standing with you

harley c. erbe

Harley Erbe

ready to serve throughout iowa

My dad was in the United States Army. I was born in Berlin and lived in Germany twice, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin. I stayed in Iowa after graduating Drake University Law School in 1999. Before law school, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1996.

I’ve spent my law career since 1999 exclusively handling civil litigation matters, first as a member of two small Iowa law firms, then on my own as a solo attorney. I founded Erbe Law Firm in July 2005. From our Des Moines offices, I represent individuals and small businesses in car accident, personal injury law, employment law, contract law, insurance law, and construction defect cases throughout Iowa in state and federal court.

teamwork is the key

We don’t view the people we work with as simply clients or case files. We value them as individuals, teammates, partners, friends. When you work with us you’ll become part of a team dedicated to advancing your cause, and not just part of a sterile attorney-client relationship. When people invite us to stand with them, we in turn invite them to collaborate with us in all aspects of their fight because we never forget who we’re fighting for and why we’re fighting. We take the trust that you place in us seriously and personally.

Communication is a primary component of our partnerships and teamwork with our clients. We’ll keep you informed about your case, let you know what’s coming next, and ask for your input regarding future moves. We promptly respond to emails and telephone calls. If you’re thinking about your case, then so are your teammates at our firm. As part of our communication with you, we’ll fully advise you of the strengths and weaknesses of your case so that you can make the most informed decisions possible.

A passion for trials and advocacy

I especially enjoy the challenge of pushing the law past its current boundaries and expanding legal rights. I’ve 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, I’ll 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 my third try, I finally convinced a court that the law needed to be changed to protect more people than it originally had.

I’ve 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. I’ve also argued before the United States Court of Appeals, the Iowa Supreme Court, and the Iowa Court of Appeals.

I’m a dedicated trial lawyer. I’m 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. I 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. I’ve 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. I’m 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.

learning from the real world

I live in West Des Moines with my wife Jannay. In my free time I enjoy riding my Harley-Davidson motorcycle, enjoying Iowa's outdoors, reading, traveling, and cheering for the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Badgers, and Milwaukee Brewers. I try to apply my experiences and lessons from the real world to my cases as often as I can.



  • 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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