State Association of Counties, New County Officer’s School, “Human Resources for County Officials,” January 2021

LRP Publications, National Webinar, “Navigating the Changing Landscape of Progress Monitoring During and After the Pandemic,” January 2021

Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., Employment Law Webinar Series, "Workplace Injuries: What To Do When Employees Get Hurt," with Nicholas Pellegrin, January 2021

Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., Webinar, "Final Chapter 103 Rules Adopted," with Elizabeth Heffernan, Miriam Van Heukelem, and Carrie Weber, December 2020

ISAC Spring Conference, Iowa County Engineers Association Affiliate Meeting, "Employee Use of Social Media," March 2020 

Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., Webinar, "Chapter 103, Restraint and Seclusion: How Proposed Rule Changes Will Affect District Practices," with Miriam Van Heukelem and Carrie Weber, November 2019

Ahlers & Cooney, Employment Law Client Seminar, "End of Employment Issues," November 2019

Iowa State Association of Counties, “HR 202: How to Effectively Manage Public Employees,” August 2019

Iowa Municipal Professionals, 2019 Iowa Municipal Professionals Academy, “Social Media, the Workplace, and Employee Speech - Do’s and Don’ts for Public Employers,” July 2019

Polk County Bar Association, PCBA Spring 2019 General Practice CLE, “Special Education Law for Lawyers Who Do Not Practice Special Education,” April 2019

National Business Institute, Special Education Law:The Ultimate Guide Seminar, “Developing Legally Compliant IEPs That Benefit,” March 2019

Iowa State Association of Counties, New Officers Training School, "HR Essentials for County Officials," January 2019

National Business Institute (NBI), Seminar, "Manifestation Determination Review Essentials and Discipline & Expulsion - Best Practices," December 2018

Ahlers & Cooney, Employment Law Client Seminar, "Hot Topics in HR," October 2018

Iowa Association of School Business Officials, "Payroll, the FLSA & Overtime Regulations," October 2018

School Administrators of Iowa, School Law Conference, "Mental Health Consideration for Staff and Students" and "Social Media Issues Involving Staff and Students" with Drew Bracken, February 2018

Professional, Community and Civic Leadership

Polk County Women Attorneys – Board of Directors

  • President-Elect, 2022
  • Treasurer, 2020

Polk County Bar Association – Public Relations Co-Chair (2016 - 2018)

The Wall that Heals (traveling Vietnam memorial)


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