Harley Erbe

The son of a member of the United States Army, Harley was born in Berlin and has since lived in Germany twice, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin. He stayed in Iowa after graduating Drake University Law School in 1999. Before law school, Harley graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1996.

Harley has spent his law career exclusively handling civil litigation matters, first as a member of two small Iowa law firms, then on his own as a solo attorney. He founded Erbe Law Firm in July 2005. Harley usually represents individuals and small businesses in car accident, personal injury law, employment law, contract law, insurance law, and construction defect cases.

Harley especially enjoys the challenge of pushing the law past its current boundaries and expanding legal rights. He has twice argued, in Wright v. Brooke Group Ltd. and Speight v. Walters Development Co., cases before the Iowa Supreme Court that resulted in greater protections for Iowa consumers. If there is a chance of changing the law so that a client has a claim when none had previously existed, Harley will drive the case forward as far as it needs to go. For example, the claims in the Speight case were rejected by two courts before it reached the Iowa Supreme Court, where, on his third try, Harley finally convinced a court that the law needed to be changed to protect more people than it originally had.

Harley has argued and tried cases in Iowa's state and federal courts resulting in millions of dollars in judgments and settlements for our clients. Some of those cases are summarized on our Representative Cases page. Harley has also argued before the United States Court of Appeals, the Iowa Supreme Court, and the Iowa Court of Appeals.

Harley is a dedicated trial lawyer. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), a national organization of experienced trial lawyers and judges dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the civil jury trial. Membership to ABOTA is by invitation only upon nomination by a member of ABOTA's Iowa Chapter. Attorneys must have significant jury trial experience to be considered for ABOTA. Harley was honored to have been a member of the National Trial Lawyer Association's Top 40 Under 40, an invite-only organization that includes only the top young trial attorneys in Iowa as nominated, reviewed, and accepted by their peers. Harley has also been selected as a member of the American Academy of Trial Attorneys, an invitation-only organization that recognizes the top 100 trial lawyers in Iowa, as well as Great Plains Super Lawyers, also an invitation-only organization. Harley is also a member of several other legal and professional organizations, including the American Association For Justice, the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association, the Iowa State Bar Association, the Polk County Bar Association, and the American Inns of Court.

Harley lives in West Des Moines with his wife Jannay. In his free time he enjoys riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, enjoying Iowa's outdoors, reading, traveling, and cheering for the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Badgers, and Milwaukee Brewers.



  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (B.A. 1996)

  • Drake University Law School (J.D., with high honors, 1999); Order of the Coif; Drake University Law Review; M. Gene Blackburn Award 

Bar Admissions

  • Iowa

  • United States District Court, Southern District of Iowa

  • United States District Court, Northern District of Iowa

  • United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

  • United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Professional Associations

  • American Board of Trial Advocates (invitation only)

  • Iowa State Bar Association

  • National Trial Lawyers Association (invitation only)

  • American Inns of Court (invitation only)

  • American Academy of Trial Attorneys (invitation only)

  • Great Plains Super Lawyers

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